The mission to save Earth from potentially catastrophic asteroids

Monitoring the near-Earth environment for asteroids is important to safeguard the planet (artist & credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Monitoring the near-Earth environment for asteroids is important to safeguard the planet (artist & credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Small asteroids frequently fly past the Earth, some even closer than the Moon. But as students of the dinosaur era know, they can cause catastrophic effects to the planet. A number of programmes are underway which enable scientists to plot the movement of asteroids that trespass into Earth’s cosmic neighbourhood. But the theoretical methods for destroying those which might pose a danger are, of course, untested. The question remains whether or not we will be able to protect the planet when such a threat occurs.

ASTEROIDS larger than one kilometre are capable of causing a global catastrophe. Debris from the impact would propagate through the atmosphere, partially blocking out sunlight...

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