PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet 47/2003 - 29 May 2003


"Maybe here's the real news: Despite all the recent headlines about threats foreign and domestic - killer plagues, global warming, invasive species, sagging economy, rogue asteroids, the fight against fat - Americans seem surprisingly chipper. The Harris Poll not long ago asked: "Are your satisfied with the life you lead?" Fifty-seven percent of Americans answered "very," which qualifies as positively giddy when compared with, say, Greece, where only 11 percent said "very," or France (14 percent) or Finland (26 percent). Still, we must be scared, right? Or have we been bombarded with so many threats that none seems that serious or that real?"
--Rick Montgomery, Knight Ridder, 26 May 2003


"[Brian] Marsden told Space.com that while ESA's SIMONE concept is on the right track in terms of which targets to visit - the five initial asteroids selected range in diameter from 390 meters to 1,100 meters - he doubts that visiting individual rocks would lead to better impact estimates... But where SIMONE can help is in the countermeasure department, Marsden said. The information from each SIMONE probe should give astronomers a plethora of data of the composition, mass and characteristics of a spectrum of asteroids. With enough of that data in hand, astronomers and world leaders could develop the tools and methods necessary to prevent an impending impact."
--Tariq Malik, Space.com, 28 May 2003



(1) A BIG ROLE FOR SMALL SATELLITES IN ASTEROID STUDY
    MSNBC.com, 28 May 2003

(2) NEW DESTINATION FOR ROSETTA, EUROPE'S COMET CHASER
    ESA News, 28 May 2003 science.webmaster@esa.int

(3) MASSIVE TSUNAMI SWEEPS ATLANTIC COAST IN ASTEROID IMPACT SCENARIO
    Ron Baalke info@jpl.nasa.gov

(4) TWO COMETS GRAZE THE SUN
    Paal Brekke pbrekke@esa.nascom.nasa.gov

(5) AUTOMATED TELESCOPE ARRAY DISCOVERIES MOUNT
    Andrew Yee ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca

(6) ORDER OUT OF CHAOS: THE CATASTROPHIC ORIGIN OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM
    Duncan Steel D.I.Steel@salford.ac.uk

(7) WHY SARS IS NOT FROM MARS
    John Michael Williamsj will@AstraGate.net

(8) ICE AGE IMPACT AND THE GREAT FLOOD
    James A. Marusek tunga@custom.net

(9) NEO FORUM IN SYDNEY
    Michael Paine mpaine@tpg.com.au

(10) AND FINALLY: SMILING IN THE FACE OF DANGERS AS AMERICANS SUFFER FROM HYPE FATIGUE
     Knight Ridder, 26 May 2003

=============
(1) A BIG ROLE FOR SMALL SATELLITES IN ASTEROID STUDY

MSNBC.com, 28 May 2003
http://www.msnbc.com/news/919210.asp

Europe's SIMONE project could help scientists learn how to dodge a space rock

By Tariq Malik
SPACE.COM

May 28 -  A handful of small, asteroid-bound satellites could one day help protect our planet from space rocks careless enough to cross paths with Earth as they wander through the Solar System.  

AT PRESENT, researchers with the European Space Agency are evaluating plans to send a five-craft fleet to nearby asteroids and other objects to learn more about their size, shape and inevitable path through our planet's neighborhood. The hope is to develop a better understanding of these rocky neighbors and prepare for the off chance that one will end up heading straight for us.

"Ultimately, this is all driving toward identifying any future physical impacts," the project's science leader, Simon Green, said during a telephone interview. Green is a researcher at the Planetary and Space Sciences Research Institute at Open University in the United Kingdom, which is partnering with the technology group QinetiQ on SIMONE. "You need to learn as much about [near-Earth objects] as you can in order to identify one that might hit."

The project has been dubbed the Smallsat Intercept Missions to Objects Near Earth, or SIMONE. It is one of six low-cost missions considered by the ESA to study space rocks.

With SIMONE, scientists plan to launch five microsatellites into space, each headed to a different asteroid. The cube-shaped probes measure about 3 feet (1 meter) per side and weigh about 264 pounds (120 kilograms).

