PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet, 17/2000 - 9 February 2000
---------------------------------

(1) EARLY ALERT ON COMETS AND ASTEROIDS GETS EVEN FASTER
    SpaceDaily, 8 February 2000

(2) THREAT OF ASTEROID DIES WITH MORE DATA
    Space.com, 8 February 2000

(3) EXPERTS RULE OUT ASTEROID THREAT
    New analysis eliminates even a tiny risk of collision
    MSNBC, 8 February 2000

(4) ASTEROID 2000 BF19 DECLARED SAFE
    Ron Baalke <baalke@jpl.nasa.gov>

(5) AUSTRLIAN ASTRONOMER HELPS TO ALLY ASTEROID CONCERN
    Michael Paine <mpaine@tpgi.com.au>

(6) GOOD NEWS ABOUT PAOLO FARINELLA
    Benny J Peiser <b.j.peiser@livjm.ac.uk>

(7) METEORITES REVEAL DEEP SECRET
    BBC News Online, 8 February 2000

(8) SOHO'S SCORE AS WORLD'S TOP COMET FINDER
    ESA <sciweb@estec.esa.nl>

(9) EVENTS AND BRIEFINGS SET FOR HISTORIC ASTEROID ENCOUNTER
    Ron Baalke <BAALKE@kelvin.jpl.nasa.gov>

(10) EROS OR BUST
     Space Science News <express@spacescience.com>

(11) DISCOVERING MORE ASTEROIDS
     JEREMY TATUM <UNIVERSE@uvvm.UVic.CA>


==========
(1) EARLY ALERT ON COMETS AND ASTEROIDS GETS EVEN FASTER

From SpaceDaily, 8 February 2000
http://www.spacedaily.com/spacecast/news/asteroid-00d.html

Cambridge - February 8, 2000 - Anxious astronomers, uncertain whether
to run for cover or to tool up their telescopes, now at least will
get their needed answers faster, thanks to a new high-speed computer
at the world's asteroid and comet early-alert center.

A grant from the Tamkin Foundation of Los Angeles, CA, has permitted
the creation of a high-speed computer network for the Minor Planet
Center, the international clearing house for astronomical information
based at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), that will
allow more rapid determination of the paths of newly discovered
asteroids and comets, including those on possible crash courses with
Earth.

The Minor Planet Center, operated for the International Astronomical
Union, serves the world scientific community by collecting, checking,
and disseminating positional observations and orbital data for
asteroids and comets.

Tracking many thousands of objects simultaneously, the Center
distributes initial and updated data by means of the Minor Planet
Electronic Circulars (issued via email several times a day) and
monthly consolidations of the data in the printed Minor Planet
Circulars.

The new "Tamkin Foundation Computing Network" will greatly enhance
the level of service the Center can provide to astronomers around the
world.

Steven M. Tamkin, Executive Vice-President, presented his family
foundation's contribution to Irwin I. Shapiro, Director of SAO, at an
informal ceremony in Cambridge recently.

An amateur astronomer with a deep interest in near-Earth asteroids
and other objects with the potential to collide with the Earth, Mr.
Tamkin noted that "This is the Foundation's first investment in
nonmedical scientific research, and we look forward to a long and
fruitful partnership in supporting the Center's work."

The combination of observational and computational research is vital
in astronomy, according to Brian Marsden, the Director of the Center
and Associate Director of SAO's Planetary Sciences Division. "During
the past few years new technology has completely revolutionized the
way astronomers make their observations," says Marsden.

"At numerous observatories around the world, computer programs
examine an electronic image of the sky, immediately reduce the data
for each asteroid or comet to a string of numbers, and then
communicate those numbers to us at the Minor Planet Center," he says.

"Our computer programs automatically establish which observations
belong to the same asteroid or comet and make successive improvements
to the orbital solutions that are then added to the database used to
identify further observations," Marsden explains. "It is very
rewarding for us that the Tamkin Foundation will support the
computing technology that is integral to this kind of research."

The Minor Planet center currently keeps tabs on the orbits of some
57,000 asteroids and 1,050 comets. In 1999 alone, there have so far
been 25,000 new asteroids and 60 comets discovered.

