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European Union plans to play 'asteroid billiards' in new space programme

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By John Paul Ging
European Union plans to play 'asteroid billiards' in new space programme

Scientists and politicians have been holding a conference in the Belgian capital to plan a new space mission programme for the EU's space agency.

One example of the research being planned is how to protect our civilisation from asteroids potentially on a collision course with Earth.

Interviewed by Euronews at the conference, Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA) said:

“Together with the Americans, with NASA we are looking for a project that should try to play billiard in space, hitting a small asteroid to see how we can deflect an asteroid which is running towards the Earth”.

Another major area of research is climate change. This represents a big challenge for the future, with extreme weather events not only linked to natural disasters, but also increasingly to human migration. European satellite fleets will aim to monitor the evolution of those phenomena.

Josef Aschbacher, Director of Earth Observation at the ESA:

“We try to predict trends with models and data ... to see where the problem areas will occur because of climate change and what it will mean for politics and people in general.”

There is currently a great disparity between the perception of the cost of space programmes by Europeans; a recent survey showed Europeans estimate this cost is €245 per year per citizen, while the actual cost is just 10 euros each.

Journalist • John Paul Ging

Video editor • John Paul Ging