While most astronomers seem to be understandably worried about the best way to steer asteroids away from Earth, Chinese scientists are instead trying to figure out how they can capture nearby asteroids into Earth orbit. And then mine them.
At first glance, nudging an asteroid closer to Earth seems like one of those “what could possible go wrong” scenarios that we generally try and avoid, and for good reason: large asteroid impacts are bad times. The Chinese, though, seem fairly optimistic that they could tweak the orbit of a near-Earth asteroid by just enough (a change in velocity of only about 1,300 feet-per-second or so) to get it to temporarily enter Earth orbit at about twice the distance as the Moon. The orbit would be unstable, and eventually (after a few years) the asteroid would head back out into space from whence it came, but it would stick there long enough for us to poke around on it.
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