Asteroid researchers/scientists and spacecraft engineers from the United States, Europe and around the world will assemble in Rome subsequent weeks to discuss the latest progress of their collective goal: an enthusiastic and arduous double-spacecraft mission to deflect an asteroid in space, to show the technique as a viable method of planetary defense.
This combined mission is known as the AIDA – Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment. Its goal is to deflect the orbit of the smaller body of the double Didymos asteroids between Earth and Mars via an impact by one spacecraft. Then a second spacecraft will survey and examine the crash site and gather the highest possible data on the effect of this collision.
Contributors will share the current progress of the two spacecraft making up AIDA—together with the smaller nano-spacecraft, they may carry aboard them—as nicely the latest results of world astronomical campaigns undertaken to learn extra about the distant Didymos asteroids.
NASA’s contribution to AIDA, DART spacecraft – the Double Asteroid Impact Test, is already under development for launch in summer 2021, to crash with its target destination at 6.6 km/s in September 2022. Flying along with DART shall be an Italian-made miniature CubeSat referred to as LICIACube (Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids) to document the second of impact.
Then will come ESA’s part of AIDA, a mission referred to as Hera which will carry out an in depth-up survey of the post-impact asteroid, buying measurements such as the asteroid’s mass and detailed crater form. Hera may also deploy a pair of CubeSats for close-up asteroid surveys and the very first radar probe of an asteroid.
The outcomes returned by Hera would enable researchers to model the effectivity of the collision better, to show this grand-scale experiment into a way which could be repeated as needed in the event of an actual threat.