Asteroid-Smashing Mission Picks Space Rock Target - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Asteroid-Smashing Mission Picks Space Rock Target

Posted: Updated:

SPACE.COM - A mission that aims to slam a spacecraft into a near-Earth asteroid now officially has a target — a space rock called Didymos.

The joint European/U.S. Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment mission, or AIDA, will work to intercept Didymos in 2022, when the space rock is about 6.8 million miles (11 million kilometers) from Earth, European Space Agency officials announced Friday (Feb. 22).

Didymos is actually a binary system, in which a 2,625-foot-wide (800 meters) asteroid and a 490-foot (150 m) space rock orbit each other. Didymos poses no threat to Earth in the foreseeable future.

The proposed asteroid-smashing AIDA mission will send one small probe crashing into the smaller asteroid at about 14,000 mph (22,530 kph) while another spacecraft records the dramatic encounter. Meanwhile, Earth-based instruments will record so-called  "ground-truthing" observations.

The goal is to learn more about how humanity could ward off a potentially dangerous space rock. The necessity of developing a viable deflection strategy was underlined in many people's minds by the events of last Friday (Feb. 15), when the 130-foot (40 m) asteroid 2012 DA14 gave Earth a historically close shave just hours after a 55-foot (17 m) object exploded above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, injuring 1,200 people and damaging thousands of buildings.

The AIDA impact will unleash about as much energy as that released when a big piece of space junk hits a satellite, researchers said, so the mission could also help improve models of space-debris collisions.

"The project has value in many areas, from applied science and exploration to asteroid resource utilization," Andy Cheng, AIDA lead at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory, said in a statement.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has asked scientists around the world to propose experiments that AIDA could carry in space or that could increase its scientific return from the ground. Researchers have until March 15 to pitch their ideas.

Johns Hopkins' Applied Physics Laboratory is providing AIDA's impactor, which is called DART (short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test). The observing spacecraft is known as AIM (Asteroid Impact Monitor) and will come from ESA.

Follow SPACE.com senior writer Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall or SPACE.com @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook and Google+.

HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Mad Minute stories from Thursday, August 17th

    Mad Minute stories from Thursday, August 17th

    Friday, August 18 2017 2:00 AM EDT2017-08-18 06:00:10 GMT
    Mad Minute for 12/30/16Mad Minute for 12/30/16

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Thursday, August 17th.

    More >>

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Thursday, August 17th.

    More >>
  • Family holds Christmas early for father with terminal cancer

    Family holds Christmas early for father with terminal cancer

    Friday, August 18 2017 1:15 AM EDT2017-08-18 05:15:03 GMT
    Courtesy Becky Odum's Facebook pageCourtesy Becky Odum's Facebook page

     FRISCO, Tex. - A Frisco, Texas family is having Christmas early this year, after receiving some unfortunate news- David Odum, husband and father, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. According to Fox 4 News, the family has issued an online challenge, met by supporters across the globe.    David's wife Becky got out the Christmas decorations and took to Facebook to share David's diagnosis, asking for family and friends to hang up their 

    More >>

     FRISCO, Tex. - A Frisco, Texas family is having Christmas early this year, after receiving some unfortunate news- David Odum, husband and father, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. According to Fox 4 News, the family has issued an online challenge, met by supporters across the globe.    David's wife Becky got out the Christmas decorations and took to Facebook to share David's diagnosis, asking for family and friends to hang up their 

    More >>
  • Escape artist llama makes bid for freedom on golf course

    Escape artist llama makes bid for freedom on golf course

    Thursday, August 17 2017 7:25 PM EDT2017-08-17 23:25:38 GMT
    Jackson, New Hampshire, Police Department via NBC NewsJackson, New Hampshire, Police Department via NBC News

    JACKSON, N.H. (AP) - Maybe these golfers in New Hampshire didn't yell "fore" but they might have considered "llama on the links." Golfers at Eagle Mountain Golf Course in Jackson were joined Monday on the sixth fairway by a llama that escaped from his pen about 2 miles (over 3 kilometers) through some woods. The Conway Daily Sun reports that the pack animal, named Noir, was friendly and got in pictures with the golfers. The fugitive is 

    More >>

    JACKSON, N.H. (AP) - Maybe these golfers in New Hampshire didn't yell "fore" but they might have considered "llama on the links." Golfers at Eagle Mountain Golf Course in Jackson were joined Monday on the sixth fairway by a llama that escaped from his pen about 2 miles (over 3 kilometers) through some woods. The Conway Daily Sun reports that the pack animal, named Noir, was friendly and got in pictures with the golfers. The fugitive is 

    More >>