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The Asteroid Peril Isn’t Science Fiction


... Even if we managed to spot a small but dangerous asteroid heading for Earth, we currently have no means to stop it.

Many scientists argue that the most effective way to deal with a threat from a small asteroid would be to send up an unmanned spacecraft armed with a nuclear explosive device (they hesitate to call it a bomb) to blow it up or nudge it off course.

Nuking an incoming asteroid is also the preferred Hollywood method—it worked spectacularly well for Bruce Willis in the exciting but scientifically challenged 1998 film “Armageddon”—but the nuclear option faces serious hurdles in the real world. Sending nuclear weapons into space, even to save Denver, makes lots of people nervous and could violate international treaties governing the militarization of space.


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