AIDA (mission)

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Mission type Asteroid probe
Operator European Space Agency, NASA
Website AIDA study
Spacecraft properties
Launch mass DART: 300 kg (660 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date AIM: October 2020[1] (proposed)
DART: July 2021 (proposed)
Rocket AIM: Soyuz-STA/Fregat
DART: Minotaur V[2]
(65803) Didymos[3][4] orbiter
Spacecraft component AIM
Orbital insertion October 2022 (proposed)
(65803) Didymos[4] impactor

The Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission is a proposed space probe which would study and demonstrate the kinetic effects of crashing an impactor spacecraft into an asteroid moon. The mission is intended to test whether a spacecraft could successfully deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth.[5] It would be composed of two spacecraft: Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM), which would orbit the asteroid, and Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), which would impact its moon. Besides the observation of the change of orbital parameters of the asteroid moon, the observation of the plume, the crater, and the freshly exposed material will provide unique information for asteroid deflection, science and mining communities.

As of 2016, the mission is still in the conceptual phase with a proposed launch for AIM in October 2020, and for DART in July 2021. The impact of DART would be in October 2022 during a close approach to Earth.[3][6] In December 2016 the AIM spacecraft portion of AIDA was not funded to help pay for ExoMars.[7] However, NASA has said plans to continue with its portion of the mission.[8] This works out well as in the early 2010s NASA planetary funding was reduced in favour of asteroid science to the point it could not fund its part of ExoMars.


The AIDA mission is a joint international collaboration of the European Space Agency (ESA), the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur (OCA), NASA, and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL).[3] The project was formed by joining two separate studies, DART, an asteroid impactor developed by NASA, and a monitoring spacecraft - ESA's AIM.[3]

Mission design[edit]

AIDA would target 65803 Didymos, a binary asteroid system in which one asteroid is orbited by a smaller one. The primary asteroid is about 800 m (2,600 ft) in diameter; its small satellite is about 150 m (490 ft) in diameter in an orbit about 1.1 km from the primary. Didymos is not an Earth-crossing asteroid, and there is no possibility that the deflection experiment could create an impact hazard.[9] The assessment is ongoing.

Under the current proposal, AIM would launch in October 2020, and DART in July 2021. AIM would orbit the larger asteroid and study the composition of it and its moon. DART would then impact the moon on October 2022, during a close approach to Earth.[3][6] AIM would study in situ the effect on the asteroid moon's orbit around the larger asteroid. An equal timing of the experiment is set for both missions, and both spacecraft would be able to operate independently.

The impact of the 300 kg (660 lb) DART spacecraft at 6.25 km/s will produce a velocity change on the order of 0.4 mm/s, which leads to a significant change in the mutual orbit of these two objects, but only a minimal change in the heliocentric orbit of the system.[2][3][9] AIDA will provide data on the asteroid's strength, surface physical properties and its internal structure. There is great benefit to obtain the size of the resulting impact crater in addition to the momentum transfer measurement, as the effects of porosity and strength of the target are needed to calculate the momentum transfer efficiency.[3][9]

Fly-by of Orpheus[edit]

The DART mission is also proposed to make a fly-by observation of asteroid 3361 Orpheus during its trajectory to 65803 Didymos.[10]

Proposed payload[edit]

The payload is under assessment, and the notional requirements are:[2][9]

  • an asteroid lander (based on the German MASCOT heritage) for in-situ measurements
  • a thermal infrared imager to discriminate different surface properties like rocks or granular surfaces
  • a monostatic high frequency radar to obtain information on the structure of the asteroid's surface
  • a bistatic low frequency radar (on the orbiter and on the lander) that allows a view inside the asteroid and obtain data on its inner structure
  • two interplanetary CubeSats [11] out of five proposals currently under investigation that support the science and technology objectives of the AIM and AIDA mission
  • deep-space optical communication

DART is a 300 kg (660 lb) impactor that hosts no scientific payload other than a 20-cm aperture CCD camera to support autonomous guiding to impact the target body through its center.


Both AIM and DART have been approved for a Phase A/B1 study, starting in February 2015 for fifteen months.[9][needs update]

In December 2016 the ESA component, the AIM mission was not funded at that time to help pay for additional expenses of part 2 of ExoMars, the second launch that is planned to land the ExoMars (rover).[7] ExoMars rover has been in development since at least 2005 when over half a billion Euros was authorized for it.[7]

Germany offered to cover 35 million of the 60 million needed for the AIM portion to continue, however, this was not enough to continue development.[8] Nevertheless, NASA can still continue with other portion of the mission, DART, so overall AIDA can continue in some way.[12] The director has said that he may be able to revive the AIM portion of the mission in future before the timeline for meeting the launch window passes.[12] It is technically possible for the DART mission to continue, but it may require more support from the ground, and the AIDA program overall would be deprived of data AIM would provide.[12]

I’m convinced that this is a good mission.

— ESA Director General on AIDA[12]

In July 2015, NASA announced plans to redirect a small asteroid as part of the DART project in 2022, attempting to redirect a small asteroid named Didymos B, part of a binary asteroid system.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Winder, Jenny (6 April 2015). "Design work begins on asteroid lander mission". SEN News. Retrieved 2015-04-07. 
  2. ^ a b c Cheng, A.F.; Michel, P.; Reed, C.; Galvez, A.; Carnelli, I. (2012). DART: Double Asteroid Redirection Test (PDF). European Planetary Science Congress 2012. EPSC Abstracts. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment (AIDA) study Archived 2015-06-07 at the Wayback Machine..
  4. ^ a b "AIDA study". ESA. 19 December 2012. Archived from the original on 20 October 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-19. 
  5. ^ AIDA mission rationale Archived May 11, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.. ESA, 25 May 2012.
  6. ^ a b Miriam Kramer (26 March 2013). "Asteroid Deflection Mission AIDA Set To Crash Two Spacecraft Into Space Rock In 2022". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-09-19. 
  7. ^ a b c [1]
  8. ^ a b [2]
  9. ^ a b c d e "AIDA: Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment Mission Under Study at ESA and NASA" (PDF). Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur. February 2015. Retrieved 2015-03-29. 
  10. ^ A.F. Cheng et al., "Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment mission: Kinetic impactor," Planetary and Space Science (Available online 4 January 2016)
  11. ^ Cubesat Companions for ESA's Astroid [sic] Mission. Source: ESA. November 2, 2015.
  12. ^ a b c d [3]
  13. ^ Andone, Dakin (July 25, 2017). "NASA unveils plan to test asteroid defense technique". CNN. Retrieved July 25, 2017. 

External links[edit]