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Saturday, November 12, 2005

 

‘Gravity tractor’ to deflect Earth-bound asteroids

`NASA scientists have come up with a surprisingly simple yet effective way to deflect an Earth-bound asteroid – park a large spacecraft close by and let gravity do the work.

Previous suggestions have focused on deflecting an incoming asteroid with nuclear explosions. But NASA experts believe a “gravity tractor” should be able to perform the same feat by creating an invisible towline to tug the rock off its deadly course.

“Most people think of the Hollywood treatment – throw a nuclear weapon at it,” says Edward Lu, a NASA scientist and astronaut who developed the idea. But this would produce shattered pieces, some of which might still head towards Earth. “That’s the blast-and-hope strategy,” Lu adds.’




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