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Bid to zap asteroids heading for earth.

WORRIED ministers are spending more than pounds 1.6million to find ways to stop asteroids destroying the Earth.

It follows recent concern that a mile-long asteroid called 1997 XF11 was heading for the planet.

The Government fears a real-life version of Steven Spielberg's film Deep Impact, released here this month. The movie shows America gripped with panic as an asteroid hurtles to Earth.

Most of the pounds 1.6million will help pay for a European Space Agency survey craft to land on a comet called Wirtanen.

Scientists believe that may give clues on how to destroy an asteroid. They will also monitor thousands of objects swirling round the solar system.

The British National Space Centre said: "The risk is small but an asteroid could cause big damage, even climate change."

He said scientists had ruled out zapping them with nuclear weapons.

"That would probably cause more problems than being hit by an asteroid."

Industry Minister John Battle recently admitted: "We do not currently have the technology to deflect a sizeable asteroid."

A FOUR-pound meteorite crashed onto the roof of retired insurance manager David Lee, 57, at his home in Hove, near Brighton.
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 4, 1998
Words:192
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