Hera mission gets “eyes”

Engineers of the German company Jena-Optronik have completed the manufacture and testing of two AFC cameras designed for the Hera mission. In the near future, they will be installed on the spacecraft.

AFC Camera

AFC is a monochromatic camera which weighs 1.3 kg. It is designed to take pictures of the asteroid surface. The camera is capable of taking pictures with a resolution of 1 meter from a distance of 10 km. AFC photos will be supplemented with color images from other mission instruments, including HyperScout, which will be able to receive images on 25 different spectral lines, including infrared.

AFC camera. Source: Jena-Optronik

Currently, European engineers are completing work on other scientific components of Hera, as well as two satellites-Milani and Juventas cubesats. Together with the AFC, they will be delivered to the OHB Assembly Building for installation on the spacecraft. After the integration is completed, engineers will begin tests designed to certify the readiness of Hera for space flight. They are scheduled to begin in the autumn of 2023.

Main objectives of the Hera mission

The main objective of the Hera mission will be the Dimorphos asteroid, which is a moon of the larger asteroid Didymos. On September 22, 2022, a NASA-built DART probe crashed into the Dimorphos. The impact knocked out at least a thousand tons of matter from its surface, which led to a change in the orbital period of the small body by 32 minutes.

Asteroids Didymos and Dimorphos. Source: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL

Hera would have to study how the collision with DART affected a couple of asteroids and the crater left behind. The launch of the probe is scheduled for October 2024, it will have to enter orbit around its target at the end of 2026.

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