PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet 66/2001 - 11 May 2001
---------------------------

"The long-term survival of our species may depend not only on
negating menacing asteroids and comets that threaten Earth, but
colonizing free space, the Moon and Mars, researchers said at a recent
conference at Princeton University. Their idea of an "insurance plan" to
first protect and then proliferate humanity into the cosmos involves taking
up residence in large 10,000-person habitats, positioned between
Earth and the Moon at first, and later spreading out to other niches within
our solar system. But first, we must make sure that life is not wiped
out by a passing space rock."
--Leonard David, Space.com, 10 May 2001


"The dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid that smacked the Earth
65 million years ago, but they survived another cataclysmic event --
perhaps another asteroid impact -- that snuffed out 80 percent of
all species about 200 million years ago, scientists said on Thursday.
[...] Peter Ward said this calamity had tremendous similarities to two of
the other five mass extinctions that have ravaged Earth over the past
500 million years. Like those, Ward said it appears this mass
extinction was caused by a giant rock from space. "We know now that
asteroid impact can cause rapid extinction," Ward said in an interview. "It
may not be an asteroid. But if it isn't an asteroid, it acts like an
asteroid, put it that way."
--Will Dunham, Reuters, 10 May 2001



(1) INSURANCE PLANS FOR HUMANITY'S SURVIVAL
    Space.com, 10 May 2001

(2) COLLAPSE OF SIMPLE LIFE FORMS LINKED TO MASS EXTINCTION 200 MILLION
YEARS AGO
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(3) SUDDEN PRODUCTIVITY COLLAPSE ASSOCIATED WITH THE TRIASSIC-JURASSIC
BOUNDARY MASS EXTINCTION
    Science Vol 292 p1148 1 May 2001

(4) ANCIENT MASS EXTINCTION HAPPENED SUDDENLY
    CNN, 10 May 2001

(5) DINOSAURS SURVIVED CATACLYSM 200 MILLION YEARS AGO
    Reuters, 10 May 2001

(6) STELLAR CANNIBALISM: THE HARSH DESTINY OF A PLANET?
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(7) THE END IS SHY
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(8) ASTEROIDS, COMETS, METEORS - ACM2002
    Gerhard Hahn <ACM2002@dlr.de>

(9) ITALIAN RESEARCHERS FIND TRACES OF LIFE IN METEORITES: PRESS
    SpaceDaily, 10 May 2001

(10) CLIMATE CHANGE "LED TO APPEARANCE OF FIRST HUMANS"
     BBC News Online, 9 May 2001

(11) ASIA DRIED AFRICA
     Nature, 10 May 2001

(12) IMPACT-TRIGGERED BREAK-UP OF COMET C/1999 S4 (LINEAR)
     I. Toth

(13) AN ATTEMPT TO DETECT VULCANOIDS
     G. Schumacher & J. Gay

(14) YARKOVSKY-DRIVEN LEAKAGE OF KORONIS FAMILY MEMBERS
     D. Vokrouhlicky

(15) LIGHTCURVE & COLOURS OF UNUSUAL MINOR PLANET 1998 WU24
     J.K. Davies et al.

(16) SOLAR SAIL OPERATIONS AT ASTEROIDS
     E. Morrow et al.

(17) A POSSIBLE LONG-LIVED ASTEROID POPULATION AROUND SATURN
     M.D. Melita & A. Brunini

(18) IMAGING OF SMALL-SCALE FEATURES ON EROS
     J. Veverka et al.

(19) OBSERVATIONS OF 804 HISPANIA
     M. Calabresi & G. Roselli

(20) AND FINALLY: TRADE GROWING IN STOLEN METEORITES
     BBC News Online, 11 May 2001


=============
(1) INSURANCE PLANS FOR HUMANITY'S SURVIVAL

From Space.com, 10 May 2001
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/planetearth/mass_drivers_010510.html

By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer

PRINCETON, N. J. - Move it, or lose it.

The long-term survival of our species may depend not only on negating
menacing asteroids and comets that threaten Earth, but colonizing free
space, the Moon and Mars, researchers said at a recent conference at
Princeton University.

Their idea of an "insurance plan" to first protect and then proliferate
humanity into the cosmos involves taking up residence in large 10,000-person
habitats, positioned between Earth and the Moon at first, and later
spreading out to other niches within our solar system.

But first, we must make sure that life is not wiped out by a passing space
rock.

Mass driver work reactivated

Asteroids are worrisome intruders in near-Earth space, as well as vast
storehouses of diverse materials, said Lee Valentine, executive vice
president of Princeton University's Space Studies Institute (SSI), which is
starting up a focused effort to develop planetary defense technology, he
said.

Work done by Gerard O'Neill and teams of students to build a mass driver --
an electromagnetic accelerator -- is soon to be reactivated, said Valentine.
Several versions of a mass driver were pursued in years past -- a concept
originally developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, under the
direction of Henry Kolm and O'Neill.

The workings of a mass driver (which are also known as "linear
accelerators") are straightforward. A long track or tunnel is lined with
electromagnets which are wired so they can be switched on and off like
Christmas tree lights. A magnetic object placed at one end is then carried
along on "waves" of magnetic force, created by switching the electromagnets
on and off in the right rhythm. By accelerating the waves of magnetism the
object can be accelerated almost endlessly. On a body with weak-enough
gravity, objects can be easily accelerated to escape velocity -- without
having to fire a single rocket.

The last, substantive work on a mass driver was done in 1983-84, Valentine
said.

One duty for a mass driver, as first proposed, was to move raw lunar
material efficiently and economically to high Earth orbit for processing.
But the same type device can also be used as a reaction engine for pushing
asteroids to useful locations.

