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The question: Earth-bound asteroids

The Government is looking for ways to knock asteroids heading our way off course. Nuclear weapons are its first thought, but is that the only option?

A fully automated ship should be stationed at the new space station.

When the asteroid comes within range the ship flies to the asteroid, lands on it (a la Han Solo). It then deploys or uses its own engine to divert the asteroid safely out of the way.

Kevin Anderson, 26, assistant engineer, Glasgow

The technology already exists to make an asteriod shoot off in the opposite direction. Simply get NASA to make an astronaut sit under a blanket in the open cargo bay of the space shuttle and shout: 'Get your Big Issue here'. This technique seems to work on a slightly smaller scale at most entrances to the London Underground.

John Dyer, 33, rail engineer, Kent

The Millennium Dome could be put into space with booster rockets, so it could be used as a giant catcher's mitt or a deflector.

Michael Woods, 35, consultant, Edinburgh

I would re-locate the Millenium Dome on the asteroid, confident that all the 'hot air' generated on the surface would steer it off course.

Simon Barton, 35, senior engineer, South Wales

How about a giant air bag to break the fall of the asteroid. The air blown out could then go through turbines and help power the world.

Ben Hughes, 25, project engineer, Leeds

I think we should put a big net up between the Earth and the Moon.

We can add a solar deflector to harness the energy from the Sun's rays so we would not have to worry about fuel crises any more and the net would catapult the asteroids back into space.

David Frankl, 49, consultant, Bucks

We should be getting out into space towards the asteroid belt, where we can set up a decent long range detection system. The sooner an asteroid is intercepted, and motors installed on it, the less power needed to deflect it.

Establish moon manufacturing facilities, then build with local materials and get to Mars and points further out.

Mike Dommett, 43, sub agent, Kent

There are two principal options: diverting the course of the asteroid or diverting the course of the Earth. Clearly fragmenting the asteroid with a nuclear bomb is the only practical method. Not very friendly to the space environment though. No, the only sensible option is to divert the course of the Earth. Just think, if we moved it a couple of million miles away from the Sun we would avoid a potential collision and may solve global warming to boot! Naturally, the Moon would have to come too.

Philip Howden, 37, partner, Lancaster

I would suggest a massive, solar powered electro-magnet. This would be put into orbit around the moon and aimed at the offending asteroids, turning them away.

Getting the polarity right is particularily crucial to avoid masses of cheese on face but rather a blue moon than Bruce Willis telling us the US saved us all again.

Rogan Keown, 34, engineer, Colchester

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