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Russia Looks to Divert Asteroid

5. January 2010 by Daniel 0 Comments

Russia is considering a mission to divert an asteroid that could possibly be on a path to collide with Earth, according to the head of Russia's space agency.


Anatoly Perminov told the Voice of Russia last week that plans were being discussed in closed-door meetings for a mission to divert the asteroid, known as Apophis.


However, international estimates differ on the likelihood of the asteroid making an impact with the planet. Estimates have ranged from as likely as a 1-in-37 chance of a strike to a much less worrisome 1-in-250,000 chance. The asteroid is said to be on a course to make several near-Earth passes between the years 2029 and 2036.


Perminov did not give details about exactly how the agency might try to divert the asteroid. However, he did say that such an effort would be an international collaboration and would not involve the use of nuclear weapons. If the asteroid were to hit Earth, sources say it would have the effect of a 500 megaton nuclear blast.


Possible solutions include using spacecraft to force the asteroid away from the planet or using “solar sails” that involve the wind of particles ejected from the sun to guide the object further out into space.