"A mass driver is a satisfactory engine for moving asteroids or comets,"
Valentine said. Even better, for altering the trajectory of a rocky
mini-world in the event it's streaking toward Earth, he said.

Valentine said that SSI, in concert with the Robotics Institute at Carnegie
Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will be looking into mass
driver technology. Making such a device more rugged, upping its performance
and demonstrating robotic excavation, loading and firing of a mass driver as
a prototype planetary defense system are to be reviewed, he said.

Wait and watch

"You can convert a hit to a miss using the mass driver," said George
Friedman, SSI board of directors member. Ostensibly, advance spotting of an
impending Earth impactor would allow many years of preparatory time.

An expert on detection and deflection of potentially harmful bodies,
Friedman said a mass driver would be built on an asteroid, which would also
be covered with solar collectors that supply solar power to run the driver
operations. Chunks of the asteroid would be electromagnetically catapulted
out into space, nudging the giant piece of space flotsam in a non-nuclear
way, he said.

"In a year or two, you can move the trajectory of something that would have
hit the Earth," Friedman said.

At present, we know that there are about 1,000 asteroids roughly larger than
a half mile (1 kilometer) in diameter whose orbits cross Earth's. These are
large enough to inflict serious global consequences in a collision.
Furthermore, upwards of 250,000 smaller space rocks are out there too. They
are considered more on the city-buster side of terror from the sky.

Cataloging the "bigger guys" is coming along beautifully, said asteroid
expert, said John Lewis of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the
University of Arizona in Tucson. Radical new technology is needed to find
the smaller objects, he added.

Lewis said asteroid cataloging is necessary to help discern which objects
should be treated more as a resource than as a threat. Also, once an
asteroid's orbit is nailed down, observers are needed to re-check an
object's whereabouts from time to time.

"The idea is to nail the orbit well enough the first time around so that you
will acquire it the next time around," Lewis said.

"Follow-up is cheap and easy compared to discovery," Lewis said.

Survival 101

The "pay-as-you-go" orbital flight of Dennis Tito was hailed as a signal
that a market for human presence in space is evolving, said Lewis. "More
power to him," he said.

Lewis called Tito's trek as a sign that "the monolithic,
government-controlled monopoly on space is cracking."

But what the world really needs now is a life insurance policy, said J.
Richard Gott III, astrophysicist at Princeton University. "This is a planet
littered with the bones of extinct species showing us that such catastrophes
on Earth happen to individual species on a routine basis," he said.

Gott said that we should be asking ourselves what space program can be
undertaken in the next 40 years. He advocates a self-supporting colony in
space as a goal that would change the course of history and help the
prospects for our species to survive.

Gott struck a tone similar to that of John F. Kennedy's circa-1960s quest to
land a man on the Moon. "Space colonization is a challenge that this
generation should be willing to accept and one that it should be unwilling
to postpone," he said.

"I think we should care about our survival as a species," Gott told
SPACE.com.

Spreading out via space colonies and a settlement on Mars increases our
chances for survival. Being a multi-planet species not only lessens the
chance of humans being wiped out by an Earth impacting asteroid, but also
validates that Neil Armstrong's "one small step" on the Moon can be truly
viewed as a history-changing event, he said.

Copyright 2001, Space.com

==========
(2) COLLAPSE OF SIMPLE LIFE FORMS LINKED TO MASS EXTINCTION 200 MILLION
YEARS AGO

From Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

University of Washington
Seattle, Washington

FROM: Vince Stricherz, 206-543-2580 ,vinces@u.washington.edu

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 10, 2001

Collapse of simple life forms linked to mass extinction 200 million years
ago

A mass extinction about 200 million years ago, which destroyed at least half
of the species on Earth, happened very quickly and is demonstrated in the
fossil record by the collapse of one-celled organisms called protists,
according to new research led by a University of Washington paleontologist.

"Something suddenly killed off more than 50 percent of all species on Earth,
and that led to the age of dinosaurs," said Peter Ward, a UW Earth and space
sciences professor.

Evidence indicates the massive die-off was linked with an abrupt drop in
productivity, the rate at which inorganic carbon is turned into organic
carbon through processes such as photosynthesis. The waning productivity
coincided with a sharp decline in radiolaria (included among protists),
which was the focus of the new research. One example of productivity, Ward
explained, occurs in the spring when fertilizer washes into waterways and
triggers large algae blooms. The processes at work in that scenario were
reversed 200 million years ago, he said.

There is no definitive evidence yet on what caused the demise of so many
species, Ward said. However, the suddenness of the event is similar to two
better-known mass extinctions - one 250 million years ago at the end of the
Permian period that killed some 90 percent of all species, the other 65
million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period that sent the
dinosaurs into oblivion.

The extinction 200 million years ago, at the boundary between the Triassic
and Jurassic periods, killed the last of the mammal-like reptiles that once
roamed the Earth and left mainly dinosaurs, Ward said. That extinction
happened in less than 10,000 years, in the blink of an eye, geologically
speaking.

Ward is the lead author on a paper detailing the evidence, published in the
May 11 edition of the journal Science. Others participating in the research
are James Haggart and Howard Tipper of the Geological Survey of Canada in
Vancouver, British Columbia; Elizabeth Carter, a researcher at Oregon's
Portland State University; David Wilbur, a UW oceanography research
scientist; and Tom Evans, a UW junior in chemistry and Earth and space
sciences.

The evidence from the extinction was gathered at two sites in the Queen
Charlotte Islands, off Canada's British Columbia coast.

"These sites are among the most remote places in the world," Ward said.
"There are no roads anywhere close by. The forests are virgin old growth,
and the wave action is such that you can't get there by boat."

