US, Europe Plan Asteroid Strike Mission

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The United States and Europe will launch a mission to see if they can knock an asteroid out of its orbit.

The idea behind the joint effort, named Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment, or AIDA, is to launch two spacecrafts to intercept a pair of binary asteroids named Didymos. The asteroids orbit one another as they travel around the sun when it's closest to Earth.

According to researchers, that will take place in 2022, when Didymos will be just 11 million kilometers away.

A 600-pound spacecraft developed by a team at Johns Hopkins University would smash into the smaller of the two asteroids, which in turn would knock the bigger asteroid out of orbit.

The idea gained strength after the largest meteor to hit Earth in a century exploded over Russia just a week ago.

After two years of research, the mission is still very much in its planning stage and won't be launched until 2022.

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