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Mission To Deflect Asteroid Set for 2022

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(LPAC)—A joint mission between Europe and the U.S. is being developed to slam a spacecraft into an asteroid in 2022, in an attempt to prove that incoming objects from space can be knocked off course and stopped from colliding with Earth, and others report.

The Joint European/U.S. Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment mission (AIDA) would intercept the asteroid Didymos in 2022, when it is about 6.5 million miles (11 million kilometers) from Earth. European Space Agency officials announced the plans in a press release Feb. 22.

The AIDA researchers are working with scientists from Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, who are involved in the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, a $350 million project that has been in development for a decade.

The target of the joint mission, Didymos, is actually a binary system, in which an 800-meter-wide asteroid and a 150-meter space rock orbit each other. Didymos does not pose a threat to Earth in the foreseeable future.

The AIDA mission will aim to send a spacecraft smashing into the smaller asteroid at about 14,000 mph (22,539 kph) while another spacecraft records the collision. High-powered, Earth-based telescopes would also observe the encounter. [FHB]