A government-funded study from China has found that using 23 of the country’s Long March 5 rockets (the largest in its fleet) to simultaneously hit a large asteroid would cause it to deflect by a distance of 1.4 times the Earth’s radius, saving the planet from a catastrophic disaster. Now, China would like to test this idea in real life, although the details are not available at this point.

Zoom Out: Asteroids vary in size. The largest asteroid in the asteroid belt is Vesta measuring 329 miles (530 km) in diameter, while the smallest ones are less than 33 feet (10 meters) across. There are currently 1,102,931 known asteroids in our Solar system, totaling a mass less than that of the moon. A kilometer-wide asteroid strikes the Earth on average once every 600,000 years. Such an impact would cause global destruction, but even a 500-meter asteroid, which hits the Earth once every 10,000 years, can kill millions. Therefore, this type of research is vital to preventing existential threats to humanity.

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