Samples from a spot called Kennecott Point, in the northern Queen
Charlottes, and from Kunga Island, about 100 miles to the southeast, showed
a sharp decline in the presence of organic carbon, even at places where
levels of inorganic carbon rose. The organic carbon decline correlated with
the decline of radiolarians, one-celled organisms that serve as a food
source for a number of marine species.

"These provide the best record of how nasty the extinction was at this
boundary," Ward said.

The mass extinction 200 million years ago occurred just before the breakup
of Pangea, which contained all the land on Earth in one supercontinent. At
the time, the Queen Charlotte Islands - which now lie between 52 and 54
degrees north latitude - were probably on the equator or in the southern
hemisphere, Ward said.

"These are tropical fossils. There are many kinds of fossils in these
rocks," he said.

And they tell a story of a calamity that came on with stunning swiftness.

"This is the first time ever that we can see how sudden this event was," he
said. "It was very quick, not a long protracted episode."

Ward now has done research on the last three of the Earth's mass extinctions
(scientists know of five) and has found that each happened quite quickly.

Bolstered by a recent astrobiology grant from the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration, he plans to lead researchers back to the Queen
Charlottes this summer to look for more clues in the Triassic-Jurassic
extinction, including potential causes.

For more information, contact Ward at 206-543-2962 or argo@u.washington.edu

==============
(3) SUDDEN PRODUCTIVITY COLLAPSE ASSOCIATED WITH THE TRIASSIC-JURASSIC
BOUNDARY MASS EXTINCTION
 
Science Vol 292 p1148 1 May 2001
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/current/

Sudden Productivity Collapse Associated with the Triassic-Jurassic Boundary
Mass
Extinction
P. D. Ward, 1 * J. W. Haggart, 2 E. S. Carter, 3 D. Wilbur, 4 H. W. Tipper,
2 T. Evans 1

The end-Triassic mass extinction is one of the five most catastrophic in
Phanerozoic Earth history. Here we report carbon isotope evidence of a
pronounced productivity collapse at the boundary, coincident with a sudden
extinction among marine plankton, from stratigraphic sections on the Queen
Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, Canada. This signal is similar to
(though smaller than) the carbon isotope excursions associated with the
Permian-Triassic and Cretaceous-Tertiary events.

=============
(4) ANCIENT MASS EXTINCTION HAPPENED SUDDENLY

From CNN, 10 May 2001
http://www.cnn.com/2001/TECH/science/05/10/mass.extinction/index.html

By Richard Stenger
CNN

(CNN) -- A cataclysmic event quickly killed off most of the species on Earth
about 200 million years ago, after which dinosaurs began their long reign on
the planet, according to a report to be published in Friday's edition of the
journal Science.

"This mass extinction has been known for a long time, but this is the first
study to show that it happened suddenly," said paleontologist Peter Ward,
lead author of the report.

"This is the first time that we can see how sudden the event was. It was
very quick. Not a long, protracted episode."

Researchers found evidence of the rampant die-off, which took place on the
boundary of the Triassic and Jurassic periods, by studying the fossil record
of common marine plankton from the era.

Between 50 and 80 percent of life on the planet didn't survive the
catastrophic period, which lasted less than 10,000 years -- the blink of an
eye in geological terms.

Various causes suspected; dinos spared

An asteroid collision, like those thought to have sparked other large-scale
extinctions over the ages, is among the suspected causes of the episode. One
such event 65 million years ago ended the age of dinosaurs.

A sudden change in climate induced by a burst of volcanic activity may also
have triggered the event. Ward and his colleagues noted that the die-off
took place just before the breakup of Pangea, a supercontinent that included
all the landmasses on Earth.

Curiously, the extinction killed off mammal-like reptiles that once roamed
the Earth, but spared the dinosaurs, according to the report. "Perhaps
creatures reproducing with buried eggs survived and large animals with live
births did not," Ward speculated.

The researchers from the United States and Canada trudged through thick
forests on remote islands off British Columbia to gather fossil evidence
showing sharp, correlating collapses in organic carbon -- a marker of plant
life productivity -- and radiolarians, single-cell organisms that served as
a food source for many marine species.

"These provide the best report of how nasty the extinction was at this
boundary," Ward said.

Copyright 2001, CNN

==========
(5) DINOSAURS SURVIVED CATACLYSM 200 MILLION YEARS AGO

From Reuters, 10 May 2001
http://news.excite.com/news/r/010510/14/news-science-extinction-dc

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid that
smacked the Earth 65 million years ago, but they survived another
cataclysmic event -- perhaps another asteroid impact -- that snuffed out 80
percent of all species about 200 million years ago, scientists said on
Thursday.

By studying the fate of a type of marine plankton, single-celled organisms
called Radiolaria, researchers found that the mass extinction was a sudden
event, not the prolonged die-off that experts previously had thought. The
extinction occurred at the boundary between the Triassic and Jurassic
periods during the Mesozoic era.

The event provided the death knell for most species and helped crown the
dinosaurs, which arose earlier in the Triassic, as the rulers of the Earth,
said Peter Ward, a University of Washington paleontologist who led the
study.

Ward said this calamity had tremendous similarities to two of the other five
mass extinctions that have ravaged Earth over the past 500 million years.
Like those, Ward said it appears this mass extinction was caused by a giant
rock from space.

"We know now that asteroid impact can cause rapid extinction," Ward said in
an interview. "It may not be an asteroid. But if it isn't an asteroid, it
acts like an asteroid, put it that way."