Once in space, a pair of solar arrays should unfold like wings to generate the electricity needed to run an ion engine, a propulsion system that uses electrically charged particles to push a craft through space. NASA used the propulsion method in its Deep Space 1 mission.
     
Inside the ion drive

"It's a technology that has been around awhile," Andrés Gálvez, head of ESA's Advanced Concepts Team, said of the ion drive. "But SIMONE would be the first time a satellite this small has carried one." 

Ion engines are a wonder when it comes to spacecraft fuel efficiency because they require less fuel than conventional engines, which is exactly why they are planned for the SIMONE project, Gálvez told Space.com. Electricity from the SIMONE's solar panels is expected to ionize xenon gas carried in a small doughnut-shaped tank onboard each of the five probes, allowing the craft enough power to reach, and stay with, near-Earth asteroids.

"Each [SIMONE probe] is a standalone craft," Green said. "So for the sort of budget you'd expect for one large standalone machine, we get five."

ESA researchers estimate the cost of SIMONE at about $186 million (160 million euros) for all five satellites. That includes each SIMONE payload of a multispectral camera for imaging, an X-ray spectrometer to determine an asteroid's composition, a radio science experiment to measure mass, an infrared spectrometer to seek out any minerals and surface details, and a laser altimeter to take topographical measurements.

"There's quite a lot of clever instruments packed aboard these things," Green said.
     
CROSSING PATHS WITH ASTEROIDS

Earth is no stranger to impacts by otherworldly objects. Scientists believe an object the size of a small city slammed into our planet 65 million years ago and led to the extinction of dinosaurs and a crater we now call Chicxulub in the Yucatan Peninsula. 

While that impact was huge, even smaller space rocks can cause devastating effects. In June 1908, a 200-foot-wide (60-meter-wide) asteroid exploded near Russia's Tunguska River in Siberia. The explosion released about 10 megatons of energy, about 500 times that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and flattened the forest for a diameter of 30 miles (50 kilometers).

"We really don't known much about them," Gálvez said of the smaller asteroids that swing by Earth. "Not even how many there are."

NASA researchers estimate that there are between 1,000 and 1,500 asteroids about a half-mile (1 kilometer) in diameter near Earth to worry about. About 640 of them have been found and NASA hopes to have cataloged the bulk of them by 2008.

But some researchers think that looking for large, kilometer-sized space rocks, which impact the planet about once every 100,000 years or so, may be too narrow a search.

"Statistically, we should be concentrating on rocks down around 300 to 200 meters (984 to 656 feet)," said Brian Marsden of the Minor Planet Center at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "We'd need to do it, of course, with much more effort than we do today, and with larger telescopes." Those smaller asteroids hit Earth every millennium or so, with even small chunks impacting every century.
        
RESEARCH INTO COUNTERMEASURES

Marsden told Space.com that while ESA's SIMONE concept is on the right track in terms of which targets to visit - the five initial asteroids selected range in diameter from 390 meters to 1,100 meters - he doubts that visiting individual rocks would lead to better impact estimates. 

"You can find Earth-crossing asteroids from the ground, and it takes time," he added. "It's more an orbital problem which is not going to be done in a mission like this."

But where SIMONE can help is in the countermeasure department, Marsden said. The information from each SIMONE probe should give astronomers a plethora of data of the composition, mass and characteristics of a spectrum of asteroids. With enough of that data in hand, astronomers and world leaders could develop the tools and methods necessary to prevent an impending impact.

"If something is really going to hit us, it isn't going to just go away," Marsden said. "So what are you going to do? Do you try to hit it or break it into pieces? That's where this project becomes useful."
     
SIMONE RIDES SHOTGUN

ESA officials said the compact design of each SIMONE probe means more than just a cheap spacecraft that fits in a box.

"The main point of using a microsatellite is not because we want to do something small," said Gálvez. "It also makes it much easier to find launch opportunities."

In theory, SIMONE should be small enough to be launched as a secondary passenger on the European Ariane 5 rocket, meaning the ESA wouldn't have to pay top dollar for using the launch vehicle. That ability increases the flexibility of the SIMONE concept for use in a variety of other missions as well.

