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European space agency signs deal for asteroid defence mission

September 17, 2020 00:00:00

DARMSTADT, (Germany), Sept 16 (Reuters): The European space agency (ESA) signed a deal worth 129 million euros ($154 million) on Tuesday to make a spacecraft for a joint project with NASA looking at how to deflect an asteroid heading for Earth.

NASA is due to launch a spacecraft in June 2021 set on a collision course with the Dimorphos asteroid to test whether it would be possible to nudge objects that might be threatening Earth onto a safer path.

ESA will then launch its spacecraft - named Hera after the Greek goddess of marriage - in October 2024 to map the resulting impact crater and measure the asteroid's mass, reaching the area in late 2026 for a six-month survey.

The mission is reminiscent of the 1998 film Armageddon, in which actor Bruce Willis plays a member of a team sent to destroy an asteroid to save Earth.

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