Most scientists believe an asteroid strike caused the mass extinction at the
end of the Cretaceous period that killed the dinosaurs and ushered in the
age of mammals. In February, scientists presented evidence that an asteroid
or comet impact also caused the even bigger extinction at the boundary
between the Permian and Triassic periods 250 million years ago.

EVIDENCE OFF THE COAST OF BRITISH COLUMBIA

Ward's team gathered evidence about the extinction 199.6 million years ago
at two remote sites in the Queen Charlotte Islands off Canada's British
Columbia coast, examining fossil samples indicating a collapse of the
plankton population.

The researchers found an abrupt drop in the rate at which inorganic carbon
was turned into organic carbon by life forms through processes such as
photosynthesis.

The organic carbon decline coincided with the disappearance of more than 50
species of radiolarians, which served as a food source for numerous marine
species and whose disappearance was an indicator of a major biological
crisis.

The study was published in the journal Science.

Ward said the research indicated it took less than 10,000 years for the mass
extinction to unfold. It could have taken place even more quickly -- perhaps
in an instant, he added.

"This thing was real fast," Ward said.

At the time, most dinosaurs were relatively small, and they were locked in a
survival-of-the-fittest battle with other well-adapted animals, including
the mammal-like reptiles -- the biggest of which were among the major
herbivores of their day.

"These suckers are huge, they're hulking," Ward said.

But the mammal-like reptiles -- whose earlier forms gave rise to the first
true mammals -- perished in the calamity.

"One of the great mysteries has been ... why would these creatures, which
are seemingly better adapted for eating a variety of plant sources, die out
and the dinosaurs not? And the answer is: Mass extinction doesn't give a
hoot about your adaptations for everyday life. There's a lottery involved,
for whatever reason," Ward said.

Also nearly wiped off the planet were the ammonoids -- marine predators that
resembled a giant squid in coiled cone shell.

DEATH FROM THE SKY?

Ward said there are ongoing studies to try to confirm an asteroid as the
cause. Ward said he has found evidence of little carbon molecules called
buckminsterfullerenes -- or buckyballs -- that hint at a space rock as the
culprit. He said a massive crater in Quebec called the Manicouagan
structure, which measures 60 miles wide, could be the impact site. The
crater has been dated to 214 million years ago, but Ward said the date may
be too old.

Ward said alternative theories include an explosion of a nearby star that
could have blown off the Earth atmosphere's ozone layer and sent
temperatures soaring, or massive volcanic activity, possibly related to the
breakup of the archaic supercontinent known as Pangea.

Scientists know very little about the mass extinctions that took place 350
million and 420 million years ago, Ward said.

Copyright 2001, Excite.com

===========
(6) STELLAR CANNIBALISM: THE HARSH DESTINY OF A PLANET?

From Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

ESO Education and Public Relations Dept.
Contacts

Garik Israelian and Rafael Rebolo
Instituto de Astrofisica der Canarias
La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
Tel.: +34-922-605200
email: gil@ll.iac.es and rrl@ll.iac.es

Nuno Santos and Michel Mayor
Observatoire de Geneve
Switzerland
Tel.: +41-22-755-2611
email: nuno.santos@obs.unige.ch and michel.mayor@obs.unige.ch

Embargoed until Wednesday, May 9, 2001, at 20:00 hrs CEST (18:00 UT)
ESO Press Release 10/01

The Harsh Destiny of a Planet? The VLT Uncovers Traces of Stellar
Cannibalism

Summary: Did the star HD 82943 swallow one of its planets?

What may at a first glance look like the recipe for a dramatic
science-fiction story is in fact the well-considered conclusion of a serious
scientific study, to be published by a group of astronomers in Switzerland
and Spain [1] in tomorrow's issue of the international
research journal "Nature".

Using the very efficient UVES high-resolution spectrograph at the ESO VLT
8.2-m KUEYEN telescope, they have convincingly detected the presence of the
rare isotope Lithium-6 (6Li; [2]) in this metal-rich, solar-type dwarf star
that is also known to possess a planetary system, cf. ESO Press Release
13/00.

Unlike the Lithium-7 (7Li) isotope of this light element, any primordial
Lithium-6 would not survive the early evolutionary stages of a metal-rich
solar-type star. The Lithium-6 now seen in HD 82943 must therefore have been
added later, but from where? The astronomers believe that this observation
strongly suggests that the star has at some moment engulfed one of its
planets, whose Lithium-6 was then deposited in the star's atmosphere.

This surprising discovery represents important observational evidence that
planets may fall into their host stars.

Text with all links and the photo is available on the ESO Website at URL:
http://www.eso.org/outreach/press-rel/pr-2001/pr-10-01.html

=============
(7) THE END IS SHY

From Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

From Nature, 9 May 2001
[ http://www.nature.com/nsu/010510/010510-7.html ]

Wednesday 9 May 2001

The end is shy
By PHILIP BALL

About seven billion years from now our Sun will start to expire. In its
initial death throes it will become a 'red giant' star large enough to
engulf our planet, spelling the end for life on Earth. The planet itself may
ultimately evaporate like a snowflake falling into a fire, new
research suggests.

Kacper Rybicki of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw and C. Denis of
the University of Liège in Belgium are among the first to take tidal forces
into account in calculating the Earth's end game. They conclude that our
planet's unique good fortune to be located just far enough from the Sun to
support life makes its final fate extremely hard to gauge [1].

Venus, our neighbour on the sunward side, doesn't really have a chance -- it
is almost certain to be evaporated, their research suggests. Mars, the next
planet out from the Earth, should survive the Sun's red-giant phase, as will
the more distant planets. As the Sun then cools and shrinks to a dim, dense
white dwarf star, these planets will continue in their orbits --
traumatized, no doubt, but more or less intact.

