ESA To Enhance Hera Asteroid Defense Mission Written 7 January 2019

Aviation Week (1/7) reports that the ESA plans to “enhance its Hera planetary defense mission contribution with a pair of six-unit CubeSats developed for close proximity characterization of the near Earth Didymos binary asteroid system,” whose moon is the target of NASA’s “planned Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART).” The multinational Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment Mission (AIDA) is intended to “assess the effectiveness of a spacecraft impactor in deflecting sizable asteroids that pose a collision threat to Earth.” The Asteroid Prospection Explorer and Juventas smallsats were chosen from proposals “submitted across Europe, according to a Jan. 7 ESA announcement.” If authorized by EU authorities, Hera would “enhance the post-impact assessment of DART made by ground observatories with close-up, direct, high-resolution visual, laser, radar and spectral observation of the two bodies.” According to ESA Hera Manager Ian Carnelli, the spacecraft’s “added instruments and venturing much closer to our target bodies...will give different perspectives and complementary investigations on this exotic binary asteroid,” and will also give “valuable experience of close proximity operations relayed by the Hera mother craft in extreme low-gravity conditions.”
More Info (Aviation Week)