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HyperScout H successfully completes key inspection point for ESA’s Hera mission

HyperScout H, the latest model of cosine’s hyperspectral imager HyperScout ® product line, has recently completed its key inspection point in preparation for the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Hera mission. A team of experts from ESA and cosine closed HyperScout H after the inspection which took place in a cleanroom at our headquarters in Sassenheim, The Netherlands. The next step is the environmental testing, during which it will undergo a series of tests to verify that it can withstand the environmental conditions of the mission in space.

Previously, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft collided with asteroid Dimorphos on 26 September 2022. This was the first-ever mission dedicated to investigating and demonstrating a method of asteroid deflection by changing an asteroid’s motion in space through kinetic impact. The spacecraft’s kinetic impact with its target asteroid successfully altered the asteroid’s orbit. This marked humanity’s first intentional changing of the trajectory of a celestial object and the first full-scale demonstration of asteroid deflection technology.

In follow-up space mission Hera, due to launch in 2024, ESA will send a spacecraft back to Dimorphos to perform a detailed post-impact survey that will turn this grand-scale experiment into a well-understood and repeatable planetary defense technique. While doing so, Hera will also demonstrate multiple novel technologies, including cosine’s HyperScout H, and gather crucial scientific data to help scientists and future mission planners better understand asteroid compositions and structures.

Paolo Martino, ESA Hera Deputy Mission Manager says: “having hyperspectral measurements can significantly contribute to our characterization of asteroids. Specific to the Hera mission, it will help us determine the composition of the asteroid. We are visiting an asteroid that has received an impact from NASA’s DART mission, which has generated a crater with a huge distribution of material. Having hyperspectral measurements will help us understand exactly the dynamic of the impact. This is fundamental for the modeling of the physics of the impact, and therefore to understand the technique of impacting and deflecting asteroids and how we can use it in the future in case of need.”

HyperScout for planetary science

While HyperScout instruments have been most commonly used for Earth observation, the origin of the instrument and of hyperspectral technology at cosine comes from planetary science.

Dr Marco Esposito, cosine Remote Sensing Managing Director says: “We have developed highly integrated suites of instruments specifically for planetary science in the past. We looked, together with ESA, at missions to Jupiter, Mercury and Venus, where hyperspectral measurements helped characterize aspects of these planets. Starting from there we developed HyperScout in collaboration with ESA TEC and ESA EOP, and we now have a good market share for this type of instruments and applications. HyperScout is a perfect instrument to help us with early detection and warning, enabling us to act fast and prevent major catastrophes resulting from events such as wildfires and flooding. In addition, HyperScout can help solve environmental challenges, such as climate change and the resulting adaptation of plants.

Regarding Hera and planetary defense, we are really honored to be an integral part of this mission. First, we can contribute to a better understanding of how we can defend our planet from asteroids on a collision course to Earth. Second, we expect more planetary science missions in the future, since many private parties are looking into such missions, for example to search for life in the universe. The commercial part is also becoming interesting for asteroid mining.”

About cosine
cosine is a leading worldwide company in the development of space instrumentation, such as Silicon Pore Optics and remote sensing solutions with onboard processing. We combine physics and technology to bring out-of-the-box solutions to our clients. We have been developing and delivering innovative measurement systems for space and industrial applications since 1998. Our company operates 1,000 m2 of cleanrooms and high-tech assembly facilities to build and test the systems we produce for customers at our headquarters in Sassenheim, The Netherlands.

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