Europlanet Science Congress 2020
Virtual meeting
21 September – 9 October 2020
Europlanet Science Congress 2020
Virtual meeting
21 September – 9 October 2020
EPSC Abstracts
Vol.14, EPSC2020-1119, 2020
Europlanet Science Congress 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

ESA’s Hera mission to asteroid Dimorphos

Ian Carnelli1, Paolo Martino2, Diego Escorial2, Ana rugina2, Jesús Gil2, Heli Greus2, Alberto Valverde2, Alessandro Zuccaro2, Bastien Bonnafous2, Carlos Muñoz Moya2, Christophe Honvault2, Franco Perez Lissi2, Georgios Tzeremes2, Michael Khan3, Michael Küppers4, Michail Tourloukis2, Pablo Muñoz3, Paolo Concari2, Richard Moissl4, and Andrea Accomazzo3
Ian Carnelli et al.
  • 1ESA/HQ, 24 rue du General Bertrand, 75007 Paris, France (
  • 2ESA/ESTEC, Keplerlaan 1, 2200 Noordwijk, The Netherlands
  • 3ESA/ESOC, Robert-Bosch-Straße 5, 64293 Darmstadt, Germany
  • 4ESA/ESAC, Camino bajo del Castillo S/N, 28692 Villanueva de la Canada, Spain

The Hera mission contributes to the international effort towards the validation of the kinetic impactor asteroid deflection technique by retrieving all the physical and dynamical properties of Dimorphos in order to validate numerical impact codes. In particular, Hera’s core objectives from the point of view of the deflection demonstration are the following:

  • (i) Measuring the mass of Dimorphos to determine the momentum transfer efficiency from DART to the asteroid;
  • (ii) Investigating the crater in detail to improve our understanding of the cratering process and the mechanisms by which the crater formation drives the momentum transfer efficiency;
  • (iii) Observing subtle dynamic effects (e.g. libration imposed by the impact, orbital and spin excitation of the secondary) that are difficult to detect for remote observers;
  • (iv) Characterising the physical properties of Dimorphos (including size, shape, volume, density, porosity, size distribution of surface material) to allow scaling of the momentum transfer efficiency to different asteroids.

In addition, the Hera mission will allow the demonstration of two key technologies for future deep-space missions:

  • (v) The use of CubeSats for multipoint investigations operated via an inter-satellite network link via Hera;
  • (vi) Autonomous visual-based navigation for very low altitude flybys over the surface of Dimorphos.


The Hera spacecraft will launch in October 2024 onboard an Ariane 6 launcher with an 18-days launch window. The trajectory foresees a Mars swing-by in mid-March 2025 and the rendezvous phase with Didymos starting end-December 2026. Following the operationally safe capture sequence, the asteroid close-proximity operation phase will start from a gate position of about 30 km. Operations will continue for about 6 months and allow for detailed investigations of the Didymos surface down to few kilometres or less from the surface of Dimorphos depending on the performance of the onboard feature-tracking navigation system.


The mission is currently in phase B2 with OHB System as prime contractor together with GMV, QinetiQ, Spacebel and OHB-I as core team members. The preliminary design review is schedules in October 2020. The paper will provide an overview of the mission together with its latest system and payload configuration.

How to cite: Carnelli, I., Martino, P., Escorial, D., rugina, A., Gil, J., Greus, H., Valverde, A., Zuccaro, A., Bonnafous, B., Muñoz Moya, C., Honvault, C., Perez Lissi, F., Tzeremes, G., Khan, M., Küppers, M., Tourloukis, M., Muñoz, P., Concari, P., Moissl, R., and Accomazzo, A.: ESA’s Hera mission to asteroid Dimorphos, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 September–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-1119,, 2020