Researchers are already studying the possibility of SIMONE+, a larger spacecraft similar in design to its smaller precursors that could be used for missions to Mars and other planets.

Green said the SIMONE project has yet to progress past the development and study stage, largely due to a lack of funding. With the appropriate funds in hand, he added, SIMONE probes could be launched by 2008 and make their first asteroid rendezvous within a four-year period.
     
© 2003 Space.com. All rights reserved.

=========
(2) NEW DESTINATION FOR ROSETTA, EUROPE'S COMET CHASER

ESA News, 28 May 2003 < science.webmaster@esa.int >

Comet-chasing mission Rosetta will now set its sights on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. During its meeting on 13-14th May 2003, ESA's Science Programme Committee decided Rosetta's new mission baseline. The spacecraft will be launched in February 2004 from Kourou, French Guiana, using an Ariane-5 G+ launcher. The rendezvous with the new target comet is expected in November 2014.

For more information, see:
http://sci.esa.int/content/news/index.cfm?aid=13&cid=36&oid=32381
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

The choice of a new comet has required intensive efforts, including observations by telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope and the ESO Very Large Telescope to ensure we know as much as we can about the new target. The cost of the Rosetta launch delay is estimated at round 70 million Euros. The ESA Ministerial Council has resolved the financial issue by approving financial flexibility at Agency level.

Scientists will now investigate an alternative launch to this comet, in February 2005, as a back-up plan. Rendezvous with the comet is expected in November 2014.

Once again, Europe is set to try to do something no-one has ever done before - to chase and catch a comet.

For more information, please contact:

ESA - Communication Department
Media Relations Office
Paris, France
Tel: +33 (0)1 5369 7155
Fax: +33 (0)1 5369 7690

============
(3) MASSIVE TSUNAMI SWEEPS ATLANTIC COAST IN ASTEROID IMPACT SCENARIO

Ron Baalke < info@jpl.nasa.gov >

http://www.ucsc.edu/news_events/press_releases/text.asp?pid=355

May 27, 2003
Contact: Tim Stephens (831) 459-2495; stephens@ucsc.edu
UC Santa Cruz Press Release

Massive tsunami sweeps Atlantic Coast in asteroid impact scenario
for March 16, 2880

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SANTA CRUZ, CA--If an asteroid crashes into the Earth, it is likely to
splash down somewhere in the oceans that cover 70 percent of the planet's
surface. Huge tsunami waves, spreading out from the impact site like the
ripples from a rock tossed into a pond, would inundate heavily populated
coastal areas. A computer simulation of an asteroid impact tsunami developed
by scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, shows waves as
high as 400 feet sweeping onto the Atlantic Coast of the United States.

The researchers based their simulation on a real asteroid known to be on
course for a close encounter with Earth eight centuries from now. Steven
Ward, a researcher at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at
UCSC, and Erik Asphaug, an associate professor of Earth sciences, report
their findings in the June issue of the Geophysical Journal International.

March 16, 2880, is the day the asteroid known as 1950 DA, a huge rock
two-thirds of a mile in diameter, is due to swing so close to Earth it could
slam into the Atlantic Ocean at 38,000 miles per hour. The probability of a
direct hit is pretty small, but over the long timescales of Earth's history,
asteroids this size and larger have periodically hammered the planet,
sometimes with calamitous effects. The so-called K/T impact, for example,
ended the age of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

"From a geologic perspective, events like this have happened many times in
the past. Asteroids the size of 1950 DA have probably struck the Earth about
600 times since the age of the dinosaurs," Ward said.

Ward and Asphaug's study is part of a general effort to conduct a rational
assessment of asteroid impact hazards. Asphaug, who organized a
NASA-sponsored scientific workshop on asteroids last year, noted that
asteroid risks are interesting because the probabilities are so small while
the potential consequences are enormous. Furthermore, the laws of orbital
mechanics make it possible for scientists to predict an impact if they are
able to detect the asteroid in advance.

