CCNet 7/2003 -  27 January 2003

"The [NEO impact] programme ended with what's now become a stock
Horizon cliche: a beardy man saying it would be really, really
terrible and it could happen any day now. Horizon is still described as
BBC's "flagship" science series, a phrase which falsely implies an
accompanying fleet (Tomorrow's World recently turned turtle and will not be
salvaged). If it is a flagship, it badly needs some time in dry-dock."
--The Independent, 24 January 2003

"Astronomers first became aware of "1950 DA" 10 years ago, since
when "asteroids have become a top government priority". Have they really?
I wonder whose department they come under. Somehow - and I have a very
bad feeling about this - it's bound to be John Prescott's.
--The Sunday Telegraph, 26 January 2003

"The draft of the UK's new Space policy document entitled "The draft
UK Space Policy 2003 - 2006 and beyond" was unveiled yesterday. The key
words "asteroid" and "NEO" (Near Earth Object) do not appear anywhere in
the document, and "comets" are only mentioned in the context of Giotto
and Rosetta. There is no reference to the impact hazard at all. Glad to
see that the UK is still taking a "world lead" in NEO matters then!"
--Jay Tate, Spaceguard UK

    BBC Horizon, 23 January 2003

    The Independent, 24 January 2003

    The Sunday Telegraph, 26 January 2003

    Ron Baalke <>

    Paul Brekke <>

    Ron Baalke <>

    Ron Baalke <>


    Space Daily, 24 January 2003

     Jonathan Tate <]

(11) PRAVDA "KILLER ASTEROID" STORY (17 January 2003)
     Vadim A. Simonenko <>

     Michael Paine <>

     Oliver K. Manuel <>

     BBC News Online, 19 January 2003


>From BBC Horizon, 23 January 2003

The Earth is under constant bombardment. Each year, many fragments of debris
hit our planet. Fortunately for us, most are so small that they burn up
harmlessly in the atmosphere.

The scarred surface of the Moon tells us it has been hit many times

However, there are hundreds of larger asteroids orbiting near the Earth.
Many scientists now believe that one of these hit the Earth 65 million years
ago, killing the dinosaurs, along with 90% of all life on the planet. What
is more, it is only a matter of time before the Earth is hit again.

Experts warn that nuclear weapons might not destroy an approaching asteroid.
But Jay Meloch thinks he can use the power of the Sun to nudge an asteroid
away from the Earth.

A violent Solar System

Until recently, no one took the asteroid threat very seriously. Yet the
evidence that we are in danger is on our own doorstep. We need only look at
the cratered surface of the Moon to realise that it has been pounded by
impacts throughout its history.

Why then, if collisions were common, was the surface of the Earth not
scarred in a similar way? Unlike the Moon, the geography of the Earth is
constantly changing, as continents move, and the landscape is constantly
reforming. However, scientists realised that many features they had once
dismissed as extinct volcanoes could in fact have been made by asteroid

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hits Jupiter

Then in 1994, something happened which brought home how immediate the danger
is. Astronomers realised that comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 was heading straight
for the planet Jupiter. The spectacular - and violent - impact created an
explosion the size of planet Earth, and was the first time a collision
between two astronomical bodies had been observed. If Jupiter had been hit,
then the Earth could be next.

Mapping the asteroids

Over 90% of the asteroids in the Solar System lie in a belt between Mars and
Jupiter. Most of these are in stable orbits around the Sun, and will never
come anywhere near the Earth. However, collisions between asteroids, or the
effects of Jupiter's large gravitational field can sometimes deflect
asteroids off course, and send them into the inner Solar System.

NASA has been conducting a survey of near Earth objects, and we now know of
many asteroids whose orbits cross our own. So far, no imminent collisions
are predicted; astronomers are though keeping a close eye on a rock they
call 1950 DA, which will either hit, or pass very close to the Earth, in

However, there is a long way to go before we have found all the asteroids
that are a potential threat. We still don't know for certain that an
asteroid will not hit in the near future.

Will nuclear weapons save the Earth?

The most obvious strategy to protect the Earth against an asteroid might
seem to be to try to destroy it with nuclear weapons. This plan has two
fundamental problems. Firstly, you would have to attach a bomb larger than
any yet created, to a very powerful rocket. This might be nearly as
dangerous as the asteroid you were trying to destroy.

More importantly however, a nuclear blast might not destroy a large asteroid
completely, but merely split it into chunks. Instead of one large impact,
you might end up with several smaller ones, which would end up doing nearly
as much damage.

Could we use nuclear weapons in a 'gentle' way?

If we cannot destroy an approaching asteroid, then the only other tactic
would be to try to nudge it forward just enough to make it miss the Earth -
like stepping on the accelerator of a car to make it miss a train at a level
crossing. If we had enough warning, then only a very small deflection might
be enough.

Rather than firing a nuclear weapon directly at an asteroid, could we
explode it nearby so that the blast gives the asteroid the nudge it needed
to miss the Earth? For a while, scientists thought they had found a
solution. But then some surprising results forced them to think again.

Asteroids like sponges

Three years ago, the residents of Tagish Lake in northern Canada witnessed a
bright explosion in the sky, as an asteroid burned up in the atmosphere
above them. Jim Brook was lucky enough to find debris from the impact. The
first thing he noticed was that it was far lighter than he expected it would
be. Like a sponge, the chunks of debris were mostly air.

Dan Durdan makes his living by firing ball bearings at asteroid samples -
meteorites - to study what happens when they are hit. When he tested samples
similar to the Tagish Lake meteorite, he was surprised to see that, rather
than shattering or being deflected, these less dense asteroids simply
absorbed the impact of the blast.

These results were worrying. This could mean that many asteroids would not
be deflected by a nuclear blast. Trying to deflect an asteroid with a blast
might have no effect, and would keep it coming on its deadly trajectory.

What can a spinning asteroid tell us?

The question now facing scientists was: how many asteroids near Earth are
like the Tagish Lake samples? The only way we can know for sure what an
asteroid is made of is by landing on it. But could there be a clue in the
way the asteroids behave?

Most asteroids spin around as they travel through space. Some spin slowly,
and others quickly. But if an asteroid is spinning too quickly, there is a
danger that it will tear itself apart if the material from which it is made
is not strong enough. By surveying the spin of asteroids near the Earth,
scientists can make a very rough estimate of how dense the asteroids are.

There was good news and bad news. Asteroid 1950 DA was spinning quickly, and
so is likely to be fairly dense - and could potentially be deflected with a
nuclear device. But the majority of asteroids surveyed were slow spinners.
Clearly, scientists were going to have to come up with another solution if
they wanted to protect the Earth.

The power of the Sun

Jay Meloch has suggested a radical new way of dealing with a dangerous
asteroid. He wanted a surer, more controlled way of diverting a large body -
with a gentle push instead of a blast. His idea was to find a way of
harnessing the biggest power source in the Solar System - the Sun.

In the same way as you can use a magnifying glass to set fire to a sheet of
paper, you could focus the Sun's rays onto a point on the surface on an
asteroid. The spot where the Sun's rays met would heat up, blasting
particles of the asteroid into space. This would act like a rocket engine,
and might be enough nudge the asteroid out of harm's way.

The scientific community ridiculed his suggestion - until Meloch received a
phone call from someone who took his idea very seriously. The US military
already uses collectors like Meloch's to gather radio waves. Meloch may well
have come up with a suggestion that will one day save the Earth.


Copyright 2003, BBC


>From The Independent, 24 January 2003

A few years ago, the gloomier prognosticators within the BBC's factual
programming strands were predicting catastrophe. The corporation was
vulnerable, they insisted, and if action wasn't taken, it would be the end
of the world as they knew it. But they couldn't get anyone to listen. The
powers that be said they were exaggerating, and even some of their
colleagues scoffed. So the BBC went ahead and signed a co-production deal
with the Discovery Channel and the asteroid of mediocrity hit, with - as
they like to say in the sort of science programmes they now make - the force
of a thousand nuclear bombs.

A little over the top, I grant you. I realise that there are a whole lot of
viewers out there who haven't even noticed the impact, as well as a whole
bunch more who think it was a thoroughly good thing. But it's unquestionable
that the deal has had an effect on biodiversity. If you doubt it, take a
cross-section through the latest season of Horizon programmes, which have so
far included no less than three armageddon programmes (tsunami, killer
volcanoes and, last night, asteroids), two lost civilization programmes
(Easter Island and El Dorado), and sundries on narcolepsy and homeopathy. In
other words, a classic Discovery cocktail of small boy sensation. See that
fine layer of ash dating from the mid- Nineties? It marks the beginning of a
mass-extinction of intellectual ambition. Where the presiding spirits of
Horizon used to be Watson and Dennett and Feynman, these days it's more like
Von Daniken and Jerry Bruckheimer.

In fact, last night's programme was eerily reminiscent of last Saturday's
BBC1 broadcast of the film Armageddon (produced by Bruckheimer), though it
was marginally more instructive about the science involved. Where the movie
had Bruce Willis, wisecracking his way to noble self-sacrifice, the
documentary offered Bill Paterson at his most silkily ominous, delivering
the script like a kirk elder who thinks the congregation have been getting a
bit complacent. The intellectual approach was the torturer's classic
technique of alternating pain with momentary relief. "Is 1950DA the most
dangerous rock in space?", Paterson asked, as you were shown a menacing
image of the kilometre-wide chunk of rock that has us in its appointments
diary. Then they revealed that it can't manage a meeting until AD2880 -
which might well be a "blink of a cosmic eye" away, but still falls
comfortably outside most viewers' anxiety lead-time.

But don't relax yet, because there are hundreds of smaller rocks that could
be just as deadly and blowing them up with nuclear bombs won't work. On the
other hand, as long as we spot them early enough, we could nudge them out of
the way with explosions. Then again, that only works if they're solid rock -
and a recent near miss in Canada revealed that a lot of asteroids are more
like pumice. Start panicking again - and now stop, because another scientist
(Professor Jay Melosh, left) has worked out a way to use a giant magnifying
glass to propel spongy asteroids out of our path. Phew! But no - that
wouldn't work on comets heading straight for us! Argghhh... Mum!

The programme ended with what's now become a stock Horizon cliche: a beardy
man saying it would be really, really terrible and it could happen any day
now. Next week - a film about the science of the dirty bomb, which I'm
willing to bet will end with the same kind of resonant clang of imminent
disaster. Horizon is still described as BBC's "flagship" science series, a
phrase which falsely implies an accompanying fleet (Tomorrow's World
recently turned turtle and will not be salvaged). If it is a flagship, it
badly needs some time in dry-dock.

Copyright 2003, The Independent


>From The Sunday Telegraph, 26 January 2003

Eager to impart some immediate uplift to your day, I shall begin this
morning by tackling the subject of Armageddon. We're all doomed. Some of us
- either through gross moral turpitude or helpless oldsterism - are going to
fry sooner than others. At least, so I always thought. But now it turns out
that we are all going to disappear in a shower of sparks much earlier than

Sorry about this. Horizon: Averting Armageddon (Thursday, BBC2) was not -
mercifully - about Iraq, but that's as comforting as it gets. It was about
meteorites instead. Apparently there are some really big ones heading this
way, all with our names engraved on them.

In a dazed voice a man called Randy described seeing a great fireball
whizzing through the sky. "An incredible white light illuminated the inside
of my truck," he said. "And this, ur, stuff was falling out of the sky."
What Randy had seen was a small asteroid, a kind of cosmic warm-up rock for
the main attraction - a very big fellow indeed called "1950 DA".

Astronomers first became aware of "1950 DA" 10 years ago, since when
"asteroids have become a top government priority". Have they really? I
wonder whose department they come under. Somehow - and I have a very bad
feeling about this - it's bound to be John Prescott's. Our only hope of
avoiding annihilation, it seems, is to launch an incredibly large object of
our own at the meteorite, with vast explosive capabilities.

Presumably this is where Prescott will come into his own,
uncharacteristically cast in the Daniel rather than Goliath role. But sadly,
it's not as simple as that: everything depends on detonating Big John at
precisely the right moment, so as to deflect "1950 DA" from its course. Get
it wrong and he will just hurtle uselessly through time and space for ever
and ever.

By now I was in almost as bad a shape as poor Randy, my eyes swivelling
anxiously towards the night sky. But after carefully fraying our nerves for
as long as they dared - there was a full complement of fatalists tumbling
over themselves in their keenness to spell out our imminent demise - the
programme makers finally came clean and admitted that "1950 DA" isn't due to
hit until 2880. Hold on, that's 877 years away.

We're living under a dark enough cloud at the moment. If 2880 does ever roll
around, I will have just become eligible for my bus pass and probably won't
be that fussed by the idea of a vast lump of molten metal heading for my
retirement condo. Alarm over then. Back to toast and marmalade everybody;
there's still plenty to live for.


>From Ron Baalke <>

Earth Institute at Columbia University
January 17, 2003

Mary Tobin

Columbia University Research Finds Correlation Between Meteorite and Comet
Impacts and an Increase in Volcanic Activity Development

10 Major Episodes of Extraterrestrial Impacts Found to Correlate with 9
Major Episodes of Volcanism

Supporting the theory that catastrophic events significantly influence major
Earth processes, researchers have determined that comet and meteorite
impacts on Earth occurring over the last 4 billion years have directly correlated with
the activity of strong and normal mantle plumes - heated mantle rock causing
volcanic eruptions (e.g. Hawaii, Iceland).

Dr. Dallas Abbott, of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Institute, and Ann Isley, of
SUNY Oswego, assembled an expanded database of terrestrial impacts over the last
4 billion years. They used clues from known craters such as impact spherules
created from impact melt, and from impact breccias that are created from shattered
debris fused under high temperatures and pressures. They also examined the activity
of normal and strong mantle plumes over geological time. Time series derived
from this data showed that 10 major peaks in terrestrial impact activity were
seen on Earth over this time period. Nine out of 10 of these impact peaks are
directly matched by peaks in normal to strong mantle plume volcanism. In addition,
there are two prominent lulls in impact activity, also corresponding to periods of
lower activity of mantle plume volcanism.

The biggest mystery remaining is the mechanism by which large impacts might
intensify volcanism. Abbott and Isley propose three possibilities: impacts may cause
cracking and de-stressing of the crust, allowing melts that had been trapped due to
tectonic stress and/or impermeable boundaries to rise more easily to the surface;
impacts may produce large cracks in the surface of the Earth allowing new plate
boundaries to form with consequent thinner lithosphere and longer melt columns; or impacts may
produce microdikes at the core mantle boundary, which, if very thin, would allow
molten core and mantle material to mix, increasing the amount of heat available for
melting the mantle and producing a rapid intensification of existing mantle plumes.

Another question raised by the correlation between impacts and volcanism
concerns widely adopted theories that meteorite and comet impacts were the cause of
mass extinctions of life on Earth. Was it the impact alone or could major
episodes of mantle plume volcanism have contributed to these extinctions?

Dallas Abbott is an adjunct research scientist at The Lamont-Doherty Earth
Observatory. Her primary research focus is the thermal history of the earth,
and the manner in which heat transport through the crust and upper mantle
influences geological processes, both ancient and present-day.

Abbott and Isley"s research paper, "Extraterrestrial Influences on Mantle
Plume Activity," is appearing in Earth and Planetary Science Letters this month.

The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a research unit of the Earth
Institute, is one of the world"s leading research centers examining the planet from its
core to its atmosphere, across every continent and every ocean. From global climate
change to earthquakes, volcanoes, environmental hazards and beyond, Observatory
scientists continue to provide the basic knowledge of Earth systems that must inform
the future health and habitability of our planet.

The Earth Institute at Columbia University is the world"s pioneer academic
center for mobilizing the sciences and public policy in pursuit of a sustainable
future, especially for the world's poor.  Its director is international economist
Jeffrey D. Sachs. More than 800 scientists with strength in Earth science, ecology,
health, social science or engineering are working together to reduce poverty,
hunger, disease and environmental degradation. The Institute brings their creative knowledge
to bear through teaching, research and outreach in dozens of countries around the
world. In all it does, the Earth Institute remains mindful of the staggering
disparities between rich and poor nations and the tremendous impact that global-scale problems
-- from the AIDS pandemic to climate change to extreme poverty in much of the developing
world -- will have on all nations.


>From Paul Brekke <>

Spectacular comet show in SOHO images:

Comet C/2002 X5 (Kudo-Fujikawa) is plunging toward the Sun and is just now visible
in the SOHO/LASCO images that are available on the Web. Everyone with an Internet
connection can follow this spectacular event from their living rooms.

The comet is clearly visible in the top part of the image:

On Jan. 29th, it will be only 0.19 AU from the Sun. The intense bright
light from our star will make it impossible to view the close encounter
from the Earth.  However, SOHO is able to block the Sun's glare using
onboard coronagraphs. Thus, everyone with an Internet connection can
follow the comet in the SOHO while it is approaching the Sun, passing it
and then moving out in space again. The comet will remain visible in the
SOHO/LASCO images until the end of the month.

How bright will the comet become? How big will its tail grow? Will the
comet break apart? No one knows. Keep an eye on our SOHO images here to
find out:

Here you will find the latest stills and the latest mpeg animations
showing the comet moving across the filed of view.

Artwork showing the comets path:

More information can also be found on:

Some ground based images of the comet:

Background about the comet:
On December 13th, Japanese astronomer T. Kudo discovered a new comet
cruising through the constellation Bootes. The comet was independently
discovered on December 14th by Shigehisa Fujikawa, also of Japan. Named
C/2002 X5 Kudo-Fujikawa, the comet is the 6th to carry the Fujikawa name.

Dr. Paal Brekke,
SOHO Deputy Project Scientist  (European Space Agency - ESA)

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,      Email:
Mail Code 682.3, Bld. 26,  Room 001,   Tel.:  1-301-286-6983 /301 996 9028
Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, USA.        Fax:   1-301-286-0264


>From Ron Baalke <>

QUE 93148: A Part of the Mantle of Asteroid 4 Vesta?
Planetary Science Research Discoveries
January 23, 2003

     --- A tiny meteorite tells a story of melting in the deep 
         mantle of a big asteroid.

Written by Christine Floss
Washington University in St. Louis

Meteorites recovered from Antarctica and other places on Earth are generally
first classified based on their mineralogies and textures. While this
approach works fairly well for large meteorites, it is quite a bit more
difficult to determine what group a meteorite belongs to when only a small
fragment is found. This is especially true when that fragment consists of
only one or two different coarse-grained minerals. Such was the case for QUE
93148 found in the Queen Alexandra Range, Antarctica in 1993. Although it
was originally classified as a lodranite, geochemical data soon showed that
it did not belong to this group. It currently appears that QUE 93148 is
related in some way to main group pallasites and may be a chip of the mantle
of the asteroid in which pallasites formed.


     Floss, Christine, (2002) Queen Alexandra Range 93148: a new type of
     pyroxene pallasite? Meteoritics and Planetary Science, v. 37, p.

Full story here:


>From Ron Baalke <>

>From The Observer, 26 January 2003,2763,882549,00.html

Robin McKie, science editor

Famed for the rocket-assisted cars that career across its vast terrain in
bids for land-speed records, Utah's salt flats now face a new environmental
threat: bowling balls from outer space.

In a milestone of scientific eccentricity, local astronomers have announced
that they want to simulate the behaviour of falling meteorites by dropping
bowling balls from aircraft - though the plan has gone down like a lead
spaceship with government officials.

Members of Salt Lake Astronomical Society, desperate for interplanetary
glory, dreamed up the idea after deciding to search Bonneville salt flats
for fallen meteorites. The aim was to find one in mint condition, just as
meteorites are found preserved on Antarctic ice sheets.

'Unfortunately, we found nothing - mainly because we didn't really know what
we were looking for. We actually don't know if meteorites will punch through
the salt crust, explode, or bounce off,' said society organiser Patrick

So the group decided to experiment - by dropping bowling balls from a great
height. 'Released high in the atmosphere, the balls would reach the same
velocity as a meteorite. Then we would discover if they bounced off, punched
through or exploded,' added Wiggins.

Members began searching for aircraft and a cooperative bowling alley until
the government's Bureau of Land Management heard of the plan. Officials were
not amused. The prospect of high speed bowling balls plunging into the
weather stations, geology researchers or racing car enthusiasts that
populate the salt flat was simply not acceptable, they announced. So the
plan has been put on ice until the society can convince them that it is
safe. Members of the society are now preparing a reportso that officials can
determine if the proposal can go ahead.

For their part, society members emphasise they are not eccentric. For a
start, they will not just limit themselves to bowling balls: they will also
drop putters' shots and rocks. As Wiggins said: 'Everyone likes to drop
things from planes.' Indeed, the society even considered dropping a real
meteorite to ensure realism, but realised it just might get lost.

'We're not stupid,' added Wiggins.

Copyright 2003, The Observer



Nancy Neal
NASA Headquarters, Washington            January 23, 2003
(Phone: 202-358-2369)

RELEASE: 03-017


NASA has authorized the John Hopkins University Applied
Physics Laboratory (APL), Laurel, Md., to proceed with the
implementation of the Geospace missions under NASA's
existing "Living with a Star" contract with APL. The Living
with a Star (LWS) program seeks to address how the
variability in the sun affects life on Earth as well as its
affect on space weather.

LWS sets out to quantify the physics, dynamics and behavior
of the Sun-Earth system over the 11-year solar cycle and
improve understanding of solar variability and disturbances
on terrestrial climate change. It will also provide data and
scientific understanding aimed at developing a predictive
capability for space weather affects. In addition, LWS will
give scientists a detailed characterization of radiation
environments useful in the design of more reliable
electronic components for air and space transportation

The two missions assigned to the APL make-up the LWS
Geospace Project. These missions were recently identified in
a study completed by the Geospace Mission Definition Team, a
group tasked by NASA Headquarters to identify LWS Geospace
Project goals and priorities. The two missions are the
Ionosphere-Thermosphere Mapper Mission (ITM) and the
Radiation Belt Mapper Mission (RBM).

The first of these, the ITM mission, will investigate the
physical processes that modify and change the Earth's thin
outer atmosphere, the region where the planet meets space.
The ITM will make measurements of the composition and
physical properties of the upper atmosphere between 53-620
miles altitude. Understanding this region of space above
Earth, and the sun's effects, will help us with the
operation of the International Space Station that operates
in this region. It is also a region that modifies the
signals of navigation satellites, such as the Global
Positioning System.

The Radiation Belt Mission will use two spacecraft in a near
equatorial elliptical orbit to take measurements in the
space above the ionosphere where the Earth's magnetic field
interacts with the magnetic field of the sun. The
interaction of these fields of wind provides an energy
source for the Earth's magnetosphere and drives a part of
the observed variation of the Earth's magnetic field. It is
in this region the processes of interaction of the fields of
the Earth and sun trap and energizes ions and electrons in
radiation belts. The dynamic changes of this region can have
important effects on civil and military communications
satellite systems.

The ITM and RBM are planned for launch in 2008 and 2010
respectively. The timing is such that the solar magnetic
activity cycle, operating with an 11-year period, will be at
or near a maximum during these missions. The program is
designed to use information at the extreme of this cycle to
lead to major advances in our understanding and ability to
predict space weather.

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in
Laurel, Md. is responsible for implementation of the
Geospace Project. Implementation includes the design and
development of the two spacecraft.

