Redirecting city-killer asteroids with kamikaze spacecraft

Nowadays, it seems like meteors are finding their way into the news more and more. Two days ago, the skies over Alabama played host to one, and we probably don't have to remind you about the explosive visitor that violated Russian airspace back in February. But both of these recent events pale in comparison with the monster space rocks that European scientists are trying to prepare for for.

The NEOShield Consortium is focused on developing defenses against city-killer asteroids. Every few hundred years, their estimates say, Earth is at risk from one of these lurking menaces. What's more, we can't think of any cities that have been wiped off the face of the planet in recent years, so arguably, we're past due for something catastrophic.

To keep Earth safe, Project NEOShield is designing a series of massive spacecraft known as kinetic impactors. These will be launched from Earth at a high rate of speed and suicide themselves against any dangerous incoming asteroids. Hopefully, this will either speed up or slow down the asteroids enough to allow for a near-miss instead of a direct hit.

When we say "a high rate of speed," we mean it. In testing what effect their doomed spacecraft will have on giant asteroids, NEOShield scientists have accelerated millimeter-sized objects to over 22,000 miles per hour before slamming them into blocks of stone. Check out the results of their tests here, and keep your fingers crossed that these hard-workin' guys and gals will have our backs covered come Armageddon.

NEOShield.net, via Fraunhofer

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