Scientists To Test Plan For Saving Earth from Asteroid Collision
It sounds like science-fiction, but it's not. The European Space Agency is planning a project similar to the plot of the movie Armageddon, in which a group of astronauts is sent out to head off and blow up a huge asteroid that’s hurtling towards Earth.
The real mission, if it goes ahead in 2015, won't try to "blow up" the asteroid. The goal is to fire a satellite into the asteroid at high speed to see if its course can be changed.
The aim is to assess whether it would be possible to save Earth using this method, should we discover that an asteroid is on a collision course with our planet.
The mission, called Don Quijote, will involve sending two spacecraft towards a near-Earth asteroid.
One craft will crash into the asteroid at six miles per second. The other will follow at a safe distance to record data from the collision.
One potential target is a quarter mile wide asteroid called 99942 Apophis, which experts say does have a minute chance - around one in 250,000 - of hitting Earth in 2036, so it would make for useful target practice.