How to Design the Patch for Hera’s Milani CubeSat

ESA is offering a unique opportunity for graphic designers and artists to design the mission patch for the Milani CubeSat, which will be part of ESA’s Hera planetary defense spacecraft. The Milani CubeSat will fly to the Didymos binary asteroid system and participate in a groundbreaking asteroid deflection technique. This competition provides students or early career graphic artists and designers the chance to have their work featured on a mission patch that will make space history.

The Hera mission is a vital part of ESA’s Space Safety program, aiming to test an asteroid deflection technique for the first time ever. NASA’s DART spacecraft already impacted the asteroid Dimorphos, slightly altering its orbit around its parent asteroid, Didymos. Now, Hera, accompanied by two smaller CubeSats, will conduct a detailed survey of Dimorphos after the impact to gather unique scientific data and further understand this asteroid deflection technique.

The Milani CubeSat is named after Andrea Milani, a late professor of mathematics at Pisa University and pioneer of asteroid impact monitoring. Milani developed the original idea of the Don Quijote asteroid deflection demonstration, which involved shifting the trajectory of an asteroid through the impact of one spacecraft while another spacecraft observed the post-impact observations. This idea influenced the international Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission, where NASA provided the DART impactor spacecraft, and ESA produced the monitor spacecraft Hera.

Milani CubeSat, developed and engineered by Tyvak International in Turin, Italy, will be integrated into the Hera spacecraft before launch and will remain there for a two-year journey to the Didymos asteroid system. Upon release, Milani will begin its mission to enhance the overall scientific return of the Hera mission. Equipped with three scientific instruments, Milani will capture high-resolution images of Didymos and Dimorphos using ASPECT, a hyperspectral imager. VISTA, a thermogravimeter, will analyze the dust presence in the Didymos environment, and Milani’s proximity to Didymos will contribute to the Hera radio-science experiment, supporting the characterization of Didymos’ gravity field.

The Milani mission patch must align stylistically with the existing Hera mission patch and convey the core principles of Milani’s scientific mission. The winning design will be featured on the Milani patch template and the winner will have the opportunity to visit ESTEC’s Test Centre in the Netherlands to view the Hera spacecraft up close and meet with the engineering team responsible for its design.

To enter the competition, designers can submit their designs using an online form, and the deadline for submissions is February 29, 2024. Further information about the competition, including terms and conditions, can be found on ESA’s website. All interested participants are encouraged to review ESA’s brand guidelines before submitting their designs.

With this mission patch design contest, ESA is providing an exciting opportunity for graphic designers and artists to contribute to space exploration and be part of a historic mission that aims to enhance our understanding of asteroid deflection techniques.