In the course of an international research cooperation with the long-term goal of redirecting asteroids heading towards Earth, the US-American NASA probe "DART" will hit the asteroid Dimorphos at a speed of 6 km/s on 26 September 2022 and change its orbit. Dimorphos, which forms the Didymos double system together with Didymain, which is about 1 km in size, has a diameter of 160 metres and is actually a moon. If an asteroid of this dimension would hit the Earth, it could destroy a city the size of Vienna.
The Austrian contribution to the asteroid mission
In 2024, ESA's European HERA spacecraft will launch and approach the double asteroid system to study the effects of the impact. For this purpose, the Austrian consortium - consisting of JOANNEUM RESEARCH, VRVis (Centre for Virtual Reality and Visualisation) and ÖAW (Austrian Academy of Sciences) - is developing 3D vision processing and visualisation technologies. 3D reconstructions of Dimorphos and Didymain will then be created from the images captured by the HERA cameras. "Of particular interest are the crater and ejecta that will be distributed across the asteroid system after the impact of the "DART" probe", says DI Gerhard Paar of DIGITAL.
In 2027, when HERA will slowly approach Didymain and Dimorphos, Austrian scientists from the ÖAW will participate in the interpretation of the observations obtained and thus gain important insights into the first step towards protecting our Earth from devastating asteroid impacts.