Les politiques de la catastrophe cosmique

WASHINGTON – Le monde va devoir prendre une décision importante en 2010. Anatoly Perminov, responsable de l’Agence spatiale russe Roscosmos, propose d’envoyer une mission inhabitée pour détourner un gros astéroïde qui pourrait entrer en collision avec la Terre après 2030.

Avec un diamètre de plus de 360 mètres, l’astéroïde Apophis est douze fois plus gros que l’objet céleste Tunguska (dont on pense que c’était un météorite ou une comète) qui ravageât une grande part de l’est Sibérien il y a un siècle. Les recherches ont permis de déterminer que l’objet a éclaté le 30 juin 1908 avec une force équivalente à celle d’une arme nucléaire, déracinant quelques 80 millions d’arbres sur une zone de plus de 2 000 kilomètres carrés.

Selon la NASA, si Apophis entrait en collision avec la terre, le choc pourrait relâcher 100 000 fois plus d’énergie que l’épisode Tunguska. Des milliers de kilomètres carrés pourraient non seulement disparaître en poussière mais la Terre entière souffrirait de la perte de la lumière solaire et des autres effets résultants de la poussière qui serait alors libérée dans l’atmosphère. Ce risque explique pourquoi un analyste russe a appelé Apophis un «  terroriste céleste . »

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