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Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (AIDA)

  • 05 Sep 2019
  • 3 min read

Asteroid researchers with a view to establishing a planetary defence mechanism against huge asteroid will gather in Italy to discuss the progress of Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (AIDA).

  • An asteroid hit is widely acknowledged as one of the most likely, among all the causes that may eventually cause the extinction of life on Earth,
  • In general, there are two different ways of planetary defence against an asteroid.
    • Blowing up the asteroid before it reaches Earth,
    • Deflecting it off its Earth-bound course by hitting it with a spacecraft.
  • The Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (AIDA) project seeks to explore the defence mechanism through deflection.
    • It is a joint mission of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA).
    • It is an ambitious double-spacecraft mission to deflect an asteroid in space.
    • Target of AIDA
      • The target is the smaller of two bodies in the “double Didymos asteroids”. These are in orbit between Earth and Mars.
      • Didymos is a near-Earth asteroid system.
      • Its main body measures about 780 m across; the smaller body is a “moonlet” about 160 m in diameter.

  • The project aims to deflect the orbit of the smaller body through an impact by one spacecraft.
    • NASA is building the Double Asteroid Impact Test (DART) spacecraft for this.
  • Then a second spacecraft will survey the crash site and gather the maximum possible data on the effect of this collision.
    • ESA’s contribution is a mission called Hera, which will perform a close-up survey of the post-impact asteroid.
    • Hera will also deploy a pair of CubeSats for close-up asteroid surveys. This would allow researchers to model the efficiency of the collision.
  • Flying along with DART will be an Italian-made miniature CubeSat, called LICIACube, to record the moment of impact.
  • The Double Asteroid Impact Test (DART) spacecraft will be launch in 2021. It is planned to collide with the target in September 2022.

CubeSats

  • CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites.
  • CubeSats are built to standard dimensions (Units or “U”) of 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm.
  • They can be 1U, 2U, 3U, or 6U in size, and typically weigh less than 1.33 kg (3 lbs) per U.

Source: IE

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