"Don Quixote" — a symbolic name given to the program of the European Space Agency (ESA) to study the possibility of changing the trajectory of the asteroid threatening collision with our planet, according to ITAR-TASS.
ESA considers the implementation of this program as its priority, the chairman of the commission ESA study of near-Earth objects, Alan Harris.
It is planned that the operation of "Don Quixote" to save the Earth from the threat of the "Space Wanderer" will be implemented with the help of two spacecraft — "Sancho" and "Hidalgo."
Upon detection of a cosmic body, the trajectory of which may pose a potential threat of collision with the Earth, the two spacecraft will be launched at the same time. Faster "Sancho" should be the first to reach the asteroid and conduct the necessary studies of its trajectory, velocity and other parameters. Then, the machine moves away to a safe distance, and works as a spotter when you hover on the purpose of his "shock" colleague "Hidalgo."
At higher speeds, "Hidalgo" cut into the asteroid, dismissing him from the dangerous path. Continuing to be near "Sancho" must then evaluate the new trajectory of the asteroid and transmit the information back to Earth. Depending on the results of the mission, the threat is declared eliminated or sent to a new interceptor "Hidalgo."
The "Don Quixote" in the implementation of which should involve many countries of the world can come into effect by the year 2010-2015, said the ESA.