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Review Article
Nature 360, 429 - 433 (03 December 1992); doi:10.1038/360429a0

Deflection and fragmentation of near-Earth asteroids

Thomas J. Ahrens & Alan W. Harris

Lindhurst Laboratory of Experimental Geophysics, Seismological Laboratory 252-21, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, California 91109, USA.

The collision with Earth of near-Earth asteroids or comet nuclei poses a potential threat to mankind. Objects about 100 m in diameter could be diverted from an Earth-crossing trajectory by the impact of a rocket-launched mass, but for larger bodies nuclear explosions seem to be the only practical means of deflection. Fragmentation of the body by nuclear charges is less efficient or secure.

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