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Astronauts and scientists convene to answer the question: what if an asteroid hits earth?

posted 29 Oct 2010, 09:48 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 29 Oct 2010, 09:51 ]

Scientists and astronauts discuss ways to deal with asteroid impact at a conference in Darmstadt.

A three-day workshop in the German city of Darmstadt has called in astronauts and scientists to discuss how the world would react to the threat of an asteroid impact.

Former Apollo 9 astronaut and head of the European Space Agency's committee on near-earth objects (NEOs) Rusty Schweickart was on hand for the forum organised to report to the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

"And the reason why we are all here is because recognising the fact that there is a threat and we can take action. What we need to do is bring the world together, recognise that this is a global threat. This is not Germany or the United States or ESA or anybody else. This is a global threat," Schweickart told the conference.

Participants at the conference will review the latest findings and information from asteroid and neo research and consider theoretical but plausible scenarios of an asteroid impact on earth.

"The question often arises in the general public: Can we in fact do something about this. And the answer is yes. We don't even have to develop new technologies. Our existing space technology enables us to actually slightly change the orbit of an asteroid that we see headed an impact 15 or 20 or 50 years ahead of us," Schweickart told Reuters Television.

The workshop's finding will later be merged with findings of other experts to create a final report to the UN committee. The report will recommend how to react to an impact threat.