Scientists design "gravity tractor" to save earth from asteroids

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London, Aug 30 (ANI): British space scientists have designed a special spacecraft that can save the earth from a catastrophic asteroid collision.

The 10 tonne spacecraft named "gravity tractor" would be deployed to intercept an asteroid en route to the earth and has the ability to fly 160 ft alongside it.

Once near an asteroid the craft will use gravitational force to pull the rock towards itself.

Gradually the gravity tractor will be able to change the asteroids path and thus make sure it misses the earth.

According to rough estimates of the American space agency NASA, there are more than 100,000 asteroids orbiting near the Earth and have the capacity to destroy cities.

The engineers of space company EADS Astrium, which designs crafts for NASA and the European Space Agency, have made the gravity tractor.

The team believes the craft could successfully divert the course of asteroids up to 430 yards across, which can release 100,000 times more than the Hiroshima bomb.

The Telegraph quoted Dr Ralph Cordey, science and exploration business development manager at Astrium as saying: "Anything bigger than 30m (32 yards) across is a real threat to the Earth.

"Unfortunately it is a matter of when rather than if one of them hits us.

"The gravity tractor exploits the principals of very basic physics - every object with a mass has its own gravity that affects objects around it. It can move fairly large objects 300 metres (984ft) to 400 metres (1,312ft) across.

"These asteroids are hurtling around our solar system at 10km per second, so when you scale that up, you just need a tiny nudge to send it off course." (ANI)

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