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The mission will take place in two parts, and this month marked the start of preliminary design work on ESA's Asteroid Impact Mission, or AIM.
Intended to demonstrate technologies for future deep-space missions, AIM will also be the Agency's very first investigation of planetary defence techniques.
Launched in October 2020, AIM will travel to a binary asteroid system – the paired Didymos asteroids, which will come a comparatively close 11 million km to Earth in 2022.
The 800 m-diameter main body is orbited by a 170 m moon, informally called 'Didymoon'.
This smaller body is AIM's focus: the spacecraft will perform high-resolution visual, thermal and radar mapping of the moon to build detailed maps of its surface and interior structure.
AIM will also put down a lander – ESA's first touchdown on a small body since Rosetta's Philae landed on a comet last November.
Two or more CubeSats will also be dispatched from the mothership to gather other scientific data in the vicinity of the moon.
Didymoon Sounds like a rapper