Chinese Astronomers Describe Asteroid Plan
August 19, 2011 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
BEIJING, Aug. 19 (UPI) — Chinese scientists say they have a plan to save the Earth from a possible collision with an asteroid that could take place in 2036.
A group of Chinese astronomers headed by Shengping Gong of Tsinghua University in Beijing have proposed using a spacecraft with a solar sail to prevent the possible collision of the asteroid Apophis with the Earth, RIA Novosti reported Thursday.
Apophis, 880 feet in diameter and weighing an estimated 46 million tons, will come within 23,000 miles of the Earth in 2029 and will return even closer in 2036, although NASA scientists say the likelihood of a hazardous strike on Earth in 2036 is unlikely.
The Chinese scientists say putting a spacecraft into an orbit designed to have it collide with the asteroid at a speed of 200,000 mph, if done early enough, would change the asteroid’s course and prevent Apophis from hitting Earth.