Characterising asteroid structure with the Asteroid Intercept Mission (AIM)
Comparative Planetology
Simon F. Green
The AIM Mission Advisory Team
The Open University
The Asteroid Intercept Mission (AIM) is an ESA Technology Mission of Opportunity, currently under study for a 2020 launch to the binary near-Earth asteroid (65803) Didymos. It forms, with NASA’s DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test), ESA’s contribution to AIDA (Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment).

Asteroid impacts on the Earth are rare events but can, as evidenced by past mass extinctions, have devastating consequences for life on Earth. This threat was brought into stark focus by the Chelyabinsk meteorite in 2013, which was less than 20m in size and caused only local damage. However, the majority of asteroids of sizes around ten times larger have not yet been discovered and could cause devastation on a regional or continent-wide scale. AIDA is a precursor mission that would validate the kinetic impactor approach to deflect a threatening asteroid in this size range.

The AIDA concept involves separate launches, of the DART spacecraft towards a high-speed impact on the moon of Didymos, and of the AIM spacecraft to determine the physical properties of the Didymos system and observe effects of the DART impact. The measurements of asteroid properties that are relevant for a mitigation test are also of fundamental scientific interest. The AIM model payload of cameras, thermal infrared spectrometer, low and high-frequency radars and a small lander will reveal the subsurface and interior structure of a small asteroid that provide clues to its binary formation and evolution.
09:00 - 10:30