Asteroid Mathilde from NASA Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous - Shoemaker

The European Space Agency is seeking research ideas to help guide development of a joint US-European asteroid deflection mission now under study.

The Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission would consist of two space probes, which would be launched toward a binary asteroid.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, would collide with the smaller of the two asteroids, while the Asteroid Impact Monitor (AIM) surveys the asteroids in detail, before and after the collision. DART is being designed by the Johns Hopkins Advanced Physics Laboratory in the US, with support from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Johnson Space Center, and JPL. AIM is being designed by ESA.

The DART mission would also include ground-based observations to measure the deflection independently of AIM. This ensures that the DART impact would return return useful data even if AIM failed. Working together, the two probes would return data on momentum transfer and characteristics of the resulting crater.

ESA is seeking concepts for ground- and space-based investigations to improve understanding of high-speed collisions between man-made and natural objects in space.

The AIDA design study is a successor to the Don Quijote study, which ESA completed in July 2005. Like AIDA, Don Quijote involved two probes: an orbiter called Sancho and an impactor called Hidalgo. Sancho would arrive at the asteroid several months prior to Hidalgo to accurately measure the body’s position, shape, mass, and gravity field.

Don Quijote differed from AIDA in planning to target a single asteroid, of about 500 meters diameter, rather than a binary asteroid. Construction of the Don Quixote probes could have begun in 2006, if the project had been approved. Unfortunately, that did not happen. We hope AIDA will have better luck.


Written by Astro1 on January 15th, 2013 , Planetary Defense

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    Chris Landau commented

    What if the proposed deflection works, to alter the trajectory of a non earth impacting asteroid to one that will now target the earth. As the outcome of the new trajectory is unknown (we are playing billiards or snooker in space), the Earth becomes threatened by a new asteroid, if not in this orbit of the asteroid, then in one of the following altered orbits. I think this is playing with people’s lives on Earth, especially if the impact is going to be large enough to alter a 500 meter (half a kilometer) asteroid’s trajectory. This could kill hundreds of millions of people on Earth. As this is not April the first, I assume that people used a tiny fraction of their brains to ask Murphy what he thought about it?

    Chris Landau
    January 15, 2013

    January 15, 2013 at 9:31 pm
    Mookesh Dhanasar commented

    A lot of useful information could be obtained mission. I look forward to its success.

    January 16, 2013 at 10:17 am
    Hagenfeldt commented

    Hope all agreements go fine and that soon both Agencies find an industrial setting to start some assessment studies. Indeed as important as Earth Observation.
    Dynamics of asteroids are unknown up to certain extent, thus the risk of becoming a potentially hazard object is infinitesimal. We better continue learning how to play billiards, as there are dozens of potentially hazards out there, as each year more are found.

    January 20, 2013 at 4:04 am
      Chris Landau commented

      Play with the small ones first, those that would burn up in the atmosphere, in any case, if left to collide with the Earth.
      Chris Landau

      January 20, 2013 at 3:09 pm
        admin commented

        Binary asteroids are not that common. It’s unlikely ESA will find a candidate that’s coming anywhere near Earth for this mission.

        January 20, 2013 at 5:10 pm