Η NASA ετοιμάζεται για καταστροφικό χτύπημα αστεροειδή – “Η Γη παραμένει ευάλωτη”

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Η ανθρωπότητα παραμένει ευάλωτη μπροστά στην πιθανότητα ο πλανήτης μας να κτυπηθεί από έναν μεγάλο αστεροειδή που μπορεί να φέρει ολοκληρωτική καταστροφή, σύμφωνα με τον ανώτερο επιστημονικό σύμβουλο του Προέδρου των ΗΠΑ, Τζον Χόλντρεν, ο οποίος ωστόσο ανέφερε ότι η ΝΑΣΑ προετοιμάζεται για αποτροπή τέτοιου ενδεχομένου.

Στο ηλιακό μας σύστημα εκτιμάται ότι υπάρχουν εκατομμύρια αστεροειδείς σε τροχιά γύρω από τον Ηλιο.

Ανάλογα με το μέγεθός τους μοιάζουν με μεγάλους βράχους ή με μικρούς πλανήτες. Αυτά τα κατάλοιπα από το σχηματισμό του ηλιακού μας συστήματος, έχουν μέγεθος από λίγες δεκάδες μέτρα μέχρι εκατοντάδες χιλιόμετρα και σχήμα ακανόνιστο, σχεδόν σφαιρικό.

Αν και οι μικροί αστεροειδείς μπορούν να προκαλέσουν καταστροφές και θύματα σε τοπικό επίπεδο, οι ειδικοί στη ΝΑΣΑ θεωρούν ότι πρέπει να έχουν πλάτος τουλάχιστον ενός χιλιομέτρου για να θεωρούνται απειλητικοί για τον ανθρώπινο πολιτισμό.

Οι επικίνδυνοι αστεροειδείς

Οι επιστήμονες της ΝΑΣΑ εκτιμούν ότι έχουν εντοπίσει τουλάχιστον το 90% αυτών των επικίνδυνων αστεροειδών και καθησυχάζουν ότι κανένας δεν αποτελεί απειλή για την ανθρωπότητα τουλάχιστον στο προσεχές διάστημα.

Αν κάποιος αστεροειδής κτυπούσε τη Γη οι συνέπειες θα ήταν καταστροφικές. Ανάλογα με το μέγεθός του, θα μπορούσε να προκαλέσει μέχρι και την καταστροφή του πολιτισμού μας ή του ίδιου του πλανήτη μας.

Από την γένεση της Γης, πριν 4,5 δισεκατομμύρια χρόνια, ο πλανήτης μας έχει πληγεί πολλές φορές από αστεροειδείς των οποίων οι τροχιές τους οδήγησαν στο εσωτερικό του ηλιακού συστήματος. Για τους ειδικούς, δεν υπάρχει καμία αμφιβολία ότι κάποια στιγμή στο μέλλον η Γη θα κτυπηθεί ξανά, αλλά το ερώτημα είναι πότε θα πραγματοποιηθεί αυτή η κοσμική σύγκρουση.

Δεν είμαστε πλήρως προετοιμασμένοι…

Ο σύμβουλος του Μπαράκ Ομπάμα σε επιστημονικά και τεχνολογικά θέματα είπε ότι πρέπει να λάβουμε σοβαρά υπόψη μας την απειλή από το διάστημα εξ’ού, ανέφερε, η ΝΑΣΑ προετοιμάζεται για κάθε ενδεχόμενο.

“Δεν είμαστε πλήρως προετοιμασμένοι αλλά βρισκόμαστε στη σωστή πορεία” ανέφερε ο Χόλντρεν στη διάρκεια συζήτησης στη ΝΑΣΑ σχετικά με την μελλοντική αποστολή της αμερικανικής υπηρεσίας διαστήματος σε αστεροειδή.

Ο επιστημονικός σύμβουλος του αμερικανού Προέδρου υπενθύμισε ότι τον Φεβρουάριο του 2013 σημειώθηκε έκρηξη μετεωρίτη στο Chelyabinsk της Ρωσίας, η οποία είχε ως αποτέλεσμα τον τραυματισμό 1,200 ατόμων. Ο μετεωρίτης εκείνος, είπε, είχε πλάτος 20 μέτρα. Επίσης, αναφέρθηκε στο 1908 όταν μετεωρίτης στην περιοχή Tunguska της Ρωσίας, με πλάτος 40 μέτρα, εξερράγη πάνω σε ακατοίκητη περιοχή στη Σιβηρία καταστρέφοντας έκταση 2,070 τετραγωνικών χιλιομέτρων σε δάσος. Πιστεύεται ακόμα ότι οι δεινόσαυροι αφανίστηκαν πριν 65 εκατ. χρόνια λόγω πρόσκρουσης αστεροειδούς.

Αν και το περιστατικό στην Chelyabinsk συμβαίνει μια φορά κάθε 100 χρόνια ενώ στη Σιβηρία κάθε 1,000 χρόνια, ο Χόλντρεν προειδοποίησε ότι πρέπει να προετοιμαστούμε. “Πρέπει να φανούμε πιο έξυπνοι από τους δεινόσαυρους” είπε.

Σημειώνεται ότι το 1991, το Αμερικανικό Κογκρέσο ζήτησε από την ΝΑΣΑ να διοργανώσει επιστημονικά εργαστήρια προκειμένου να συζητηθεί ο κίνδυνος αυτός, αλλά και τρόποι αντιμετώπισής τους.

Το 1994 ζητήθηκε από την ΝΑΣΑ να συνεργαστεί με άλλες υπηρεσίες διαστήματος προκειμένου να εντοπιστούν και να κατηγοριοποιηθούν μέσα σε δέκα χρόνια οι τροχιές των αστεροειδών οι οποίοι είναι μεγαλύτεροι του ενός χιλιομέτρου και έχουν τροχιά κοντινή προς την Γη.

Το 2005 οι Αμερικανοί Γερουσιαστές ζήτησαν από την ΝΑΣΑ να εντοπίσει τουλάχιστον το 90% των αστρικών αντικειμένων με μέγεθος μεγαλύτερο των 140 μέτρων σε διάμετρο μέχρι το 2020.

Μέσα σε αυτά τα χρόνια, ανακαλύφθηκαν εκατοντάδες χιλιάδες αστεροειδείς, οι πλείστοι όμως δεν συνιστούν κίνδυνο για την ανθρωπότητα.

Εξάλλου, η ΝΑΣΑ έχει ήδη προχωρήσει σημαντικά στο πρόγραμμα με την ονομασία Αποστολή Ανακατεύθυνσης Αστεροειδούς Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) που θέτει τις βάσεις για αποτροπή μιας σύγκρουσης με έναν αστεροειδή αλλά θεωρείται και άκρως σημαντική για την πρώτη επανδρωμένη αποστολή στον Αρη το 2030.

Η αποστολή ARM, που θα ξεκινήσει το 2021, με κόστος πέραν του ενός δισεκατομμυρίου δολαρίων, “θα βοηθήσει τους ερευνητές να μάθουν περισσότερα για τους αστεροειδείς, να δοκιμάσουν τις δυνατότητες των τεχνολογιών που είναι απαραίτητες για μια αποστολή στον Αρη, το 2030, καθώς και τις ενέργειες που θα είναι απαραίτητες για την εκτροπή ενός δυνητικά επικίνδυνου αστεροειδή κάποτε στο μέλλον”, είπε ο Χόλντρεν.

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