LWS is part of the Sun-Earth Connection theme within the
Office of Space Science at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. manages
the LWS program.

More information about the LWS program is available on the
Internet at:


>From Space Daily, 24 January 2003

PARIS (AFP) Jan 17, 2003

A top French space official on Friday singled out Europe's troubled Ariane
rocket programme for blunt criticism, saying it suffered from management
problems and blinkered thinking and needed the kick of inspiration.

The Ariane 5 rocket has been put on de-facto hold since a disastrous failure
last month and experts at the European Space Agency (ESA) and Arianespace,
which markets the launcher, are carrying out a thorough review to see what
went wrong.

Roger-Maurice Bonnet, chairman of a commission on France's space policy,
warned that ESA's launch potential depended crucially on the Ariane 5, after
the workhorse Ariane 4 is withdrawn from service as scheduled next month.

"Without Ariane, Europe's space programme is hobbled. We have to restore
trust among its users. The No. 1 priority has to be reliability," he told



>From Jonathan Tate <]


The draft of the UK's new Space policy document entitled "The draft UK Space
Policy 2003 - 2006 and beyond" was unveiled yesterday and is now available
on the BNSC website at:

The key words "asteroid" and "NEO" (Near Earth Object) do not appear
anywhere in the document, and "comets" are only mentioned in the context of
Giotto and Rosetta.  There is no reference to the impact hazard at all.
Glad to see that the UK is still taking a "world lead" in NEO matters then!

Comments on the BNSC draft should be sent to one of the following addresses
no later than 30 April 2003:

By email to

By Post to:

Strategy Consultation
British National Space Centre
Bay 175
151 Buckingham Palace Road

Or by fax to Strategy Consultation - 020 7215 0936

We'll have to wait and see what falls out of the OECD GSF meeting in
Frascati last week.  As you know, I was due to attend as a member of the
Board of Directors of the Spaceguard Foundation (who were instrumental in
setting up the meeting in Italy).  However, my attendance was actually
vetoed by the British delegation. As Sir Crispin Tickell pointed out, it's
rather nice to see that Spaceguard UK frightens them so much!


(11) PRAVDA "KILLER ASTEROID" STORY (17 January 2003)

>From Vadim A. Simonenko <>

Dear colleagues,

Unfortunately it is impossible to monitor and to react on all scientific,
quasi-scientific and anti-scientific publications in Russia.

It is very typical for such publications that some information is correct
but other parts contain many mistakes, occasionally or intentionally
distorted data, or just some nonsense like ..."The reason to it was a huge
meteorite hundreds times larger than the famous Tunguska meteorite, which
can drop on the Earth on January 25, 2003. The most optimistic forecasts say
that if the meteorite falls, it may raze to the ground the territory of
several thousands of square kilometers.." The damage area of about 2000
square kilometers was for Tunguska object but the object of several
kilometers size is of a global scale impactor.

It's pity that the author, may be having a good intention, did not discuss
such points with specialists. As a journalist reaction on this publication
we had two calls from some press agencies in Moscow to Space Shield
Foundation at Snezhinsk. We have explained them the subject but we don't
know if they would publish the information.

I guess it is not the last publication of such type. And the best way to
withstand them is to spread the real information. We are just on the
beginning of this way in this country.

Best wishes,
Vadim A. Simonenko
Space Shield Foundation


>From Michael Paine <>

Dear Benny

A committee of the Tsunami Society recently issued the following press
release. It parallels repeated concerns about media handling of the NEO

Michael Paine

Founded 1982
Box 37970
Honolulu, HI, 96817, U.S.A.
January 15, 2003


The mission of the Tsunami Society includes "the dissemination of knowledge
about tsunamis to scientists, officials, and the public". We have established
a committee of private, university, and government scientists to accomplish part of
this goal by correcting misleading or invalid information released to public
about this hazard. We can supply both valid, correct and important information
and advice to the public, and the names of reputable scientists active
in the field of tsunami, who can provide such information.

