The ESA ok for the mission has arrived Hera: his goal is to save the Earth and humanity from the threat of a asteroid on a collision course with the planet. A bit like in Armageddon, but with more science and less science fiction (e Aerosmith). It will come to life thanks to an investment of 290 million euros and will be conducted in partnership with US-based NASA.
Hera: ESA and NASA to save the Earth from asteroids
During the first phase the two space agencies will send some vehicles on Didymos, a binary asteroid, thus created by two celestial bodies, one with a diameter equal to about 780 meters and the other smaller, of 160 meters. First the American agency will hit the smaller size using the DART system, impacting it at a speed of about 21.400 Km / h, then Hera will arrive on site to evaluate the outcome of the operation so as to collect useful data for future developments.
There is a lot of it Italy in the initiative: the event will be observed at a safe distance from LICIACube (Light Italian Cubesat for Imaging of Asteroids), a small satellite designed in the Turin laboratories of Argotec specifically for this purpose.
Hera will bring with it two other small units capable of acting as drones, moving very close to Didymos before landing, capturing data on the conformation of the asteroid and its composition. The ultimate goal of the mission, according to ESA, is to set up an effective system for the deflection asteroids or to intervene in time in case of danger to divert the trajectory.
A curiosity: in the videos announcing the green light at the beginning of the mission there is also Brian May, which besides being a founding member and soul of Queen is astrophysicist.