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February 8 2013
My colleague Ian O’Neill has described one of the most unique interplanetary missions in the history of space exploration, and I’d say also one of the most important technological steps in the evolution of the human species.
The Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission to a binary asteroid will be the first precise test as to whether, sometime in the future, a deadly asteroid barreling toward Earth could be knocked off course by whacking it with a projectile.
In addition to hitting an asteroid, the AIDA close encounter will provide valuable information on rotation, gravity, geology, and surface properties, around the pair of asteroids gravitationally embraced in a binary orbit.
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