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Thursday, December 31, 2009

From the people who brought you collective farming, Chernobyl and the near-destruction of the Aral Sea...

...a proposal to blast a wandering asteroid.

Russia's space agency chief said Wednesday a spacecraft may be dispatched to knock a large asteroid off course and reduce the chances of earth impact, even though U.S. scientists say such a scenario is unlikely.

Anatoly Perminov told Golos Rossii radio the space agency would hold a meeting soon to assess a mission to Apophis. He said his agency might eventually invite NASA, the European Space Agency, the Chinese space agency and others to join the project.

When the 270-meter (885-foot) asteroid was first discovered in 2004, astronomers estimated its chances of smashing into Earth in its first flyby, in 2029, at 1-in-37.

The plan itself is actually pretty sensible. I just have my doubts about the guys offering to do it. Russia's historical "HULK SMASH!" approach to various problems has been fraught with unintended consequences from the beginning.

In an interesting follow-up to this story, French scientists unveiled a back-up plan: offering Apophis our unconditional surrender.

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