Russia’s Armageddon Plan to Save Earth from Asteroid Collision

More interesting news from Russia to set your mind at ease. Via the Guardian:

Space scientists in Russia are preparing to boldly go where no man has gone before, except for the actor Bruce Willis.

The head of the Russian space agency said today that it was considering a Hollywood-style mission to send a spacecraft to bump a large asteroid from a possible collision course with Earth.

Anatoly Perminov told the Russian radio station Golos Rossii: “People’s lives are at stake. We should pay several hundred million dollars and build a system that would allow us to prevent a collision, rather than sit and wait for it to happen and kill hundreds of thousands of people.”

The mission would be aimed at an asteroid called Apophis, he said, which is expected to pass close to the Earth in 2029 and again in 2036. “Calculations show that it’s possible to create a special-purpose spacecraft within the time we have, which would help avoid the collision. The threat of collision can be averted.”

The Hollywood action films Deep Impact and Armageddon both featured space missions scrambling to avert catastrophic collisions, the latter led by Willis.

But the creation of a system to deflect asteroids has long been the subject of scientific debate. Some experts have proposed sending a probe to circle around a dangerous asteroid and gradually change its trajectory. Others suggested sending a spacecraft to collide with it and alter its momentum, or using nuclear weapons.

Perminov said details of the project still needed to be worked out. But he said the agency would invite Nasa, the European Space Agency and others to participate.

When Apophis was discovered in 2004, astronomers made headlines when they said there was a one in 37 chance that the 350-metre-wide rock would collide with Earth in 2029. Further studies ruled out such an impact, but there remains a one in 250,000 chance it could strike in 2036.

Read More in the Guardian