"It's like knowing the exact time when Mount Shasta will erupt," Asphaug
said. "The way to deal with any natural hazard is to improve our knowledge
base, so we can turn the kind of human fear that gets played on in the
movies into something that we have a handle on."

Although the probability of an impact from 1950 DA is only about 0.3
percent, it is the only asteroid yet detected that scientists cannot
entirely dismiss as a threat. A team of scientists led by researchers at
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported on the probability of 1950 DA
crossing paths with the Earth in the April 5, 2002, issue of the journal
Science.

"It's a low threat, actually a bit lower than the threat of being hit by an
as-yet-undiscovered asteroid in the same size range over the same period of
time, but it provided a good representative scenario for us to analyze,"
Asphaug said.

For the simulation, the researchers chose an impact site consistent with the
orientation of the Earth at the time of the predicted encounter: in the
Atlantic Ocean about 360 miles from the U.S. coast. Ward summarized the
results as follows:

The 60,000-megaton blast of the impact vaporizes the asteroid and blows a
cavity in the ocean 11 miles across and all the way down to the seafloor,
which is about 3 miles deep at that point. The blast even excavates some of
the seafloor. Water then rushes back in to fill the cavity, and a ring of
waves spreads out in all directions. The impact creates tsunami waves of all
frequencies and wavelengths, with a peak wavelength about the same as the
diameter of the cavity. Because lower-frequency waves travel faster than
waves with higher frequencies, the initial impulse spreads out into a series
of waves.

"In the movies they show one big wave, but you actually end up with dozens
of waves. The first ones to arrive are pretty small, and they gradually
increase in height, arriving at intervals of 3 or 4 minutes," Ward said.

The waves propagate all through the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean. The
waves decay as they travel, so coastal areas closest to the impact get hit
by the largest waves. Two hours after impact, 400-foot waves reach beaches
from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras, and by four hours after impact the entire
East Coast has experienced waves at least 200 feet high, Ward said. It takes
8 hours for the waves to reach Europe, where they come ashore at heights of
about 30 to 50 feet.

Computer simulations not only give scientists a better handle on the
potential hazards of asteroid impacts, they can also help researchers
interpret the geologic evidence of past events, Ward said. Geologists have
found evidence of past asteroid impact tsunamis in the form of inland
sediment deposits and disturbed sediment layers in the seafloor that
correlate with craters, meteorite fragments, and other impact evidence. An
important feature of Ward's simulation is that it enabled him to calculate
the speed of the water flows created by the tsunami at the bottom of the
ocean--more than 3 feet per second out to distances of several hundred miles
from the impact.

"That's like a raging river, so as these waves cross the ocean they're going
to stir up the seafloor, eroding sediments on the slopes of seamounts, and
we may be able to identify more places where this has happened," Ward said.

He added that the waves may also destabilize undersea slopes, causing
landslides that could trigger secondary tsunamis. Ward has also done
computer simulations of tsunamis generated by submarine landslides. He
showed, for example, that the collapse of an unstable volcanic slope in the
Canary Islands could send a massive tsunami toward the U.S. East Coast.

A tsunami warning system has been established for the Pacific Ocean
involving an international effort to evaluate earthquakes for their
potential to generate tsunamis. Ward said that asteroid impact tsunamis
could also be incorporated into such a system.

"Tsunamis travel fast, but the ocean is very big, so even if a small or
moderate-sized asteroid comes out of nowhere you could still have several
hours of advance warning before the tsunami reaches land," he said. "We have
a pretty good handle on the size of the waves that would be generated if we
can estimate the size of the asteroid."

Planetary scientists, meanwhile, are getting a better handle on the risks of
asteroid impacts. A NASA-led campaign to detect large asteroids in
near-Earth orbits is about half way toward its goal of detecting 90 percent
of those larger than 1 kilometer in diameter (the size of 1950 DA) by 2008.

"Until we detect all the big ones and can predict their orbits, we could be
struck without warning," said Asphaug. "With the ongoing search campaigns,
we'll probably be able to sound the 'all clear' by 2030 for 90 percent of
the impacts that could trigger a global catastrophe."

