News Stories

When Asteroids Collide (on Purpose)

If an asteroid threatens to come our way, one way to destroy or deflect it would be to fire another asteroid at it, kind of like hitting one ball with another on an outer space pool table.

We would find a relatively small asteroid?around 100 feet in diameter?and send a robot to land on it and nudge it, until it became captured by earth's gravity. Once that happened, we could keep it there, safely circling the earth, until needed. Then, when we saw a large asteroid heading our way, destined for an major impact with the earth, we could send a robot back to the small one and "fire" it at the incoming rock, which would then break into pieces that would rain down harmlessly onto the earth.

In LiveScience.com, Robert Roy Britt quotes French astronomer Didier Massonnet as saying, "The fragments would be dispersed all over the Earth and, hopefully, none would be large enough to reach the ground with a large remaining destructive power."

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