EDUCATION: Earth in the Bull's-Eye

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Science  03 Jan 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5603, pp. 25
DOI: 10.1126/science.299.5603.25a

The solar system is a tough neighborhood, prowled by comets, asteroids, and other space clods that someday might belt the Earth. Learn about the different kinds of near-Earth objects and the risk they pose at this new Web site from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Flash animations let you sidle up to tumbling asteroids or watch comet Shoemaker-Levy plunk into Jupiter's atmosphere in 1994. Geared for students and the public, the site also visits earthly scars such as the Chicxulub crater in Mexico, where an asteroid landed 65 million years ago that may have snuffed out the dinosaurs. Although catastrophic impacts happen only every few million years, if a killer asteroid does hove into view, one possible scenario is to land a large rocket engine on the rogue rock to nudge it off course.

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