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Wanted: Smashing Ideas for Asteroid Mission

Asteroid Impact and Deflection mission – AIDA. Credit: ESA

It is dubbed the Asteroid Impact and Deflection mission – AIDA.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is appealing for research ideas to help guide the development of a U.S.-European asteroid deflection mission now under study.

Concepts are being sought for both ground- and space-based investigations, seeking improved understanding of the physics of very high-speed collisions involving both human-made and natural objects in space.

This innovative, low-budget transatlantic partnership involves the joint operations of two small spacecraft sent to intercept a binary asteroid.

The first Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft, designed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland would collide with the smaller of the two asteroids.

Meanwhile, ESA’s Asteroid Impact Monitor (AIM) craft is designed to survey these bodies in detail, before and after the collision.

Working in tandem

“The advantage is that the spacecraft are simple and independent,” says Andy Cheng of Johns Hopkins, leading the AIDA project on the U.S. side. “They can both complete their primary investigation without the other one.”

By working in tandem, the quality and quantity of results will increase greatly, explains Andrés Gálvez, ESA’s AIDA study manager.

“Both missions become better when put together – getting much more out of the overall investment,” Gálvez said in an ESA press statement. “And the vast amounts of data coming from the joint mission should help to validate various theories, such as our impact modeling.”

For more information on this work, go to:

http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Technology/NEO/Asteroid_Impact_Deflection_Assessment_AIDA_study

By Leonard David

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