Should the day arrive when an Earth-ending asteroid looms large on the horizon, rest assured that the Russians have a plan: blow the sucker out of the skies. With nuclear weapons.
Having presumably watched Armageddon on a wet Sunday afternoon, the European Commission established the NEOShield project in 2012 to investigate ways of protecting our planet from 'Near Earth Objects' - lumps of space rock that float within a concerning distance of our home.
The European Commission has recently revealed that during studies conducted between 2012-2015, Russian scientists were tasked with the question of what to do about an asteroid on collision course with Earth (which is a case of "when", rather than "if"). They believe the safest answer would be to send warheads into space to detonate the asteroid from a safe distance - pushing the asteroid out of its collision course with Earth, much like the plot of Armageddon.
There's one major obstacle to NEOShield's suggested plan though: the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 (we'd not heard of it either) bans the stationing or use of nuclear weapons in space.
"If the asteroid threat becomes a matter of serious damage or even the very existence of life on earth, that ban would naturally be lifted," the institute insists.
Less extreme options proposed during NEOShield's research process included crashing a large, purpose-built spacecraft into any dangerous asteroids to achieve the same effects as a nuclear strike, or using a "gravity tractor" (a spacecraft capable of generating a gravitational field) to alter the route of the rock.
The plans came to light after Russia announced upcoming plans for its space programme for 2025, which included plans to establish a new early warning centre to look for Near Earth Objects.
Here's hoping one of the proposals involves Bruce Willis and an Aerosmith soundtrack.
[Via: The Telegraph]