The Sun won't burn for ever, because its fuel -- hydrogen -- will run out.
Nuclear fusion converts hydrogen, the lightest element, to helium (the
second lightest). When nearly all the hydrogen has been consumed, the Sun
will become a red giant.

Then the Sun will begin to fuse helium instead, making still heavier
elements. As helium ignites in the core, the Sun will emit a flash of heat
and light, signalling the end of its red-giant phase. More than 100 million
years later, further changes in the fusion process will cause it to emit a
series of other heat pulses. Eventually, running out of anything to burn,
the Sun will cool and shrink.

The fate of the planets during this turbulent time depends on many things.
One is whether the Sun grows big enough to swallow them. Some estimate that
a red-giant Sun will fall short of the current orbit of the Earth, others
that it will exceed this.

But the distance between the Sun and the planets will itself change during
this time. As a red giant, the Sun will throw off some of its atmosphere.
This drop in mass will reduce its gravitational pull -- so the planets will
move further out.

Planets engulfed by or close to the outermost layers of the Sun, on the
other hand, will encounter drag forces, like fish swimming through water.
This will slow them down, leading them to spiral into the Sun's core.

Rybicki and Denis calculate the effects of these drag forces on the orbits
of the planets. In particular, they consider tidal forces. The Moon loses a
little energy as it sloshes the Earth's oceans back and forth, and this
causes a tiny, constant decrease in the Moon's orbit. The same would happen
to the Earth if the Sun's outer envelope were to come close enough.
***
[The above paragraph was changed to the below on the Nature web-site.
You might want to click on the highlighted text for a good explanation of
of why the Moon is moving AWAY from Earth! bobk]
[Rybicki and Denis calculate the effects of these drag forces on the orbits
of the planets. In particular, they consider tidal forces. The Moon is constantly
losing a little energy as it sloshes the Earth's oceans back and forth. Similarly,
the Earth would also lose energy through tidal effects if the Sun's outer envelope
were to come close enough, and this would make its orbit smaller.
]
***
Previous studies of the fate of the Solar System have neglected these tidal
effects. Without them, Earth and Venus move gradually further from the
red-giant Sun. When they are included, Venus spirals inwards and is
engulfed.

The Earth would probably survive -- to face the heat pulses that follow the
red-giant phase. Each of these pulses would temporarily puff out the Sun,
and the researchers say it is likely that one of the pulses would engulf the
Earth and drag it down. Deep inside the Sun, the planet would
evaporate.

If the pulses are short enough, they might not set the Earth on its terminal
spiral. Instead, the planet might cling to its orbit, baked but still whole,
until the Sun recedes. Then it would join Mars and the outer planets in a
grave procession around the fading Sun.

It would be nice to feel that our planet will indeed remain as a kind of
cosmic gravestone -- but Rybicki and Denis think that evaporation is a more
probable end.

[1] Rybicki, K. R. & Denis, C. On the final destiny of the Earth and the
    solar system. Icarus 151, 130-137 (2001).

© Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2001 - NATURE NEWS SERVICE

=======
(8) ASTEROIDS, COMETS, METEORS - ACM2002

From Gerhard Hahn <ACM2002@dlr.de>

Berlin, July 29 - August 2, 2002

Organized by

DLR - Institute of Space Sensor Technology and Planetary Exploration,
Berlin-Adlershof and Technical University, TU - Berlin

First Announcement

The next meeting of the International Conference ASTEROIDS, COMETS, METEORS
- ACM2002 will be held in Berlin from July 29 to August 2, 2002.

Location: The Conference will take place on the campus of the Technical
University (TU-Berlin), located in the centre of Berlin.

Further information will be provided in the second announcement, and on the
web page  http://earn.dlr.de/ACM2002 .

In order to estimate the number of participants and to update our mailing
list we would appreciate receiving your response by filling out
the on-line form. Please forward this message to other people you feel could
be interested in the meeting.

We are looking forward to seeing you in Berlin.

Gerhard Neukum
Uri Carsenty
Gerhard Hahn

on behalf of the Local Organizing Committee
----------------------------------------------

Scientific Organizing Committee (SOC)

M. Ahearn, USA
C. Arpigny, Belgium
M.A. Barucci, France
E.L.G. Bowell, USA
Z. Ceplecha, Czech Republic
B.E. Clark, USA
M. Festou, France
G. Hahn (Co-Chair), Germany
A.W. Harris, USA
W. Huebner, USA
E.K. Jessberger, Germany
D.C. Jewitt, USA
H.-U. Keller, Germany
C.-I. Lagerkvist, Sweden
A.Milani, Italy
G. Neukum, Germany
H. Rauer (Co-chair), Germany
H. Reitsma, USA
R.M. West, ESO
I.P. Williams, U.K.
E. Sedlmayr, Germany
G. Schwehm, ESTEC
V. Zappala, Italy

Local Organizing Commitee (LOC)

J. Benkhoff
U. Carsenty (Chair)
D. Dolzycka
G. Hahn
A. Harris
S. Mottola
G. Neukum
H. Rauer
E. Sedlmayr

========
(9) ITALIAN RESEARCHERS FIND TRACES OF LIFE IN METEORITES: PRESS

From SpaceDaily, 10 May 2001
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/010510014102.tc9rjtea.html
 
ROME (AFP) May 10, 2001

Italian researchers have found traces of life in 4.5 billion-year-old
meteorites, according to the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

Geologist Bruno D'Argegno and molecular biologist Giuseppe Geraci, both from
the Federico II University in Naples, borrowed meteorite samples from a
local museum and introduced them to a "physiological solution," D'Argegno
told the paper.

"Then we saw these micro-organisms appear and begin to move," the researcher
said.

