Researchers Craft a Plan to Redirect Asteroids

Launching nearly two dozen rockets at a space rock could alter its course — provided they all strike at the same time.

Chinese researchers have been working on a plan to avoid an Armageddon-esque asteroid hitting Earth, should the issue ever present itself.

It doesn’t involve Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck, but rather sending 23 of the country’s largest rockets in an effort to redirect the large rock.

According to Reuters, researchers at China’s National Space Science Center discovered 23 Long March 5 rockets could change an asteroid’s original course by 1.4 times the radius of the Earth — provided they all strike simultaneously.

This method is deemed a lower risk than sending nuclear explosives to meet the asteroid, a method that could result in smaller fragments that remain on a collision course with Earth.

The researchers used an asteroid named Bennu as the basis for their calculations. Bennu’s width is equivalent to the Empire State Building’s height. It orbits the sun and resides in a class of rocks which could result in regional and continental damage if they struck Earth. Any asteroid exceeding 1 kilometer in length is an issue on a global scale.

China has already launched six Long March 5 rockets since 2016, but there is still work to be done. The sixth launch in May ended with debris reentering the atmosphere. Leading up to its landing in the Indian Ocean, the exact location of where the debris would hit was unknown.

"By increasing the mass hitting the asteroid, simple physics should ensure a much greater effect," Professor Alan Fitzsimmons from the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen's University Belfast told Reuters. He added that the actual operation of such a mission needs to be studied in greater detail.

Professor Gareth Collins at Imperial College London estimates a 1% chance of a 100-meter-wide asteroid hitting Earth in the next 100 years.

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