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Scientists will develop automatic space rovers to study Asteroids

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MOSCOW (Itar-Tass/ PTI): It is much more expedient to study asteroids that may endanger the Earth from automatic space rovers rather than from manned spaceships, Director of the Center for Earth Protection from Asteroids Anatoly Zaitsev has said.

He was asked to comment on the possible replica of the Armageddon movie plot by NASA and Lockheed Martin. The two want to send the Orion prospective spaceship to an asteroid.

"There are three reasons why flights to asteroids are necessary. First, that is research. Second, that is prevention of possible damaging effects on the Earth. Third, that is possible use of asteroids as a source of natural resources," he told Itar Tass.

"The number of asteroids more than 50 meters in size (the approximate size of the Tunguska meteorite) that are approaching the Earth nears 2 million. A detailed study of only one of them, even with a manned expedition, will not cause a breakthrough," he said.

"It is much more efficient and cheaper to send dozens of automatic space rovers to asteroids. Our center and the Russian Tsiolkovsky Space Exploration Academy have drafted a reconnaissance rover project. Such rovers may help protect the Earth from dangers posed by space," he said.

"I think it would be better to spend funds on the development of a system, which will guard us from asteroids.

We estimate investments needed for the deployment of the early warning system at 3-5 billion. Meanwhile, a manned expedition to an asteroid would cost tens of billions of dollars." Zaitsev said.

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