ESA awards €129.4 million contract to planetary defence mission Hera

This month asteroids launched farther closer to Earth than the Moon- with more close encounters expected

The signing took place at ESA's European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, which will serve as mission control for the 2024-launched Hera.

Although there is a very small chance of an asteroid collision, the chances are still there, which is why space agencies are now taking steps in developing measures that could protect the planet from major collisions.

If an asteroid were to hit Earth, it would cause a global disaster.

Other probes followed asteroids and are returning to Earth with samples. "Landing on Titan, mapping the Universe with Herschel and Planck, hunting a comet with Rosetta and now preventing Earth against Asteroid, all so awesome and unimaginable challenges our company is so proud to face".

DART is aiming to smash into Dimorphos in September 2022 in an attempt to deflect it off course as a test run of our planetary defenses.

Asteroids are bodies originated in the young stars nebulae that never grew to planets, formed of rock and metal. RF3 would then be classified as a Near-Earth Object or NEO but does not pose a threat to Earth even with its distance.

Millions of years ago, a major asteroid collision was responsible for setting off the extinction of the dinosaurs. This asteroid flew by in one lunar distance, and is also the 61st asteroid to do so this year. The effect of such an impact would be devastating if it reached a populated area, capable to destroy an entire city or to create a tsunami if it impacted a sea. These space objects are inanimate and would not move on its own, much like Asteroid 2014 QJ33, who moves because of the Solar System's planets.

It crossed 94,000 kilometers (58,500 miles) on 14 September.

Hera will arrive at Didymos in late 2026 and will navigate around the system for at least 6 months, collecting data on the composition of the affected body and identifying changes in the trajectory of the larger asteroid, working together with telescopes on Earth.

HERA will be following and will conduct a post-impact assessment to turn it into a potential asteroid deflection technique. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond.

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