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Deflecting the Asteroid Threat

The asteroid threat continues, and scientists continue to work frantically to figure out how to deflect dangerous asteroids that may be heading our way, before they impact the earth?or infect us with dangerous alien bacteria.

In New Scientist magazine, David Shiga writes that "a swarm of mirror-bearing spacecraft could deflect an asteroid by focusing sunlight on its surface." They would heat up its surface and vaporize it. As gases evaporating from the asteroid, they would create a small thrust in the opposite direction and change its orbit so that it would (hopefully) miss the earth.

A major impact may not be the only threat from asteroids. Can bacteria hitch a ride from one planet to another on a space rock? And if it can, is this good or bad?

In another New Scientist article, David Shiga writes about scientists who are going to test this theory by taking a rock into space from earth on a rocket, then sending it back to earth in order to find out if the fiery heat of re-entry into the earth?s atmosphere kills off the bacteria on it.

Art credit: gimp-savvy.com

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