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Cosmic Crash 2022 : Scientists set to intentionally crash a spacecraft into asteroid Didymos

Mar 27 (): Scientists in both Europe and the United States are moving ahead with plans to intentionally crash a spacecraft into a huge nearby asteroid in 2022, which they call as cosmic crash 2022, in order to study the inside of the space rock, says a report.

Scientists are involved in the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission that will launch in 2019 and in the mission they would learn how to deflect asteroids threatening Earth by crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid in 2022.

In the mission, it will send two spacecraft — one built by US scientists and the other by the European Space Agency on a three-year voyage to the asteroid Didymos and its companion at a cost of around £ 225 million.

Asteroid Didymos has no chance of impacting the Earth and thus it makes a perfect choice for this type of fact-finding missions. It has been selected as an ideal target for the mission, scientists said during a presentation on March 19 at the 44th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

The Didymos asteroid is described as a binary asteroid system consisting of two separate space rocks stuck together by the forces of gravity. The main asteroid is said to measure at 2,625 feet (800 meters) across. It’s orbited by a smaller asteroid that’s roughly 490 feet (150 meters).

In 2022, the Didymos asteroid is estimated to be at a distance of 6.8 million miles from the Earth and it is also considered as the close approach, which is the reason AIDA scientists have selected the mission for that year.

Andy Rivkin and his colleagues are working on the U.S. arms of the AIDA project. They are building DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test), one of the two space crafts involved in the AIDA Didymos project.

DART will crash into the smaller orbiting Didymos asteroid at a speed of 14,000 mph (22,530 kh/h) and create a crater. The impact is expected to deflect the rock from its original course by a few millimetres.

The second spacecraft in the AIDA mission is Asteroid Impact Monitor (AIM) and it is being built by the European Space Agency (ESA). AIM will witness the impact from a distance and collect data that will be used to study the details of the impact event.

The exact structure of the Didymos asteroids is not yet known, but scientists anticipate once the spacecraft impacts, they will be able to measure how much the orbit of the asteroid is affected and determine its surface composition.