NASA May Send Probe to Earthbound Asteroid

Rock may hit planet ... in 2182
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2010 11:08 AM CDT
NASA May Send Probe to Earthbound Asteroid
A poster for the movie "Armageddon" is seen in this file photo.   (Getty Images)

Somebody call Bruce Willis, because NASA is considering landing a probe on an asteroid that’s hurtling toward Earth. Sounds exciting, right? Well, don’t run for your fallout shelter yet. There’s only a 1-in-1,000 chance the asteroid will hit, and if it does, it won’t happen until around September 24, 2182, the Daily Telegraph reports. Accordingly, NASA isn’t in a big hurry to send its probe—the proposed mission would launch in 2106.

Even then, the probe’s goal wouldn’t be to dramatically destroy the asteroid, but to collect rock samples that scientists could use to more accurately chart its trajectory. The proposal, dubbed OSIRIS-Rex, is competing with a mission to Venus for funding from NASA’s New Frontiers program. If the asteroid ever did hit earth, it would be like “hundreds of the biggest nuclear bombs ever built exploding at once,” says one planetary scientist. (Read more asteroid stories.)

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