Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Thursday, February 28, 2013

Asteroid Impact Mission Picks A Target

A rendering of Didymos with its moon. (European Space Agency)

A rendering of Didymos with its moon. (European Space Agency)

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have announced a plan to intercept an asteroid in 2022 and throw it off course.

The mission would slam a spacecraft into a “binary” asteroid called Didymos, which is actually two space rocks orbiting each other – one about 2,600 feet across, the other about 490 feet.

A rendering of the AIDA mission concept. (European Space Agency)

A rendering of the AIDA mission concept. (European Space Agency)

Didymos is not on a course to hit Earth, but it’s coming close enough (within 6.8 million miles) to conduct an experiment to learn more about how humanity could deflect a potentially dangerous asteroid.

The plan comes after a meteorite exploded Feb. 15 above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, injuring 1,200 people and damaging thousands of buildings. On the same day, an asteroid called “2012 DA14” came historically close to planet Earth.

Plans for the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment mission, or AIDA as it’s called, have been in the works long before our recent close encounters with large celestial bodies.

It’s just one of the strategies scientists are developing to help Earth avoid a catastrophic collision with an asteroid.

Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory is providing AIDA’s collider, and the observing spacecraft will come from ESA.


  • Kelly Beatty, senior contributing editor for Sky & Telescope magazine.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.

Experts share a range of perspectives on how to combat the Islamic State militant group, and the role the U.S. should play.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

November 26 7 Comments

Arlo Guthrie Celebrates 50 Years Of ‘Alice’s Restaurant’

Listening to the 18-minute musical monologue has been a Thanksgiving tradition among folk music fans for decades.

November 26 Comment

One Refugee’s Story Of Coming To America

Paul Okot vividly remembers landing at JFK airport in New York at 7 years old, after fleeing violence in southern Sudan.

November 25 3 Comments

Rapper Le1f Finds Struggle And Moral Diversity In American Music

We've been asking musicians what they think of when they think "American music." Today we hear from Khalif Diouf, aka Le1f.

November 24 7 Comments

Ferguson: One Year Later

City council member Wesley Bell looks back on the past year since protests and violence swept the Missouri city.