[meteorite-list] Space Agencies Team Up Against Killer Asteroids (AIDA)

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 5 Oct 2015 16:49:12 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <201510052349.t95NnCeF029508_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Space Agencies Team Up Against Killer Asteroids

"To protect Earth from potentially hazardous impacts, we need to understand
asteroids much better."

Nadya Agrawal
The Huffington Post
October 2, 2015

NASA and the European Space Agency are joining forces with other institutions
to launch a program that will test their ability to pull off a major task:
Prevent asteroids from hitting Earth.

Asteroids have been crashing into the Earth for billions of years and
have been disastrous in the past, like when an asteroid ushered the extinction
of the dinosaurs. And though we're not currently in danger of being struck
by a massive space rock, scientists have been toying with lots of ideas
to prevent threatening asteroids from hitting Earth.

One of these ideas has given birth to the Asteroid Impact & Deflection
Assessment program, under which two spacecraft will be launched at a binary
asteroid that orbits near the Earth. One will nudge the rock to see if
its orbit can be changed while the other will study the makeup of the
asteroid itself.

The idea behind the program is to determine whether kinetic energy can
be used to divert an asteroid from colliding with Earth. Or, more simply
put, NASA and the ESA are trying to see if it is possible to bump an asteroid
off course.

"To protect Earth from potentially hazardous impacts, we need to understand
asteroids much better -- what they are made of, their structure, origins
and how they respond to collisions," Dr. Patrick Michel, lead investigator
for the ESA, told scientists at the European Planetary Science Congress.
"AIDA will be the first mission to study an asteroid binary system, as
well as the first to test whether we can deflect an asteroid through an
impact with a spacecraft."

A practice run of the potentially world-saving mission is set for May
2022, when the binary asteroids Didymoon and Didymos orbit close to Earth.
 AIDA crafts will be launched 18 months earlier, in October 2020, to meet
the asteroids. Not only does will AIDA aim to see if an asteroid can be
diverted, but it will also study the makeup of the rock itself.

The two-part mission is split between NASA and the ESA. For the first
part of the program, the ESA's Asteroid Impact Mission will send a small
lander to Didymoon to measure its internal structure and density through
radar waves.

For the second part of the program, NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection
Test spacecraft, steered by ESA's lander, will slam into the center of
Didymoon. Since Didymoon orbits the much larger Didymos, scientists hope
that the impact will shift both asteroids.

Though Didymoon is only 525 feet wide, if AIDA is successful, the same
principle should still apply to much larger, and actually threatening
Received on Mon 05 Oct 2015 07:49:12 PM PDT

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