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Asteroid Deflection

July 2, 2008

A new research center will look for ways to deflect incoming asteroids.


Practicing asteroid deflection. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

On any given day, the odds of a large asteroid hitting the Earth are, well, astronomically low. But if it happened, it could wipe out an entire city, or worse. That’s why Iowa State University has created an Asteroid Deflection Research Center, led by aerospace engineer Bong Wie.

BONG WIE (Iowa State University):
We are not going to propose some science-fictional scheme. We will be very realistic in selecting many options already available to us.

Possible strategies include blowing up the asteroid in space with a nuclear weapon, smacking it with a projectile, or using a spacecraft’s gravity to slowly drag it off course. Wie will be working with scientists around the world; they’ll not only model these approaches on computers, but also practice on small, non-threatening asteroids in space. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.