Armageddon? Scientists Plan Mission To Blow Up An Asteroid ‘Hurtling Towards Earth’

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Fact following fiction? Scientists plan mission to blow up an asteroid ‘hurtling towards Earth’

  • Plan is similar to the plot of Hollywood film Armageddon

By Ted Thornhill

Last updated at 7:58 AM on 17th August 2011


 It seemed far-fetched on the silver screen.

But the European Space Agency is planning to launch a mission similar to the plot of Hollywood movie Armageddon, in which Bruce Willis and his intrepid team attempt to blow up a huge asteroid that’s hurtling towards Earth.

The real version, if it goes ahead in 2015, will see a satellite fired at break-neck speed into a ‘test’ asteroid to see if its course changes.

Rescue plan: The European Space Agency is planning mission Don Quijote – to blow up a huge asteroid that could potentially be hurtling towards Earth

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 will be an ‘impactor’, which is fired into the asteroid, the other an orbitor that will analyse data from the experiment.

One potential target is a 1600ft-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 be useful target practice.

The 500kg impact craft, which will be called Hidalgo, will ram into the asteroid at a speed of around six miles a second.

The orbitor, called Sancho, will scan the collision and monitor whether the asteroid changes direction at all.

Brucey bonus: Armageddon starred Bruce Willis as the leader of a team of astronauts who destroy an asteroid that threatens to wipe out EarthBrucey bonus: Armageddon starred Bruce Willis as the leader of a team of astronauts who destroy an asteroid that threatens to wipe out Earth

There will be a lot of fingers crossed in mission control, as a big asteroid impact could wipe out life on Earth.

Nasa, meanwhile, is planning something even more spectacular.

It wants to put humans on the surface of an asteroid within 15 years.

But sending people to one won’t be easy. You can’t land on an asteroid because you’d bounce off – it has virtually no gravity. Astronauts couldn’t even walk on it because they’d float away.

Reaching it might require a Nasa spacecraft to harpoon the space rock.

Nasa is thinking about jetpacks, tethers, bungees, nets and spiderwebs to allow explorers to float just above the surface of it while attached to a smaller mini-spaceship.

Kent Joosten, chief architect of the human exploration team at Johnson Space Center, said: ‘This is the big step. This is out into the universe, away from Earth’s gravity completely… This is really where you are doing the Star Trek kind of thing.

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One Comment »

  1. EngameResetter August 19, 2011 at 8:34 am - Reply

    I hope Pakalert will not publish anymore about Nibiru, Comet, Asteroid, Solar and likewise. If it natural phenomenon or Act of God, just be it. It is human playing god that we are not accepting. Just keep focus on the real next wag the dog or false flag agenda, the Nuke 9/11. We all will try with our best effort to prevent it as per our capacity as human for human sake.

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