Over a thousand scientists expressed their support for a campaign aimed at bolstering NASA and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) joint planetary defense mission. The scientists warned that if the mission doesn’t push through, Earth will be in danger of getting destroyed by an asteroid.

NASA and the ESA’s two-part mission has been dubbed as the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA).  This first stage of the mission involves launching NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft and intentionally crashing it on the orbiting moon of the asteroid Didymos.

Once this has been completed, the ESA will launch its HERA mission to study the effects of NASA’s spacecraft on the target asteroid. The main goal of the mission will be to determine if deflecting asteroids via impacts could be a viable planetary defense technique.

Recently, during a press event held at the Museum for Naturkunde in Berlin, the founders of Asteroid Day unveiled a campaign in support of the AIDA mission, Space Daily reported. For the campaign, the organizers unveiled an open letter urging politicians and government agencies to provide the necessary support for the mission. The letter was signed by over 1,200 scientists.

“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 in space,” the founders wrote in the letter, according to Express. “Near-Earth asteroids will either strike the Earth’s surface or explode in a fire all at low altitude, in both cases causing severe damage over regions of thousands of square kilometers or more.”

According to the organizers of the campaign, a major impact event caused by an asteroid has the potential to wipe out a huge percentage of life on the planet. They also noted that a potential asteroid impact is easier to predict and detect than certain natural disasters on Earth.

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.

NASA Asteroid family Mars and Jupiter This artist concept catastrophic collisions between asteroids located in the belt between Mars and Jupiter and how they have formed families of objects on similar orbits around the sun. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech