Gravity Tractor as Asteroid Mover

A huge spacecraft could use its gravity to keep an asteroid from hitting Earth.

By Emily Sohn, 00:00 AM November 10, 2005

Movie producers love the idea, partly because it's so scary and partly because it could actually happen. The setup is this: An asteroid is screaming toward Earth. A collision is inevitable. When the rocky object hits the planet, lots of people will die.

In the movies, a daring hero comes up with a crazy plan to destroy or divert the asteroid and save the day. In real life, scientists have come up with more reasonable plans that might actually work if this rare situation ever comes up.

A massive spacecraft could use its gravity to divert an asteroid headed for Earth.

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