ESA to Begin Conducting Experiments for Controlled Asteroid Collision

 - Jan 23, 2013
References: & arstechnica
If movie masterpieces like 'Armageddon' and 'Deep Impact' have taught us anything, it is that asteroids are little more than pieces of lethal space shrapnel, waiting to only enter our atmosphere and vaporize all life on this planet. It's perhaps (but probably not) with this in mind that the European Space Agency (ESA) is beginning to experiment with a two-piece spacecraft to collect and observe results of a hyper-velocity collision.

The mission is interesting because scientists don't really know what will happen with the collision at speeds of 6.25 km/sec, a speed that will cause matter to vaporize instead of break apart like usual. The asteroid in the cross-hairs, 65803 Didymos, should yield interesting results as it has a smaller satellite mass orbiting it. The mission would have one half of the spaceship colliding with the smaller mass while the other half stays back and measures the results of the space collision. The mission is tentatively scheduled for 2022.

No word on whether Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis are available for some real life asteroid smashing.