The most credible
asteroid threat to the Earth that we know of today is the Apophis
asteroid that was estimated to have a one in 250,000 chance of
striking the Earth. NASA announced in October 2009 that the asteroid
is expected to pass
within 18,000 miles of Earth in 2029. NASA later said that it has
"all but ruled out" the chance of the asteroid hitting the
Earth in 2036.
Despite NASA determining that the asteroid will
not hit the Earth, Russian scientists are readying
a plan to prevent the potential impact. The Russian plan reads
like something Bruce Willis would be involved with, yet the plan is
surprisingly void of oil field workers. The Russian researchers are
considering a plan to send a spacecraft to bump the large asteroid to
a safer orbit.
Scientist Anatoly Perminov told a 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."
continued saying, "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
Perminov states that the details of the plan
still need to be worked out, but he invited NASA, the ESA, and other
space agencies to participate in the planning. The Guardian
reports that space researcher Matt Genge from the Imperial College
London has calculated that a spaceship to move the asteroid to a
different trajectory would only need to have the approximate mass,
acceleration, and thrust of a small car to push the asteroid out of
the path of Earth in 75 days.
Other methods to change the
trajectory of an asteroid include mirrors, light, or paint to change
the way the asteroid absorbs heat enough to shift its direction.
These methods would take about 20 years to change the path of the