Asteroid researchers and spacecraft engineers from the US, Europe and around the world will gather in Rome next week to discuss the latest progress in their common goal. It will be an ambitious double spacecraft mission to deflect an asteroid in space, to prove the technique is a viable method of planetary defence. Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May explained how the mission would be conducted using the might of NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and other asteroid specialists.
He said: “HERA is going to show us no one has ever seen before.
“This ESA mission will be humanities first-ever spacecraft to visit a double asteroid, Didymos.
“This asteroid is typical of the thousands that pose an impact risk to our planet.
“Imagine a mountain in the sky with another rock about the size of the great pyramid swinging around it, that is Didymos.
“Just the seemingly tiny moon would be big enough to destroy a city if it were to collide with the Earth.
“But we are going to find out if it is possible to deflect it.”
He added: “HERA is led by a multinational team of scientists and engineers.
“Right now all we have is many years and theories but HERA will revolutionise our understanding of asteroids and how to protect ourselves from them.
“Then ESA comes in, HERA will map the impact crater left by DART and measure the mass of the asteroid.
“Knowing this mass is key to determining what is inside and knowing for certain whether we would be able to deflect it.
“Next come our briefcase-sized CubeSats, if you think of HERA like an aeroplane, cubists will operate more like drones.
“They will be able to take more risks by flying closer to the asteroid and carrying state of the art science instruments before then touching down.”
The billionaire CEO issued his chilling assessment after responding to friend Joe Rogan who shared the asteroid story from the Express.co.uk website.
Musk tweeted: “Great name! Wouldn’t worry about this particular one, but a big rock will hit Earth eventually and we currently have no defence.”