A few weeks back, it has been reported that NASA, the United States space agency is apparently developing a planetary defense weapon to protect the earth from a dreaded asteroid hit. Now, the European Space Agency (ESA) has also joined this effort, and they are apparently developing a self-driving craft for its Hera planetary defense mission to the Didymos asteroid, which could happen as soon as 2023.
Experts at the European Space Agency revealed that the Hera spacecraft is capable of steering itself in real time on space, and will navigate around potentially hazardous space bodies that might be posing threat to planet earth. Very similar to a self-driving car, this self-driving spacecraft is also equipped with an array of technologies including ESA guidance and navigation. It should be also noted that Hera spacecraft onboard computer also has a dedicated image processing unit that is very similar to a graphics card in a laptop.
"If you think self-driving cars are the future on Earth, then Hera is the pioneer of autonomy in deep space. While the mission is designed to be fully operated manually from the ground, the new technology will be tested once the core mission objectives are achieved and higher risks can be taken," said Paolo Martino, a lead system's engineer at the Hera mission, ESA in a recently issued statement.
ESA plans to launch the Hera mission in October 2023. It should be noted that the Hera mission is a part of the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission, a joined venture of NASA and ESA.
Several space experts believe that a planetary defense weapon is very pivotal to save the planet from doomsday which may happen in the future. A few weeks back, Dr Iain McDonald, a top researcher at the Cardiff University's school of earth and ocean sciences had revealed that a doomsday asteroid will hit the earth one day or another in the future. As per Iain McDonald, dreaded events like gigantic asteroid hits have happened in the past, and the possibility of such events in the future could not be ruled out.