In his thanks, SAO Director Irwin Shapiro praised the Tamkin
Foundation's willingness to branch out into new areas of scientific
inquiry.

Copyright 2000, SpaceDaily

===========
(2) THREAT OF ASTEROID DIES WITH MORE DATA

From Space.com, 8 February 2000
http://www.space.com/science/solarsystem/asteroid_reconsidered_000208.html

After announcing Monday that an asteroid had been found to have a small
chance of colliding with Earth, researchers used additional data to
determine on Tuesday that the space rock is no threat. The scientific
backtracking mirrored the downgrading of asteroid threats in four other
recent cases.

The asteroid, named 2000 BF 19, had been calculated as having a
one-in-a-million chance of coming our way in the year 2022.

"The orbit of 2000 BF 19 is incompatible with an impact in 2022," said
Andrea Milani, an Italian researcher who led the group that found 2000
BF 19.

One set of new observations came from Australian asteroid hunter Rob
McNaught, who observed the asteroid on the night of the first
announcement.

The other data had already been collected, however, on February 1 and
2, Milani said, but they were not available when his group made their
calculations. "And I would like to know why," Milani said in an
informational release distributed to colleagues.

The asteroid is the fifth discovered over the past two years and
announced as having a potential to hit Earth. In each case, the initial
calculations have been refined to show a zero probability of collision.

Suggesting there is a flaw in the way in which potentially threatening
asteroids are reported to the public, Milani said, "It is now time to
look at this 'event' with calm, and to try and figure out how it was
handled, what we have learned from this case … and how to do better
next time."

Copyright 2000, Space.com

=============
(3) EXPERTS RULE OUT ASTEROID THREAT
New analysis eliminates even a tiny risk of collision

From MSNBC, 8 February 2000
http://msnbc.com/news/319598.asp?cp1=1
                
By Alan Boyle, MSNBC

Feb. 8 —  Additional analysis has eliminated even a 1-in-a-million
chance of an asteroid collision in the year 2022, astronomers reported
Tuesday.

THE ASTEROID 2000 BF19 was just discovered Jan. 28 by the University of
Arizona’s Spacewatch Project, and cited as a potential threat only
Monday. The University of Pisa’s Andrea Milani issued what he called a
“scientifically urgent” appeal for further observations.

He said he received further data Monday night, from the University of
Arizona’s Jim Scotti as well as from the Australian National
University’s Rob McNaught. The recalculated path came no closer to
Earth than 3.5 million miles during the next 50 years, Milani reported
in e-mail messages to the Cambridge Conference Network.

Milani said one of the lessons learned from the case of 2000 BF19 was
that "everything should be given with an uncertainty."

FULL STORY AT
http://msnbc.com/news/319598.asp?cp1=1
=============
(4) ASTEROID 2000 BF19 DECLARED SAFE

From Ron Baalke <baalke@jpl.nasa.gov>

Asteroid 2000 BF19 Declared Safe

Don Yeomans
NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Manager
February 8, 2000

As expected, asteroid 2000 BF19 has been declared safe.

Italian scientist, Andrea Milani announced that, when additional
observations from Jim Scotti (Spacewatch, Tucson, AZ) and Rob
McNaught (Australia) were processed into the orbital solutions, the
remote chance of an Earth collision in 2022 disappeared completely.  It
now appears that this object will approach the Earth no closer than
0.038 AU = 3.5 million miles in the next 50 years.  It is worth noting
that as more and more near-Earth objects are discovered, there
will be an increasing number of objects whose initial orbits allow the
remote possibility of an Earth impact at some future date.  However,
as additional observations of these newly discovered objects become
available for processing into the orbit determination process, the vast
majority of these potential Earth impact possibilities will disappear.  

=============
(5) AUSTRLIAN ASTRONOMER HELPS TO ALLY ASTEROID CONCERN

From Michael Paine <mpaine@tpgi.com.au>

The Planetary Society Australian Volunteers
Press Release 9 February 2000

Australian astronomer helps to ally asteroid concerns

Once again observations by an Australian astronomer have proved crucial
to show that an asteroid will not collide with the Earth. On 28 January
an asteroid was discovered in an orbit that brings it close to the
Earth every 11 years. Calculations by Italian scientist Andrea Milani
showed that it had a slight possibility of a collision with the Earth
in 2022, after a close approach in 2011.

