Next week, Rome will be hosting a conference where both agencies will be showing up to discuss their progress in regards to a mission that will focus on deflecting asteroids that could possibly pose a danger to us. They are calling it the Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (aka, AIDA),
At the moment, there aren’t any asteroids that are on their way to make an absolute impact (at least none that would keep us up at night) any time soon. However, that doesn’t mean we should be relaxing our defenses. The chance of it happening will always be looming no matter how small, and eventually, the time will indeed come.
So the two agencies are using a double-bodied asteroid called “Didymos” as their test sample. They are going to crash a NASA spacecraft called DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) into one of the bodies in an attempt to deflect its path. A small satellite will record everything so the teams can monitor the results. All of this not happening until September 2022.
ESA will later (2024) launch a craft of their own that will arrive in 2027 to determine the effects of the impact on the surface of the asteroid, and if it had enough of an effect. Samples will be taken and observed.
By working together, they hope to greatly enhance the amount of data they can collect, and start building a defense plan for protecting the Earth from asteroids in the future.