Looks like NASA is taking a leaf out of the Hollywood blockbuster Armageddon.
The space agency is working with National Nuclear Security Administration, part of the US Department of Energy, to create viable ways to protect the earth from giant asteroids.
The newly formed partnership comes just ahead of Asteroid Day on June 30 -- a campaign that has attracted the likes of Queen guitarist Brian May, Bill Nye and Richard Dawkins.
Researchers will focus on nuclear power (among other options) as a way of destroying incoming giant rocks or blocks of ice before it has the opportunity to crash into earth.
Two years ago, a meteoroid (smaller than an asteroid) 60 feet wide, weighing 7,000 tons blew up over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, injuring more than 1,000 people.
Travelling at a speed of 19 kilometres per second, its mass was greater than the Eiffel Tower and the explosion released energy 20 to 30 times greater than the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
In comparison, the giant asteroid thought to have finished off the dinosaurs is believed to be as big as a city and it is these type of asteroids that the preemptive initiative will focus on.
Kevin Greenaugh, a senior official at the nuclear security agency told The New York Times:
“It’s a big step forward.
“Whenever you have multiple agencies coming together for the common defense, that’s news.”