Fact following fiction? Scientists plan mission to blow up an asteroid ‘hurtling towards Earth’

It seemed far-fetched on the silver screen.

But the European Space Agency is planning to launch a mission similar to the plot of Hollywood movie Armageddon, in which Bruce Willis and his intrepid team attempt to blow up a huge asteroid that’s hurtling towards Earth.

The real version, if it goes ahead in 2015, will see a satellite fired at break-neck speed into a ‘test’ asteroid to see if its course changes.

The aim is to assess whether it would be possible to save Earth using this method, should we discover that an asteroid is on a collision course with our planet.

The mission, called Don Quijote, will involve sending two spacecraft towards a near-Earth asteroid.

One will be an ‘impactor’, which is fired into the asteroid, the other an orbitor that will analyse data from the experiment.

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