Asteroid hunter Rob McNaught, from Siding Spring in Australia, managed 
to observe the asteroid on the night of the announcement. His new
observations have helped to pin down the orbit and fresh calculations
show that a collision is not possible.

McNaught's current work is done on a shoe-string budget. Up until 1996 
he was a member of a highly successful Australian team searching for
asteroids that might collide with the Earth. Four years ago the 
Australian government stopped funding this program. Since then the
Planetary Society and other groups have put forward a strong case for
Australia to rejoin the international search effort.

In May 1999 observations by Australian-based asteroid hunter Frank 
Zoltowski caused the Minor Planet Centre to review the predicted orbit 
of asteroid 1999 AN10 and conclude that it was not on a collision
course with the Earth.

Contact: Michael Paine  mpaine@tpgi.com.au
ph 02 94514870   fax 02 99753966
Info http://www1.tpgi.com.au/users/tps-seti/spacegd.html

====================
(6) GOOD NEWS ABOUT PAOLO FARINELLA

From Benny J Peiser <b.j.peiser@livjm.ac.uk>

According to a message from Mario Capino which I have
received this morning, Paolo Farinella had a heart transplant
yesterday. The operation lasted almost 7 hours and, from a surgical point
of view, has been completely successful. The surgeon said that there
was no major difficulty and the new heart is doing its job regularly.
Obviously, these are early days, and we all hope that Paolo will do
just as well in the days and weeks ahead.

For well wishes and further information please contact Mario Carpino
<carpino@brera.mi.astro.it>

============
(7) METEORITES REVEAL DEEP SECRET

From the BBC News Online, 8 February 2000
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_634000/634537.stm

By BBC News Online's Damian Carrington

UK meteorite hunters have tracked down two extremely rare space rocks
which will help probe the deepest parts of the Earth.

The samples were spotted in the arid wastes of the Namib desert. They
contain minerals that have never been seen in terrestrial rocks and yet
probably make up most of our planet.

The reason for this apparent paradox is that the minerals, called
ringwoodite and majorite, only form under extreme pressure - deeper
than 400km below the Earth's surface. Rocks from this depth rarely
come to the surface but, as the Earth's rocky mantle extends to 2,900km
down, the minerals will nevertheless be very abundant.

FULL STORY AT
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_634000/634537.stm

===============
(8) SOHO'S SCORE AS WORLD'S TOP COMET FINDER

From ESA <sciweb@estec.esa.nl>

Calculations completed today confirm that a comet spotted by a
Lithuanian astronomer on 4 February is a previously unknown object,
making it the 100th comet discovered with the SOHO spacecraft.
Launched four years ago as a project of international cooperation
between the European Space Agency and NASA, the Solar and
Heliospheric Observatory has revolutionized the science of the Sun.
It has also revealed an amazing number of kamikaze comets plunging
into the solar atmosphere, which help to make SOHO the most prolific
comet finder in the history of astronomy. But SOHO-100 is an ordinary
comet, and so are two others that have appeared in the past few days.

More at:
http://sci.esa.int/newsitem.cfm?TypeID=1&ContentID=9271&Storytype=12

===========
(9) EVENTS AND BRIEFINGS SET FOR HISTORIC ASTEROID ENCOUNTER

From Ron Baalke <BAALKE@kelvin.jpl.nasa.gov>

Don Savage
Headquarters, Washington, DC              February 8, 2000
(Phone:  202/358-1547)

Helen Worth
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD
(Phone:  240/228-5113)

NOTE TO EDITORS:  N00-4

EVENTS AND BRIEFINGS SET FOR HISTORIC ASTEROID ENCOUNTER

     On Valentine's Day 2000, NASA's NEAR spacecraft will
probably be causing many hearts to beat faster than normal --
especially people in mission control.  They will be watching
over the spacecraft as it makes its second attempt to gently
enter orbit around the near-Earth asteroid Eros, named for the
Greek god of love. 

