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Asteroid Coming Our Way?Again

An asteroid will pass close to the Earth on April 13, 2029 and it may come back and hit us in 2036. NASA is trying to decide whether to try to tag the asteroid with a warning radio beacon before it hits. They may also try to nudge it out of its current path, so it will miss us. They only need to move it about half a mile out of its current orbit?something we know how to do. But they have to do the job before 2029, or else they?ll have to move it a distance as large as the diameter of the Earth, which is more than we?re capable of doing at the moment. At least we know it's coming?or is it better not to know? NASA's Donald Yeomans says, "Ten years ago, we would have been blissfully ignorant."

An asteroid flies this close to the planet only once every 1,300 years. The chance to study it will help scientists deal with the object should it threaten to collide with the Earth. The asteroid, called Apophis, is one of more than 600 known potentially hazardous asteroids.

If NASA can manage to put measuring equipment on the asteroid's surface, scientists will be able to study an asteroid's interior for the first time.

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