UPDATE – Just in time to create really BIG fireworks for the 4th of July, an asteroid that may be a half-mile in diameter wide is coming our way. Astronomers assure us there is no danger of impact, but it will make an unusually close pass on that day. We’ve had other near misses lately.

Joe Rao writes in space.com that when this asteroid was first discovered, there were fears that it might hit the earth sometime in this century, so scientists have been monitoring it carefully in case they felt they had to try out some of their new techniques to destroy it or deflect it.

Art credit: gimp-savvy.com

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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.
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Computers aren’t just used to figure out the present?they can also predict the future. Supercomputers play out various scenarios having to do with global warming?and asteroid impacts. You can be sure that the scenario in Iraq was played out on superocomputers before we invaded. It’s one way scientists can know what to do, in case the worst happens. Now a supercomputer has simulated how to keep the earth safe from an asteroid impact. This is what killed the dinosaurs and it?s almost inevitable that it will eventually wipe us out as well?unless we’re prepared.
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An asteroid has been corkscrewing around earth for years.It’s finally heading off into deep space, so it won’timpact theearth.

Space.com reports that asteroid 2003 YN107 was discovered in2003 and started corkscrewing around earth in 1999. NASA’SPaul Chodas says it is “one of a whole population ofnear-Earth asteroids that don’t just fly by Earth. Theypause and corkscrew in our vicinity for years before movingalong.”

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