23 Long March 5 rockets could divert an asteroid from its path by nearly 9,000 kilometers.
The probability of an asteroid colliding with Earth is low but one, Bennu, has been targeted for investigation. The chance that Bennu will impact Earth is only 1-in-2700, but that risk is still enough to concern scientists due to the amount of destruction the asteroid could cause.
The Chinese plan would only need a decade’s warning to prepare for the mission.
The United States is planning a similar endeavour called HAMMER (Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response) which would send more material – 400 tonnes of rocket material – to Bennu.
It would also make the trip faster, only taking two years to reach the asteroid.
The U.S. plan is more expensive, and would take longer to prepare, but it would take more time to discover the asteroid, which would take 25 years to prepare.