DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Asteroid gravitational tractor. Artwork of a gravitational tractor hovering over an asteroid. The gravitational attraction between the large spacecraft and the asteroid would slowly pull the asteroid on to a different trajectory. The method is slow, but not affected by asteroid composition or spin rate. Asteroids are minor planets with diameters of less than 100 kilometres. A collision with Earth would cause massive tsunamis if it hit the oceans and block sunlight due to the huge quantities of dust thrown in to the stratosphere. It is thought that the extinction of the dinosaurs around 65 million years ago was caused by an asteroid impact. An asteroid, comet or other large body posing a danger to Earth is known as a Near- Earth Object (NEO).
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