The Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission is an international program that takes inspiration from the sci-fi blockbuster Armageddon (cue Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”).
AIDA is all about planetary defense, proposing to smash a spacecraft into an asteroid moon to alter its trajectory. The plan is to launch a 1,300-pound NASA spacecraft in the year 2022 into the direct path of Didymos, an asteroid that’s currently 8 million miles away. Scientists aim to crash the spacecraft into the asteroid’s moon, nicknamed Didymoon, at about 3.7 miles per second. If the test is successful, this would be the first time human beings altered the course of a Solar System body.
Europe plans to contribute to this mission by deploying the Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM) spacecraft. This little guy will hover close to the action, observing the collision and analyzing its impact. Using high-tech cameras, AIM won’t miss a single galactic detail.
This mission straight out of Hollywood recently suffered a major setback, however, at a policy and budget meeting in Switzerland. After the European Space Agency (ESA) proposed a budged of $269 million, the funding for AIM was rejected.
All is not lost for the AIM spacecraft, with ESA Director General Jan Woerner remaining hopeful about the mission’s future. The overall design of AIM was right on schedule, and several cost-cutting options are now being considered. The original plans included a camera, tiny lander, mini-satellites, radio equipment, and radar components. Now, the team may have to reduce the number of onboard scientific instruments, which may push the price down to $160 million.
As it currently stands, AIM has about two months left to find the necessary funds. On the bright side, the entire mission will still move ahead with or without the AIM spacecraft. Either way, we’ll still be seeing deep space collisions observed with Earth instruments.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense