The ESA space missions Euclid and Hera will be launched with two SpaceX Falcon9 vehicles


Left: Artist's impression of the Euclid spacecraft. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab (spacecraft); NASA, ESA, CXC, C. Ma, H. Ebeling and E. Barrett (University of Hawaii/IfA), et al. and STScI (background) Right: Illustration of the DART mission. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL

The European Space Agency (ESA) Council recently approved that Euclid and Hera space missions, in which the Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC) participate, will be launched with SpaceX Falcon9 vehicles in 2023 and 2024, respectively.

Euclid mission

Euclid is an ESA mission to map the geometry of the Universe and better understand their dark matter and dark energy mysterious components. The Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC) is part of the science team. The mission will investigate the geometry of the Universe and the evolution of cosmic structures by measuring shapes and redshifts of galaxies and clusters of galaxies out to distances when the Universe was of 10 billion years younger. In this way, Euclid will cover the entire period over which dark energy played a significant role in accelerating the expansion of the Universe.

Researchers from ICE-CSIC and the Institute of Space Studies in Catalonia (IEEC) Francisco J. Castander, Martin Crocce, Pablo Fosalba and Enrique Gaztañaga are members of the Euclid Consortium. F.J. Castander is a member of the Euclid Consortium Board where he served two years as Chair. He is also a member of the ESA Euclid Science Team. They are responsible, together with researchers from the Institute of High Energy Physics (IFAE), of delivering the Filter Wheel Assembly (FWA) of the Near Infrared Spectrograph and Photometer (NISP). ICE-CSIC and IEEC researchers lead the Simulation Organization Unit and are deputy coordinators of the Photometric Redshift Organization Unit of the Science Ground Segment. They also lead the Cosmological Simulations Science Working Group and actively participate as well in other Science Working Groups.

Hera mission

Hera is a European Space Agency (ESA) flagship Planetary Defender mission visiting the binary asteroid Didymos as a follow-up of NASA and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory DART mission. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is the first planetary defense dedicated mission. On September 27th, it successfully deflected an asteroid in a kinetic impact. Its target was a 160 meters sized asteroid called Dimorphos, currently being a satellite of a 760 meters in diameter asteroid named Didymos. Both asteroids are currently classified as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids and require further study because they can be considered prototypes of these dangerous bodies that might be source of risk for humans in case of a future collision.

Hera will map Didymos and Dimorphos in high resolution to study the impact crater and its consequences on Dimorphos. In addition, Hera will demonstrate new technologies to study asteroids like e.g. autonomous navigation under low gravity conditions, the use of state-of-the-art spectrometers, multispectral cameras, and radars to characterize the surface composition, mineralogy and inner structure of the Didymos system. In summary, Hera will be the first probe to rendezvous with a PHA binary system with unique scientific instrumentation capable to develop future strategies of planetary defense.

Josep M. Trigo-Rodríguez, principal investigator of the Meteorites, Minor Bodies and Planetary Sciences group at the Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC) and member of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC), participates in both DART and HERA investigation teams providing key expertise in the study of the physico-chemical properties of asteroids and their rock-forming materials, usually arrived to the Earth as meteorites, or returned samples.



Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC) & Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya (IEEC)
Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC) & Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya (IEEC)

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