Rogue comets visiting the inner solar system for the first time, however,
may never be detected very long in advance. Smaller asteroids that can still
cause major tsunami damage may also go undetected.

"Those are risks we may just have to live with," Asphaug said.
_____

Notes for reporters (movies, images, additional information):

A movie of the tsunami simulation can be viewed at
http://es.ucsc.edu/~ward/1950-DA(5).mov .

Images can be downloaded from the web at
http://www.ucsc.edu/news_events/download/ .

Reporters may contact Ward at (831) 459-2480 or ward@uplift.ucsc.edu , and
Asphaug at (831) 459-2260 or asphaug@es.ucsc.edu .

Additional information about the asteroid 1950 DA is available at:
http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/1950da/ .

The article by Ward and Asphaug in the Geophysical Journal International is
available online at:
http://es.ucsc.edu/~ward/papers/gji_final_35N.pdf .

=============
(4) TWO COMETS GRAZE THE SUN

Paal Brekke < pbrekke@esa.nascom.nasa.gov >

During a day-long period (mostly May 24, 2003), a pair of comets arced in tandem towards the Sun, their path taking just outside the Sun but clearly through the corona.  These comets belong to the Kreutz family of comets, a group of generally small sun-grazing comets that SOHO has often seen diving towards the Sun.  (In June, 1998 SOHO also observed a pair of comets taking generally the same path towards the Sun)  However, this is the first time that SOHO has observed the what looks like a fainter tail of the comet after it reached its closest approach to the Sun. The track record has shown that they have just disappeared, evaporated by the Sun's intense heat and pressure.  Comets are balls of dust and ice that zoom around space often in elongated orbits.  Their tails, which trail along behind them, are pushed away from the Sun by the solar wind.

These two comest are assigned SOHO 614 and 615 and was first reported by Rainer
Kracht, a German amateur.  In 7 years, SOHO has discovered over 600 comets. This makes the spacecraft the most prolific comet finder in the history of astronomy.

Full story on:
http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/pickoftheweek/

Image credit: SOHO (ESA/NASA)
The LASCO coronagraph on SOHO, designed for seeing outbursts from the Sun, uses a mask to block the bright rays from the visible surface.  It monitors a large volume of surrounding space, and as a result it became the most prolific discoverer of comets in the history of astronomy.  Most of them are small sungrazer comets that burn up completely in the Sun's hot atmosphere.  More than 75% of the discoveries have come from amateur comet hunters around the world watching the freely available SOHO images on the web.

The biggest tallies have come from Mike Oates in England, Rainer Kracht in Germany and Xavier Leprette in France.

More about SOHO and how to view real tome images of the Sun:
http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/
http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/data/realtime-images.html

Regards

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

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,      Email: pbrekke@esa.nascom.nasa.gov
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
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
SOHO WEB: http://soho.nascom.nasa.gov/
PERSONAL WEB: http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/localinfo/brekke.html
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

==========
(5) AUTOMATED TELESCOPE ARRAY DISCOVERIES MOUNT

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

Global Network of Astronomical Telescopes (GNAT)
Tucson, Arizona

Contacts:
Dr. Eric R. Craine, 520-325-4505, craine@gnat.org

Embargoed until 27 May 2003, 12:30 p.m. CDT

AUTOMATED TELESCOPE ARRAY DISCOVERIES MOUNT

Astronomers are announcing today early results of a prototype,
three-telescope array of automated astronomical imagers. These have been
used to discover new Solar System objects, as well as to discover and
monitor the time variable brightness of stars, especially those
potentially harboring extrasolar planets. The report is being presented
today by Dr. Eric R. Craine of the Global Network of Astronomical
Telescopes (GNAT), Tucson, Arizona to the American Astronomical Society
meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. The system is of special interest
because of its very low cost, extremely high data output and application
to myriad astronomical observations.