The scientists noted 78 different types of bacteria -- known as
crystallo-microbes or "crim" for short -- which they identified as being
similar to ones which existed on Earth some 3.5 billion years ago.

The bacteria were described as very primitive organisms, with a DNA network
but no immune system.

The two Italian experts presented their conclusions to the Italian Space
Agency (ASI) on Wednesday, the paper said.

The space agency's scientific director, astrophsicist Giovanni F. Bignami
hailed the findings as "an excellent basis for boosting research programmes
dedicated to the search for life on other planets in the solar system."

All rights reserved. © 2000 Agence France-Presse

============
(10) CLIMATE CHANGE "LED TO APPEARANCE OF FIRST HUMANS"

From the BBC News Online, 9 May 2001
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1321000/1321867.stm

Climate change led to the appearance of the first humans

By the BBC's Andrew Craig

There is a new theory about what caused the change in the East African
climate that may have led to the evolution of humans.

It was clearly a complex combination of circumstances that created the
conditions in which our ancestors appeared
 
Two American researchers say that the catalyst may have been the gradual
drifting of the Indonesian islands, rather than the North Atlantic currents
which have usually been held responsible.

The first creatures that are usually described as human are thought to have
evolved in East Africa after it became drier between four million and
two-and-a-half million years ago.

Although there are rival theories, it is widely believed that as forests
gave way to grassland, early hominids adapted by spending more time on their
two feet, and scavenging meat as well as gathering fruit and roots.

Rainfall change

But why did the African climate change? Mark Cane and Peter Molnar, writing
in the journal Nature, say the answer may lie far to the east in Indonesia,
whose islands divide the Indian Ocean from the Pacific.

Five million years ago, they believe, much of the water flowing into the
Indian Ocean came from the Pacific's southern, warmer half. That warm water
led to more rainfall in East Africa.

Our ancestors evolved in East Africa
 
But, as Australia and New Guinea drifted northwards, the warm southern
current was blocked by such Indonesian islands as Halmahera, which grew much
bigger at the time.

The result was a much higher proportion of cold, North Pacific water
reaching the Indian Ocean. That meant less evaporation, and less rain in
East Africa.

Until now, the dryer African climate has been ascribed to the closing of the
gap between North and South America, and the subsequent flow of the Gulf
Stream across the North Atlantic.

It was clearly a complex combination of circumstances that created the
conditions in which our ancestors appeared.

Copyright 2001, BBC

===========
(11) ASIA DRIED AFRICA

From Nature, 10 May 2001
http://www.nature.com/nsu/010510/010510-12.html

Almost 3 million years ago a previously moist and warm east Africa, which
was covered with tropical woodlands and green landscapes, was transformed
into a dry, grass-covered savannah. It had been assumed1 that this climatic
change originated in the north Atlantic. Now Mark Cane from the
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, and Peter Molnar of
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology argue that it could have been
caused by the closure of the Indonesian seaway.

FULL STORY at http://www.nature.com/nsu/010510/010510-12.html

=============
* ABSTRACTS *
=============

(12) IMPACT-TRIGGERED BREAK-UP OF COMET C/1999 S4 (LINEAR)

Toth I: Impact-triggered breakup of comet C/1999 S4 (LINEAR): Identification
of the closest intersecting orbits of other small bodies with its orbit
ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS 368 (3): L25-L28 MAR 2001

As we are still not certain of the causes of the splitting of comet C/1999
S4 (LINEAR), we attempt to explain the initiation and/or triggering of the
breakup of the nucleus of this comet by impact-induced events from possible
larger debris or a debris cloud dispersed around the orbits of known
asteroids. A computer search showed that Comet C/1999 S4 (LINEAR) crossed
the orbits of seven known asteroids from December 1999 to March 2000.
Impact-induced activity may have initiated or contributed to the breakup
process of this comet in late 1999 or early 2000 creating the observed
fragments in July and August 2000.

Addresses:
Toth I, Konkoly Observ Budapest, POB 67, H-1525 Budapest, Hungary
Konkoly Observ Budapest, H-1525 Budapest, Hungary

Copyright © 2001 Institute for Scientific Information

========
(13) AN ATTEMPT TO DETECT VULCANOIDS

Schumacher G, Gay J: An attempt to detect Vulcanoids with SOHO/LASCO images
I. Scale relativity and quantization of the solar system
ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS  368 (3): 1108-1114 MAR 2001

We report an attempt to verify one of the predictions of Scale Relativity
theory, namely that a small Vulcanoid should exist at 0.18 AU from the Sun.
We have analyzed images taken by the coronograph LASCO aboard the satellite
SOHO. Raw images are processed in order to eliminate cosmic ray impacts,
stars and to improve the contrast. We have examined the resulting cleaned-up
images both visually and by means of automatic detection using our own
software. We have found no objects of visual magnitude 7 or brighter,
corresponding to bodies with a diameter exceeding 60 km.

