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Watch live: World’s First Planetary Defence Test

on 13 September 2022

The Romanian Space Agency (ROSA) invites both the public and the media to witness the World's First Planetary Defense Test, an event hosted by NASA, which will take place on Monday, 26 September at 19:14 EDT (27 September at 02:14 Romanian time). The event can be followed here.

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the world’s first mission to test technology for defending Earth against potential asteroid or comet hazards, will impact its target asteroid — which poses no threat to Earth on Monday, 26 September. The follow-up DART impact evaluation mission from the European Space Agency (ESA), HERA, benefits from important Romanian contributions.

On 26 September, NASA will host a televised briefing beginning at 18:00 from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland (Tuesday, 1:00 AM Romanian local time). APL is the builder and manager of the DART spacecraft for NASA.

This test will show a spacecraft that can autonomously navigate to a target asteroid and intentionally collide with it to change the asteroid’s motion in a way that can be measured using ground-based telescopes. DART will provide important data to help better prepare for an asteroid that might pose an impact hazard to Earth, should one ever be discovered.

DART will collide with the smaller body of the Didymos binary asteroid system in September 2022, striking at a speed of around 6.6 km per second. While the Didymos asteroid system will maintain its motion around the Sun unperturbed, the collision is expected to shift the orbit of the 160-metre-diameter Dimorphos around its 780-metre-diameter parent Didymos in a small but distinct way – just a fraction of one per cent – sufficient to be measured with Earth-based telescopes and radar.

But observing from across space will still leave multiple unknowns, such as the precise mass of Dimorphos, its makeup and its internal structure – as well as the size and shape of the crater left by DART. So, in November 2024 ESA’s mission Hera will head towards the Didymos system, commencing its detailed ‘crime scene investigation’ of the two asteroids in late 2026.

Romania will play an essential role in the HERA mission. Four companies and one research institution from Romania will contribute to the mission.  GMV Innovating Solutions — Romania will develop the navigation related component that is based on image processing from the Guidance, navigation and control  System (GNC) and the Fault Detection, Isolation and Recovery (FDIR). Additionally, GMV is responsible for the development and production of the unit processing image. ATOS Romania through ATOS Convergence Creators will be involved in the ground testing system for the satellite and primary data processing. EFACEC Romania will carry out Planetary Altimeter (PALT) manufacturing and testing, for both the hardware & software.

The National Institute for Research and Development for Optoelectronics - INOE 2000 will contribute to the PALT design, the testing functionality of PALT optics and the development of the optical ground support equipment.

Media representatives need to register in order to take part in the various related events, as well as to book interviews. The deadlines and the sign up forms are available here.

Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben