Space & Astronomy
Europe withdraws from anti-asteroid mission
By T.K. Randall
September 21, 2017 · 4 comments
One spacecraft was to fly in to the target while the other observed. Image Credit: European Space Agency
An upcoming mission designed to test out the deflection of a large asteroid has hit a bit of a snag.
Known as AIDA (Asteroid Deflection and Impact Assessment), the mission was to consist of two parts.
The US-led component, known as DART ( Double Asteroid Redirection Test ), was to send a small spacecraft to deliberately collide with the moon of a large asteroid known as Didymos.
Europe, meanwhile, was to launch AIM ( Asteroid Impact Mission ), a probe that would travel to the scene of the experiment where it could collect data about the impact as it happens.
Now though, European officials have rejected the 250-million-euro proposal for the AIM part of the mission, leaving the future of the whole endeavour in doubt.
Instead, a much cheaper and cut-down version of the spacecraft has been proposed, one that could still potentially stick to NASA's deadline if the impact was to take place as planned in 2022.
As things stand however, it remains unclear when, if at all, the new proposal will be approved.
"There are measurements that AIM can make that DART cannot," said Andrew Cheng from Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory. "We all together have to convince the national delegations to spend some money for this mission."
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