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Drone test of Hera mission's asteroid radar

on 31 May 2021

During a practical test of the antennas designed to perform the first radar sounding of the interior of an asteroid, the drone in this image hauled a model of the Juventas CubeSat high into the air.

The shoebox-sized Juventas will be transported to the Didymos double-asteroid system by ESA’s Hera mission, in which Romania also takes part. Once it flies freely in space, Juventas will deploy a cross antenna to perform a low-frequency radar scan up to 100 m deep within the smaller of the two asteroids, Dimorphos. Such low frequencies result in long wavelengths of around 6 m, too long for most indoor measurement facilities.

The testing allowed them to assess the amount of radiated power of the antennas compared to radio frequency modelling, and also to assess at which altitude interference from ground reflections would cut out.

2021 05 Hera Drone

TU Dresden is working on the antenna placement, amplification and performance simulation for Juventas’s radar instrument, while Astronika in Poland is constructing the antennas and EmTroniX in Luxembourg is developing the signal generation system. The overall Juventas mission is being led for ESA by GomSpace.

More details here.

Image credits: ESA; TU Dresden