ESA’s Hera Mission, currently under study for launch in the 2020s, would be humanity’s first probe to visit a double asteroid system.
Targeting an asteroid measuring 180 metres across – around the same size as the Great Pyramid of Giza – Hera would gather data on its surface and inner structure.
The asteroid system, named Didymos, is typical of the thousands that pose an impact risk to our planet, and even the smaller of the two would be big enough to destroy an entire city if it were to collide with Earth. Hera will help ESA to find out if it would be possible to deflect such an asteroid. The mission will revolutionise our understanding of asteroids and how to protect ourselves from them, and therefore could be crucial for saving our planet.
Astrophysicist and Queen guitarist Brian May, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, the UK’s Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield share their own thoughts on this ground-breaking mission.
For more information on Hera, go to http://www.esa.int/Hera