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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

NASA's plan to bat away Earth-bound asteroids

•, David Szondy

The odds of the Earth being hit by a large asteroid are extremely slim, but the potential damage is extremely large, so a partnership of scientists have been studying a conceptual spacecraft designed to deflect dangerous asteroids before they reach us. Called the Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response (HAMMER) vehicle, the 9-m (30-ft) tall, 8.8-ton spacecraft is a modular construct that can either ram an asteroid directly or act as a bomb carrier to deliver a nuclear warhead.

According to NASA, no one has been killed by an asteroid or meteorite in over a thousand years, but there have been many close calls. In addition, exploration of the Solar System, Earth's geological history and even recent historical events like the Tunguska Event show that an asteroid strike could have catastrophic effects, possibly even the kind of mass extinctions not seen since the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago.

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