Major Tim Peake, a British astronaut is part of a NASA team due to fly to investigate one of the cosmic rocks by the mid-2020s.
If an asteroid is found to be on collision course with Earth, Peake and his three Extreme Environment Missions Operations comrades could be flown to deflect it, The Sun reported.
"Earth has close calls all the time. In February one 45 metres wide got so close it was nearer than the satellites which provide our TV signal. And last November one 360 metres in diameter came between us and the Moon," Major Peake, a 40-year-old former Army Air Corps officer, said. "The work we are doing is without a doubt going to help prevent a catastrophic collision with one of them," Paeke was quoted by the paper as saying.
The team spent 12 days simulating weightless conditions in a deep sea research station off Florida.
Their prime aim is to travel to an asteroid in a shuttle, then spend up to 30 days skimming it on a smaller craft so they can grab samples from it and place sensors ( via business-standard.com ).