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ESA prepares mission to divert asteroid speeding towards Earth

99942 Apophis is not the first “potentially hazardous object” heading towards our planet. In fact, Earth has been subject to threats from asteroids which are also blamed for mass extinctions.

A giant asteroid is hurtling towards our planet and scientists are gearing up to launch mission to avert its disastrous collision with Earth.

Reminiscent of the scene from a Hollywood movie, 'Armageddon,' the European Space Agency (ESA) is preparing a space mission to blast asteroid speeding towards Earth.

According to scientists, an asteroid named 99942 Apophis, approximately the size of two-and-a-half football fields, could hit the Earth in 2030s.

In 2004, the astronomers had predicted its collision with Earth in 2009, but later NASA recalculated its path and said it could hit planet in 2036.

Mission 'Don Quijote' to thwart menace
Though there are around 20 years to go before the asteroid nears Earth and poses any serious threat, scientists do not intend to sit idle.

To prevent the possible impending doom, ESA is planning a test to see if they can alter the course of space rock heading towards Earth.

The mission, dubbed Don Quijote, involves deploying two spacecrafts in 2015 to knock the asteroid off its path.

One spacecraft, impactor, will be fired into the space rock and the other, an orbitor, will scan collision examine other data from the test.

When ESA launches it mission, there will be many fingers crossed as space rock as huge as the huge asteroid 99942 Apophis is capable of wrecking havoc on Earth.

About 99942 Apophis
Discovered in 2004, 99942 Apophis is a near-Earth asteroid.

Though the 210-330 meter (690-1080 foot) diameter space rock has just four-in-a million possibility of hitting Earth, it is a 'potentially hazardous' asteroid

In 2004, the astronomers had predicted its collision with Earth in 2009, but later NASA recalculated its path and said it could hit planet in 2036.

99942 Apophis is not the first “potentially hazardous object” headed for our planet. In fact, Earth has been subject to threats from asteroids which are also blamed for mass extinctions.

For instance, it is believed that a massive asteroid struck Earth 65 million years ago, leading to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Besides, many a times Earth has narrowly missed collision with asteroids. Recently in June, a space rock, named ‘2011 MD,' as large as a school bus skimmed past Earth.

Now a huge asteroid, around 400 meters in diameter, is expected to pass by Earth on Nov. 8 this year.