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Russia reportedly planning asteroid deflection mission
Posted: Wed, Dec 30, 2009, 6:53 PM ET (2353 GMT)
The head of Russia's space agency raised eyebrows worldwide Wednesday when he claimed the agency was working on plans to deflect an asteroid that will pass close to, but likely not impact, the Earth. Anatoly Perminov, head of Roskosmos, told Russian media Wednesday the agency would soon take up a project to deflect the asteroid Apophis, which he claimed "will sure collide" with the Earth in 2036. The asteroid, though, has only a 1 in 233,000 chance of colliding with the Earth that year, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, with a chance of impact getting smaller as its orbit is refined. PErminov said that the US, Europe, and other nations would be welcome to join Russia in planning for the mission, but offered no additional details. Perminov plans to organize a closed-door meeting of Russian scientists early next month to discuss the mission. Outside experts are puzzled why Perminov would take a sudden interest in such a mission given the minute risk the asteroid poses.
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