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N° 12–2019: Call For Media: AIDA workshop for planetary defence

5 September 2019

Experts working on an upcoming joint space mission designed to deflect and analyse asteroids will meet in Rome from 11–13 September. Media are invited to join the Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (AIDA) workshop in the "Aula Ottagona" of the Terme di Diocleziano in Rome to hear the latest progress on NASA’s DART mission, Italy’s LICIA CubeSat and ESA’s Hera mission.

Known collectively as AIDA, these missions are designed around an effort to deflect the orbit of the smaller of the Didymos asteroid pair orbiting between Earth and Mars through an impact by one spacecraft. A second spacecraft will survey the crash site and gather the maximum possible data on the effect of this collision.

NASA’s Double Asteroid Impact Test, or DART spacecraft, is already under construction for launch in summer 2021, with high-speed collision with the target planned for September 2022. Flying along with DART will be an Italian-made miniature CubeSat called LICIA, to serve as a ‘selfie-sat’ to record the moment of impact.

A few years later, ESA’s part of AIDA, a mission called Hera, will perform a close-up survey of the post-impact asteroid, acquiring key measurements such as the asteroid’s mass. Hera will also deploy a pair of CubeSats for close-up asteroid surveys and the very first radar probe of an asteroid.

The workshop will discuss current preparations for these missions, along with future plans based on presentations of the AIDA working groups, to identify areas requiring additional investigation and providing opportunities for further collaboration among the international research groups. 


The full programme is available at AIDA International Workshop.

Following the workshop, an event open to the public will take place on 13 September starting at 18:30 in the’ Aula Ottagona’, during which experts from around the world will discuss humanity’s current capabilities to protect our planet from asteroid impacts. To complete the picture, a special guest will explain how video games and ‘pop culture’ have always had a great interest in this topic. Doors will open at 18:00. Accreditation is required. For more information:

Background information

The AIDA cooperation between NASA and ESA, together with the LICIA CubeSat overseen by the Italian Space Agency ASI, constitute the first-ever validation of planetary defence techniques. These joint efforts form a technology demonstration with the objective to show that humankind is capable of deflecting a hazardous near-Earth asteroid: NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission will be launched in 2021 and impact the secondary component of the binary near-Earth asteroid (65803) Didymos in 2022. The LICIA CubeSat will be released shortly before impact to send back pictures of the collision. The impact will change the orbital period of the asteroid moon sufficiently to be measured by observatories on Earth. ESA’s Hera mission, proposed for full funding at the SPACE 19+ Ministerial Council in November this year, is planned to launch in October 2024 and rendez-vous with Didymos in early January 2027. It will greatly enhance our understanding of the outcome of the DART impact by measuring the mass of the asteroid moon, investigating the DART crater, and determining the surface and subsurface characteristics of the asteroid pair. As the first rendez-vous with a binary asteroid, Hera also promises great scientific return, and it will prepare the ground for the possible use of asteroid resources in future. Hera mission is part of the ESA’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme.


The workshop and the public event will be held at:

‘Aula Ottagona’ of the Terme di Diocleziano in Rome

AddressVia G. Romita 8 (between Via Cernaia and Via Parigi, just north of Piazza della Repubblica)

Bus: 61, 62, 85, 150F, 175, 492, N1, N5, N12
Metro: Barberini (A) or Repubblica (A)
Hop-on/hop-off: Piazza Barberini or Terminal B

Media accreditation

Media representatives with press or social media credentials please register specifying if they would like to use the shuttle service at: 

Social media participants should check here that they meet the eligibility criteria before applying. Note that there is no dedicated social media event; those attending with social media accreditation will have the same access to the event as traditional/online news media.

Latest date for registration is 11 September.

Follow online

Social media: 
For updates throughout the event, follow #HeraMission and #PlanetaryDefense on Twitter.

Images and animations

ESA SSA programme images and infographics:

ESA SSA programme videos:

ESA Hera mission images:

ESA Hera mission videos:

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Slovenia is an Associate Member.

ESA has established formal cooperation with seven Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes as well as with Eumetsat for the development of meteorological missions.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space. ESA also has a strong applications programme developing services in Earth observation, navigation and telecommunications.


For further information, please contact:

ESA Newsroom and Media Relations

Tel. +3906941801