More than 1,200 scientists joined a campaign to urge governments to provide the necessary support to NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) for their joint asteroid deflection mission. According to the scientists, failing to proceed with the mission will increase Earth's chances of getting hit by an asteroid.
Currently, both the ESA and NASA are working on a joint effort known as the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA). As its name suggests, the AIDA mission will focus on trying to deflect an asteroid away from a collision course with Earth.
For the first stage of the mission, NASA will launch a spacecraft and crash it on the binary asteroid known as Didymos. Then, NASA will launch its HERA mission to analyze the effects of the impact on the asteroid and its trajectory.
Although the objective of the mission is very important, the AIDA project is still looking to gather more support from the public sector. To speed up this process, co-founders of Asteroid Day recently held a press conference at the Museum for Naturkunde in Berlin, Germany, Space Daily reported.
The purpose of the event is to introduce a new campaign aimed at urging politicians and government agencies to provide the necessary support for the AIDA mission. As part of the campaign, the organizers released an open letter that was signed by over 1,200 scientists from different parts of the world.
"As citizens of our Solar System, we need to expand our body of knowledge of the Universe in which we live and how we can protect our planet from hazards originating from space," the organizers of the campaign wrote in the open letter.
"Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) 100-m in diameter or larger will either strike the Earth's surface or explode in a fireball at low altitude, in both cases causing severe damage over regions of thousands of square kilometers or more," they added.
According to the organizers, a major impact event caused by a massive asteroid has the potential to wipe out a huge percentage of life on the planet. With today's technology, scientists believe that an asteroid headed for Earth can be successfully deflected. This is the main reason why they are urging governments to support NASA and ESA's mission.
"We strongly urge governments to keep the upcoming Hera mission high on the agenda … providing new and vital knowledge necessary to protect ourselves and future generations," they wrote in the letter.