Addresses:
Schumacher G, CNRS, Observ Cote Azur, Dept Augustin Fresnel, UMR 6528, Av
Copernic, F-06130 Grasse, France
CNRS, Observ Cote Azur, Dept Augustin Fresnel, UMR 6528, F-06130 Grasse,
France
CNRS, Observ Cote Azur, Dept Augustin Fresnel, UMR 6528, F-06304 Nice 4,
France

Copyright © 2001 Institute for Scientific Information

=============
(14) YARKOVSKY-DRIVEN LEAKAGE OF KORONIS FAMILY MEMBERS

Vokrouhlicky D, Broz M, Farinella P, Knezevic Z: Yarkovsky-driven leakage of
Koronis family members I. The case of 2953 Vysheslavia
ICARUS 150 (1): 78-93 MAR 2001

The orbit of the asteroid 2953 Vysheslavia is currently locked in a tiny
chaotic zone very close to the 5:2 mean motion jovian resonance. Its
dynamical lifetime is estimated to be of the order of only about 10 Myr.
Since Vysheslavia is a member of the Koronis family, such a short dynamical
lifetime opens a variety of interesting questions concerning its origin and
evolution. A. Milani and P. Farinella (1995, Icarus 115, 209-212) considered
a number of plausible scenarios and suggested that most probably Vysheslavia
is an outcome of a recent secondary fragmentation event in the family. Here
we propose that Vysheslavia might have been placed on its peculiar orbit by
a slow inward drift of the semimajor axis due to the Yarkovsky effect.
Numerical simulations confirm that such evolutionary processes can take
100-500 Myr, a period comparable to but still shorter than the probable age
of the family ton the order of a Gyr), depending on the thermal properties
of Vysheslavia's surface, the orientation of its spin axis, and its size. we
have also integrated orbits of the asteroids 7340 (1991 UA(2)) and 1993
FR58, located very close to but outside the chaotic zone that triggers
Vysheslavia's orbit instability, and we show that the orbits of these
asteroids may also slowly evolve toward the chaotic zone. Such an erosion of
the asteroid families, caused by a slow leakage to the nearby powerful
resonances, could be fairly common in the main asteroid belt. (C) 2001
Academic Press.

Addresses:
Vokrouhlicky D, Charles Univ, Astron Inst, V Holesovickach 2, CZ-18000
Prague 8, Czech Republic
Charles Univ, Astron Inst, CZ-18000 Prague 8, Czech Republic
Univ Trieste, Dipartimento Astron, I-34131 Trieste, Italy
Astron Observ, YU-11160 Belgrade 74, Yugoslavia

Copyright © 2001 Institute for Scientific Information

============
(15) LIGHTCURVE & COLOURS OF UNUSUAL MINOR PLANET 1998 WU24

Davies JK, Tholen DJ, Whiteley RJ, Green SF, Hillier JK, Foster MJ, McBride
N, Kerr TH, Muzzerall E: The lightcurve and colors of unusual minor planet
1998 WU24
ICARUS 150 (1): 69-77 MAR 2001

Minor planet 1998 WU24 is unusual in having the orbital characteristics of a
Halley family comet but showing no sign of cometary activity. We present
optical data that reveal a double-peaked lightcurve with a period of 7.283
+/- 0.003 h and a peak-to-peak amplitude of similar to0.54 mag. Infrared
spectroscopy and quasi-simultaneous BVRIJHK photometry reveal a featureless
K-band spectrum and colors typical of D-type asteroids, and suspected "bare"
comet nuclei (B-V = 0.78 +/- 0.034, V-R = 0.53 +/- 0.037, V-I = 0.99 +/-
0.035,V-J = 1.67 +/- 0,043, V-H = 2.10 +/- 0.076 and V-K = 2.34 +/- 0.102).
Image profiles from co-added frames in the R band indicate no apparent
cometary activity, with an implied upper limit to the dust production rate
of 150 g s(-1). Assuming a D-type albedo of 0.04 we derive a spherical
equivalent diameter of 5.28 +/- 0.07 km although the lightcurve amplitude
implies an irregular body with an axial ratio of 1.64: 1. We conclude that
1998 WU24 is probably an inactive comet nucleus. (C) 2001 Academic Press.

Addresses:
Davies JK, Joint Astron Ctr, 660 N Aohoku Pl, Hilo, HI 96720 USA
Joint Astron Ctr, Hilo, HI 96720 USA
Inst Astron, Honolulu, HI 96822 USA
Univ Kent, Sch Phys Sci, Unit Space Sci & Astrophys, Canterbury CT2 7NR,
Kent, England

Copyright © 2001 Institute for Scientific Information

==========
(16) SOLAR SAIL OPERATIONS AT ASTEROIDS

Morrow E, Scheeres DJ, Lubin D: Solar sail orbit operations at asteroids
JOURNAL OF SPACECRAFT AND ROCKETS  38 (2): 279-286 MAR-APR 2001

The inherent capabilities of solar sails and that they need no onboard
supplies of fuel for propulsion make them well suited for use in long-term,
multiple-objective missions. They are especially well suited for the
exploration of asteroids, where one spacecraft could rendezvous with a
number of asteroids in succession. The orbital mechanics of solar sail
operations about an asteroid, however, have not yet been studied in detail.
Building an previous studies, we find both hovering points and orbiting
trajectories about various sized asteroids using equations of motion for a
solar sail spacecraft. The orbiting trajectories are stable and offer good
coverage of the asteroid surface, although restrictions on sail acceleration
are needed for smaller asteroids.

Addresses:
Morrow E, Univ Calif San Diego, Scripps Inst Oceanog 0214, Calif Space Inst,
La Jolla, CA 92093 USA
Univ Calif San Diego, Scripps Inst Oceanog 0214, Calif Space Inst, La Jolla,
CA 92093 USA
Univ Michigan, Dept Aerosp Engn, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 USA
Univ Calif San Diego, Scripps Inst Oceanog 0221, Calif Space Inst, La Jolla,
CA 92093 USA

Copyright © 2001 Institute for Scientific Information

===========
(17) A POSSIBLE LONG-LIVED ASTEROID POPULATION AROUND SATURN

Melita MD, Brunini A: A possible long-lived asteroid population at the
equilateral Lagrangian points of Saturn
MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY  322 (2): L17-L21 APR 1
2001

