Scientists to Fire Spacecraft at Asteroid in Earth Defence Test

Scientists plan to fire a spacecraft into an asteroid in an effort to prepare for one being on a direct collision course with Earth.

The news came as Nasa moved to dismiss claims that a comet was already hurtling towards our planet.

Plans for a test mission to prevent an asteroid colliding with Earth come from Nasa’s cousin, the European Space Agency.

The trial, dubbed Don Quixote, will see two spacecraft launched. One will attempt to push the asteroid off its course while the second will collect valuable data from the impact.

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A potential target for the mission is a 1,600ft-wide asteroid called 99942 Apophis, which has a remote chance – roughly one in 250,000 – of hitting earth in 2036.

Nasa scientists yesterday took the unusual step of refuting claims sweeping the internet that comet Elenin, discovered last December, is on a deadly course.

Rumours include the comet plunging the Earth into darkness for three days by blocking out the Sun as well as colliding with Earth itself.

An official said: “The truth is that Elenin has received much more attention than it deserves due to a variety of internet postings that are untrue.”


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