SUMMARY: Asteroids don't hit the Earth often, but when they do, the results can be catastrophic. The European Space Agency is working on several approaches to minimize the chances we'll make a close encounter with an asteroid. A new mission, called Don Quijote, will launch in 2011 and slam an impactor probe into an asteroid to see what happens. An orbiter spacecraft will remain in orbit around the asteroid and continue to study the aftereffects of the impact. There are now three European teams working on preliminary studies for the potential mission.
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