Nasa astronauts
Astronauts at the Johnson Space Center in Houston are preparing for a mission to land on an asteroid like in Hollywood movie Armageddon Getty

Nasa astronauts have started training for a planned mission to land on an asteroid, in a project similar to the stroyline of Bruce Willis Hollywood blockbuster Armageddon.

Unlike in the 1998 sci-fi movie, which sees a team of oil drillers blast apart an asteroid that is hurtling towards Earth, the planet is not under any threat of a Doomsday scenario.

Instead, Nasa will study material collected from an asteroid in the hope it could contain information about the age of the solar system and how it was formed.

Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis starred in the movie Armageddon Getty

Nasa is trying to pick an asteroid that could be reached, captured and brought into an orbit around the moon for a mission to then travel on the Orion spacecraft to explore the asteroid and collect samples.

Astronauts are already training for the ambitious sounding project in the agency's Johnson Space Center swimming pool in Houston, even though the project is not mooted until the 2020s.

Stan Love, one of the astronauts participating in the tests, told CNN that training involved potential tools a crew would use on the mission.

He told the American broadcaster: "We're working on the techniques and tools we might use someday to explore a small asteroid that was captured from an orbit around the sun and brought back by a robotic spacecraft to orbit around the moon.

"When it's there, we can send people there to take samples and take a look at it up close. That's our main task; we're looking at tools we'd use for that, how we'd take those samples."

Nasa said the project would also "advance a number of technologies needed for longer-term plans: sending humans to Mars in the 2030s."