Most recently, the Discovery Channel has replayed a program on alleging
potential destruction of coastal areas of the Atlantic by tsunami waves which
might be generated in the near future  by a volcanic collapse in the Canary
Islands. Other reports have involved a smaller but similar catastrophe from Kilauea volcano
on the island of Hawai`i. They like to call these occurences "mega tsunamis". We
would like to halt the scaremongering from these unfounded reports. We wish to provide the
media with factual information so that the public can be properly informed
about actual hazards of tsunamis and their mitigation.

Here are a set of facts, agreed on by committee members, about the
claims in these reports:

- While the active volcano of Cumbre Vieja on Las Palma is expected to
erupt again, it will not send a large part of the island into the ocean,
though small landslides may occur. The  Discovery program does not bring out
in the interviews that such volcanic collapses are extremely rare events,
separated in geologic time by thousands or even millions of years.

- No such event - a mega tsunami -  has occurred in either the Atlantic
or Pacific oceans in recorded history. NONE.

- The colossal collapses of Krakatau or Santorin (the two most similar
known happenings)  generated catastrophic waves in the immediate area but
hazardous waves did not  propagate to distant shores. Carefully performed
numerical and experimental model experiments on such events and of the
postulated Las Palma event verify that the relatively short waves from these
small, though intense, occurrences do not travel as do tsunami waves from a major

- The U.S. volcano observatory, situated on Kilauea, near the current
eruption, states that there is no likelihood of that part of the island
breaking off into the ocean.

- These considerations have been published in journals and discussed at
conferences sponsored by the Tsunami Society.

Some papers on this subject include:

"Evaluation of the threat of Mega Tsunami Generation From ....Volcanoes
on La Palma ... and Hawaii", George Pararas-Carayannis, in Science of
Tsunami Hazards, Vol 20, No.5, pages 251-277,  2002.

"Modeling the La Palma Landslide Tsunami", Charles L.  Mader, in Science
of Tsunami Hazards, Vol.  19, No.  3, pages  160-180,  2001.

"Volcano Growth and the Evolution of the Island of Hawaii", J.G. Moore
and D.A.Clague, in the Geologic Society of America Bulletin, 104, 1992.

Committee members for this project report include:

Mr.  George Curtis, Hilo,  HI (Committee Chairman) 808-963-6670
Dr.  Tad Murty, Ottawa, Canada, 613-731-8900
Dr.  Charles McCreery, Honolulu, HI, 808-689-6655
Dr.  Laura Kong, Honolulu, HI, 808-532-6422
Dr.  George Pararas-Carayannis, Honolulu, HI,  808-943-1150
Dr.  Charles L. Mader, Los Alamos, NM, 808-396-9855

and all can comment on this or other tsunami matters.

For information regarding the Tsunami Society and its publications ,

For general and  educational material on tsunamis, check:


>From Oliver K. Manuel <>

Dear Benny,

NASA has launched a new spacecraft to look for a connection between
our climate and solar cycles. The CNN news story is available
on-line at

The results may be of great value, if their interpretation is not
limited to the standard solar model.

With kind regards,

Oliver K. Manuel
Professor of Nuclear Chemistry
University of Missouri
Rolla, MO  65401  USA
Phone: 573-341-4420 or -4344
Fax: 573-341-6033
E-mail: or


>From BBC News Online, 19 January 2003

By Justin Webb
BBC Washington correspondent

Fifty million Americans at the last count, are reading a series of novels
which dramatise the 'end times' as fundamentalist Christians call them. The
books also deliver a strong political message. In these fundamentalist
tales, Jesus Christ swoops back to earth and Christians are all taken up to
heaven, as foreseen in the Book of Revelation in the Bible.

Millions upon millions of ordinary Americans, and not just the ones who live
in log huts and think the government is poisoning the water, are reading

The author is an evangelical preacher named Tim Lehaye.

"Never in the history of mankind has there been so much fear of
self-annihilation," he told the BBC. "People are asking the question what is
going to happen in the future, and the Bible gives them the answer."...

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