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Hera is a candidate mission that will be humankind's first probe to rendezvous with a binary asteroid system – a little-understood class making up around 15% of all known asteroids. It is an interdisciplinary mission to find out more about this type of asteroid and to investigate asteroid deflection.
Impacts of small space rocks with Earth are relatively common, and although larger impacts are rarer, they can cause catastrophic damage. The effects of an asteroid impact on Earth depends on many factors, such as the location of impact, trajectory and physical properties of the asteroid.
We do have the technology available to mitigate such a threat from an asteroid, but it has never been tested in realistic conditions. Moreover, the design of an efficient mitigation strategy relies on our understanding of the physical properties of threatening objects and their response to a mitigation tool, which is still extremely poor. Hera will significantly improve our understanding.