An asteroid on a trajectory to collide with Earth is a common scenario in movies and other forms fiction. However, scientists from NASA and ESA ( European Space Agency) have taken a hope for the best, prepare for the worst approach to this sort of situation. As such, they are currently preparing for a test run of an asteroid-deflection mission in 2020.
In the scientific community, there is a consensus that the existence of asteroid heading for Earth is not a matter of if but when. They have taken steps to either minimize the casualties of such an event or prevent it altogether.
For this reason, scientists from space agencies have planned an Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission in order to test various technologies and solutions. However, before they start preparing for such a mission, European officials must make the final decision about the fate of the mission. Scientists have released an open letter explaining the reasoning behind the AIDA mission, in hopes of gathering support before the vote.
Although scientists think that huge asteroid capable of threatening Earth are very rare, smaller ones can still pose high levels of danger for communities a people. In 2013, the Chelyabinsk meteor measuring 65 feet across injured 1,200 people and damaged several thousand building in Russia.
Scientists are trying to mobilize to prevent a worse scenario from happening. In the open letter signed by over 100 scientists, it is stated that more than 1,700 near-Earth asteroids are considered potentially hazardous.
AIDA actually consists of two missions. The Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM) run by the ESA and NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). Both missions involve traveling to the binary asteroid system known as Didymos and Didymoon. Scientists calculated that they are set to pass 6.8 million miles near Earth.
AIM will be the first to reach Didymos in June 2022 and observe the impact of Dart with Didymoon. Scientists hope that the impact will slightly change the trajectory of the asteroid. However, landing the spacecraft on Didymoon which has a 560 feet diameter will be very challenging because of its low levels of gravity. Besides testing the technology for another future asteroid-deflection mission, scientists also hope to gain scientific data and learn more about the asteroids.
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