How scientists plan to stop deadly asteroids

OSIRIS-REx (Reuters)
OSIRIS-REx (Reuters)

Perched atop a NASA rocket launched Friday morning was a probe headed to an asteroid.

After several years of manoeuvring, including a slingshot move around the Earth, OSIRIS-REx will arrive at the asteroid Bennu in September of 2019

Once there, it'll collect traces of the materials that built the sun and early planets, then bring them back to Earth.

Of course, not all space rocks are science labs. Some, like 2013's Chelyabinsk meteor, are more like bombs.

Outside our atmosphere, it's a cosmic shooting gallery and our planet is suspended in the firing line.

Since 1998, NASA scientists tracking Near Earth Objects, or NEOs, have found more than 10,000 of them. They believe there are 10 times that many we don't yet know about.

However, they've come up with plans to fight them off:

The latter method may be most effective, however it could instead turn one big problem into many slightly smaller ones.