The Lagrangian equilateral points of a planetary orbit are points of
equilibrium that trail at 60 degrees, ahead (L4) or behind (L5), the
trajectory of a planet. Jupiter is the only major planet in our Solar system
harbouring a known population of asteroids at those locations. Here we
report the existence of orbits close to the Lagrangian points of Saturn,
stable at time-scales comparable to the age of the Solar system. By scaling
with respect to the Trojan population we have estimated the number of
objects that would populate the regions, which gives a significant figure.
Moreover, mutual physical collisions over the age of the Solar system would
be very rare, so the evaporation rare of this swarm arising from mutual
interactions would be very low. A population of asteroids not
self-collisionally evolved after their formation stage would be the first to
be observed in our planetary system. Our present estimations are based on
the assumption that the capture efficiency at Saturn's equilateral points is
comparable with the one corresponding to Jupiter, thus our figures may be
taken as upper limits. In any case, observational constraints on their
number would provide fundamental clues to our understanding of the history
of the outer Solar system. If they existed, the surface properties and size
distribution of those objects would represent unusually valuable fossil
records of our early planetary system.

Addresses:
Melita MD, Univ Nacl La Plata, Astron Observ, Paseo Bosque S-N,B1900FWA, La
Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Univ Nacl La Plata, Astron Observ, La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Copyright © 2001 Institute for Scientific Information

===========
(18) IMAGING OF SMALL-SCALE FEATURES ON EROS

Veverka J, Thomas PC, Robinson M, Murchie S, Chapman C, Bell M, Harch A,
Merline WJ, Bell JF, Bussey B, Carcich B, Cheng A, Clark B, Domingue D,
Dunham D, Farquhar R, Gaffey MJ, Hawkins E, Izenberg N, Joseph J, Kirk R, Li
H, Lucey P, Malin M, McFadden L, Miller JK, Owen WM, Peterson C, Prockter L,
Warren J, Wellnitz D, Williams BG, Yeomans DK: Imaging of small-scale
features on 433 Eros from NEAR: Evidence for a complex regolith
SCIENCE 292 (5516): 484-488 APR 20 2001

On 25 October 2000, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendevous (NEAR)-Shoemaker
spacecraft executed a low-altitude flyover of asteroid 433 Eros, making it
possible to image the surface at a resolution of about 1 meter per pixel.
The Images reveal an evolved surface distinguished by an abundance of ejecta
blocks, a dearth of small craters, and smooth material infilling some
topographic lows. The subdued appearance of craters of different diameters
and the variety of blocks and different degrees of their burial suggest that
ejecta from several impact events blanketed the region imaged at closest
approach and led to the building up of a substantial and complex regolith
consisting of fine materials and abundant meter-sized blocks.

Addresses:
Veverka J, Cornell Univ, Space Sci Bldg, Ithaca, NY 14853 USA
Cornell Univ, Ithaca, NY 14853 USA
Northwestern Univ, Dept Geol Sci, Evanston, IL 60208 USA
Johns Hopkins Univ, Appl Phys Lab, Laurel, MD 20723 USA
SW Res Inst, Boulder, CO 80302 USA
Rensselaer Polytech Inst, Ctr Sci, Dept Earth & Environm Sci, Troy, NY 12180
USA
US Geol Survey, Flagstaff, AZ 86001 USA
Univ Hawaii, Hawaii Inst Geophys & Planetol, Honolulu, HI 96822 USA
Malin Space Sci Syst, San Diego, CA 92191 USA
Univ Maryland, Dept Astron, College Pk, MD 20742 USA
CALTECH, Jet Prop Lab, Pasadena, CA 91109 USA

Copyright © 2001 Institute for Scientific Information

==========
(19) OBSERVATIONS OF 804 HISPANIA

Calabresi M, Roselli G: The rotation period of 804 Hispania: Some
considerations on its nature
ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS 369 (1): 305-307 APR 2001

Photometric observations of 804 Hispania performed at the Teide Observatory
during the opposition in September 1998 are presented and analyzed. A
rotation period of 7.405 0.010 h was derived. It was possible to confirm
that the lightcurve presents two maxima and minima. We discuss in detail
some considerations on its nature.

Addresses:
Calabresi M, Frasso Sabino Observ, Assoc Roma Astrofili, Casella Postale
4011, I-00100 Rome, Italy
Frasso Sabino Observ, Assoc Roma Astrofili, I-00100 Rome, Italy

Copyright © 2001 Institute for Scientific Information

==============
(20) AND FINALLY: TRADE GROWING IN STOLEN METEORITES

From the BBC News Online, 11 May 2001
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_1324000/1324361.stm

Thieves may be stealing meteorites to order to feed a growing international
trade, a BBC 5Live investigation has revealed.

Collectors are willing to pay vast sums for rare fragments of rock from Mars
or the moon and there is increasing concern that thieves are now stealing
them at their behest.

Meteorites, rock or metal fragments that have fallen to a planet's surface
from space, have long been valued by scientists.

But now they are voraciously sought after by collectors and traders.

A rare piece of lunar meteorite can sell for £20,000 a gram, 3,000 times the
price of gold.

Major thefts

And it is feared high prices and a ready market on the internet are leading
criminals to target meteorites in collections and museums around the world.

The BBC has learned of two major thefts in the past six months in South
Africa and Germany.

Although police do not believe the two crimes were linked, the value of the
stolen material is thought to run to several hundred thousand pounds.

One of the pieces stolen in South Africa is said to be the only fragment of
its kind in the world and has been described as "scientifically priceless".

Police believe items are being stolen to order but fear thieves may be
tempted to break large pieces into smaller fragments which are easily sold
and virtually untraceable.

Copyright 2001, BBC

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