     The NEAR (Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous) mission, the
first mission to orbit an asteroid, is being conducted for
NASA by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics
Laboratory, Laurel, MD.  Once in orbit, NEAR will begin a
year-long scientific study to scrutinize Eros, including its
chemical and physical features and evolutionary history.  The
asteroid is about twice the size of Manhattan Island.

     The following activities are scheduled: 

               Feb. 14, 2000 -- Encounter Day

     9:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. EST - Rendezvous Activities at the
Applied Physics Laboratory's Kossiakoff Auditorium.  Includes
mission overviews and a live video feed from the Mission
Operations Center during orbit insertion and confirmation.  To
be broadcast live on NASA TV.

     2:00 p.m. EST - Press Briefing in the Kossiakoff Center. 
Includes rendezvous details and distribution of the first
after-orbit insertion image.  To be broadcast live on NASA TV
with two-way question-and-answer capability for reporters
covering the event from participating NASA centers.

                         Feb. 17, 2000

     1:00 p.m. EST - Early Results Press Briefing in the James
E. Webb Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, 300 E St. SW,
Washington, D.C.  Includes early science return information
and images.  To be broadcast live on NASA TV with two-way
question-and-answer capability for reporters covering the
event from participating NASA centers.

     NASA Television is broadcast on the GE2 satellite,
located on Transponder 9C, at 85 degrees West longitude,
frequency 3880.0 Mhz, audio 6.8 MHz.  Audio of the broadcast
will be available on voice circuit at the Kennedy Space Center
on 407/867-1220.

     Contact Helen Worth of JHU APL at 240/228-5113 for media
accreditation to cover Encounter Day activities.

     Images and movies of Eros as NEAR closes in are available
at:   http://near.jhuapl.edu

=================
(10) EROS OR BUST

From Space Science News <express@spacescience.com>

Space Science News for February 8, 2000

Eros or Bust: As any dinosaur can tell you, it's important to keep an
eye on Near-Earth Asteroids.  On February 14, 2000, NASA's NEAR
spacecraft will go into orbit around 433 Eros for a year-long closeup
look at a 21 mile long space rock. Data collected during the mission
could revolutionize our understanding of the solar system's "minor
planets." FULL STORY at

      http://spacescience.com/headlines/y2000/ast08feb_1.htm

=================
* LETTERS TO THE MODERATOR *
===================
(11) DISCOVERING MORE ASTEROIDS

From JEREMY TATUM <UNIVERSE@uvvm.UVic.CA>

Progress in the rate of discovery of asteroids in recent years has
been remarkable, with new ones being discovered now almost as fast as
one can discover new grains of sand on the beach.  The proposal for
military satellites to enter the discovery race represents another
huge leap in the discovery rate.  This is very exciting and very
impressive.  Some initial opposition to the idea might be expected
because it might (probably incorrectly) be perceived that it is going
to put ground-based telescope observers out of work, though I for one
am happy to support and encourage this new initiative.

All the same, it must not be forgotten that discovery without
prolonged, dedicated astrometric follow-up is worth nothing, and at
present discovery far outstrips follow up, and the gap will become
wider with each new discovery initiative.  Follow-up teams rarely
discover new objects, for the entire observing strategies and
techniques are different, and discoveries are fortuitous.  Follow-up
does not have the glamour of discovery, though this does not matter
so much, because most observers seek the personal satisfaction of a
job well done rather than glamour. More serious, however, is the
relative lack of funding for follow-up programmes. Amateur observers
are already contributing greatly for no financial reward, but, as
Gehrels pointed out, there is a need for observations of fainter
objects, that only users of professional equipment can provide. This
is not only for the tracking of intrinsically faint objects, but for
continued monitoring of larger objects, which typically fade rapidly
after their discovery near opposition.  If they are not followed over
a sufficiently long arc, orbital calculations cannot be done
sufficiently accurately for the reliable prediction of subsequent
Earth-approaches, as we have all been made only too aware in the last
couple of years.  Ground-based observers need not fear that they will
be put out of work by the military initiative; there will always be
lots to do.  But we do need at this time to recognize the importance
of follow-up and the importance of financial support for such
programmes, as well as for orbital computation and provision
of ephemerides.

                               Jeremy Tatum


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