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  Spaceprobe being built to knock-out asteroids
Updated 12 August 2002, 11.08
The asteroid would be knocked out of space a bit like a billiard ball
It may sound like a script from a movie but scientists are developing a special spacecraft that could stop a rogue asteroid from hitting Earth.

  Click here for more on space

But unlike the heroes in the hit movie Armageddon, no-one will be flown onto an asteroid to split it in two using nuclear weapons.

A bit like playing snooker

Instead, the plan is to knock the asteroid off its potential collision course by nudging it out of orbit - a bit like playing snooker!

The plan which is being developed by the Spanish company Deimos-Space is called Don Quixote, and involves two probe spacecraft - Hidalgo and Sancho.

Fact File
Facts about asteroids
Made from rock or metal
Scattered throughout solar system
Can be over 900 kms in diameter!
Mostly found near Mars and Jupiter
Also known as minor planets

Hidalgo would be launched to hit the asteroid and throw it off its course, while Sancho would observe and record what happens after impact.

Even just a small nudge deep in space, could send an asteroid miles off its original course.

Deimos hope to be able to test their theory on an asteroid deep in space after 2003.

This way they hope to be ready should any real threat ever occur.

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Asteroid will miss Earth in 2019
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