The joint US-European AIDA—that’s Asteroid Deflection and Assessment—mission intends to crash a probe into a 525-foot-wide asteroid known as Didymoon to see if the impact will change its orbital path. The egg-shaped asteroid is actually part of a binary system and orbits its larger partner, Didymos, every 12 hours, per Phys.org. NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) probe will crash into Didymoon at a speed of roughly 13,420mph, while ESA’s Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM) will study the effects so researchers can determine whether Didymoon’s orbit was indeed altered, reports ITV News.

As ESA mission manager Ian Carnelli explains, “We will gain insight into … how the technique could be applied if a real threat were to occur.” “To protect Earth from potentially hazardous impacts, we need to understand asteroids much better—what they are made of, their structure, origins, and how they respond to collisions,” an ESA lead investigator says of the plan, revealed Wednesday at the European Planetary Science Congress in France. CONTINUE