Photo: "Killer Asteroid" Debate Pits Gravity Tractors Against Bombs, Projectiles



An artist's conception shows the satellite NEAR Shoemaker in orbit around the near-Earth asteroid 433 Eros. From 2000 to 2001 the car-size satellite was used to conduct the first long-term, close-up study of the 21-mile-long (33-kilometer-long) asteroid, providing vital clues to its shape and composition.

Here on Earth scientists have been hotly debating the best strategies for deflecting near-Earth asteroids that might be on a collision course with our planet.

Illustration by Pat Rawling, courtesy NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory


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