It’s always good to have a practice run before a big event…
Scientists from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) will attempt to alter the path of an asteroid by smashing into it with a probe.
If successful, the same technique could be used to deflect future asteroids than might head towards Earth.
The mission, known as Asteroid Deflection & Assessment (AIDA), will include two spacecraft.
NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will crash into the asteroid, and the ESA’s Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM) will monitor the impact’s effect.
The chosen target is ‘Didymoon’, an egg-shaped 160-metre-wide rock that orbits the larger ‘Didymos’ asteroid.
Image credit: ESA/Science Office
Patrick Michel, the lead of the AIM Investigation Team, says, "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.
“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."
The mission is due to launch in October 2020.
Watch their first attempt of Comet Catcher Rosetta here.