The AIM spacecraft will be launched in October 2020 on board an Ariana 6 launch vehicle from Kourou. After launch and one or more deep-space manoeuvres, AIM will arrive at Didymos in June 2022, some months before DART's impact.
After arrival, the AIM spacecraft will transition into a heliocentric co-flying orbit, from which it will observe the binary system to derive a high-resolution 3D model of the asteroid, determine its mass and dynamical state, and characterise its surface and shallow sub-surface properties by means of a thermal infrared imager and high-frequency radar.
This first characterisation phase would last for a couple of months and be conducted from a distance of between 35 to 10 km from the asteroid.
Following this, the AIM spacecraft will release a number of CubeSats and a lander which is based on DLR’s MASCOT lander used for the JAXA Hayabusa-2 mission. The lander will carry out a detailed characterization of the deep-interior structure of the asteroid by means of a low-frequency bistatic radar.
Approximately two weeks before DART impact, the AIM spacecraft would be moved to an orbit about 100 km from the asteroid to safely conduct impact observations. After the impact, a second characterisation phase would conclude the mission.