(ORDO NEWS) — This 10 cm box will go down in history as the smallest radar instrument ever launched into space and the very first radar to probe the interior of an asteroid.
The target of the device is the asteroid Dimorph, which, as a result of a collision with the NASA DART mission in September, changed its orbit and threw a huge plume 10,000 kilometers long into space.
This radar instrument, connected to four antenna beams 1.5 m long, will be delivered to the Juventas CubeSat, which in turn will be sent to Dimorph using the ESA Hera spacecraft. ESA plans to launch Hera in two years.
“Hera” will collect information about the size of the formed crater, the mass of the Dimorph, its composition and internal structure.
The additional data obtained by Hero will help turn the DART experiment into a well-studied, repeatable technique that may one day be truly needed.
Hera is not one spacecraft, but three: it carries ESA’s CubeSat with it to make additional observations of its target.
The Juventas, which houses the radar, will be accompanied by the Milani instrument, which will study the composition of Dimorph’s surface and dust.
This YuRa instrument is a miniature version of the radar installed aboard the ESA Rosetta mission and used to probe comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
It was developed by the group of Dr. Alain Eric from the Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics of Grenoble (IPAG) at the University of Grenoble-Alpes and the group of Dr. Dirk Plettemeier from the Technical University of Dresden, together with Emtronix in Luxembourg, responsible for the production of the instrument.
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