This array is named the Moving Object and Transient Event Search System
(MOTESS). It was designed by Roy A. Tucker of Goodricke-Pigott
Observatory (GPO), Tucson, Arizona. It was originally implemented for
discovery and astrometric measurement of asteroids, but it is also used
as a large-scale, cost-effective photometric monitoring instrument with
large volume data handling techniques developed under direction of Dr.
Eric R. Craine and Mark S. Giampapa of the National Solar Observatory
(NSO), Tucson, Arizona. The prototype automated MOTESS observatory,
located in Tucson, is a proof-of-principle system for a 48-telescope,
globally distributed network planned by GNAT. During its first two years
of automatic operation, MOTESS has yielded valuable observations of
asteroids as well as stellar variability.

The MOTESS system is both cost-effective and productive. Costs for the
telescope hardware are minimized through "scan-mode" operation, whereby
each telescope in the array is pointed at a specific position in the sky
with respect to the Earth. The view of the sky seen by each telescope
changes by virtue of the rotation of the Earth, thereby scanning the sky
across the field of view of each instrument. With no moving parts in the
hardware system, costs of the prototype system were held at under
$20,000, a fraction of the cost of more traditional, comparable
telescopes. The telescopes make their observations automatically and
continuously throughout the night, and hence remain unattended by human
operators during that time. Since the cameras make one long,
uninterrupted exposure throughout the night, there is no deadtime for
moving the telescopes to new positions or inactivating camera recording
while individual images are read out. Each image has a width nearly
twice the full Moons diameter, and about 10-12 hours of time long, thus
typically covering about 200 square degrees on the sky per night, per
telescope in the array. During the course of a year, the system
typically makes several observations per night of approximately 1.5
million stars, as well as hundreds of asteroids and transient events.

Asteroid searches with the MOTESS system involve acquisition of triplets
of images of select regions of the sky, each telescope contributing one
of the images of the triplet each night. These images are aligned with
respect to one another and they are alternately displayed in software
such that moving objects are visually distinguished from the fixed
background stars. Detection of asteroids as faint as 20-21 magnitude is
possible with this system. During the first year of observation, 290
newly discovered asteroids were measured. Naming rights for over 180 new
asteroids have accrued to the program. Experience with this system is
leading to data handling software which is expected to provide automated
detection of such asteroids.

The MOTESS system is presently accumulating a catalog of three
brightness observations per night of the 1.5 million stars in its
current observing list. These observations are repeated nightly
throughout the year, enabling the creation of long-term light curves for
each of these stars. In the region of the sky along the celestial
equator presently monitored, there are 179 known variable stars, all of
which have been observed. In addition, examination of the light curves
in this database indicate that there are approximately 55,000 newly
discovered variable star candidates. These include stars that vary
periodically, either due to eclipses by companion stars or by intrinsic
internal pulsations, as well as stars which vary irregularly over long
periods of time.

The MOTESS system is a pioneering complement to other planned major
survey instruments, and it is a valuable test-bed for developing
techniques of handling large volumes of specialized astronomical images.
Combined discovery rates of asteroids as well as varyiable stars of many
different types provides analysis opportunities which could occupy
hundreds of students and researchers for many years to come. The flow of
MOTESS data will triple by Spring of 2004 with the implementation of six
more telescopes in the emerging network of scan-mode systems. GNAT is
actively seeking collaborators interested in studying and analyzing
these interesting new objects.

For more information, see:
http://www.gnat.org/~ida/gnat/index.html

IMAGE CAPTION:
[ http://www.gnat.org/~ida/gnat/pr/MOTESS-PR1.JPG ]
The MOTESS prototype system produces continuous images during the course
of each night of observation which, when reproduced with a 30-inch
width, stretch for over 180 yards in length. The inset shows the size of
the Full Moon in one of the images. These images are currently produced
three times during each night of observation and contain images of
nearly 1.5 million stars during the course of a year.

============================
* LETTERS TO THE MODERATOR *
============================

(6) ORDER OUT OF CHAOS: THE CATASTROPHIC ORIGIN OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM

Duncan Steel < D.I.Steel@salford.ac.uk >

Dear Benny,

Readers who are not familiar with the background might want to know that the idea of a supernova triggering the collapse of the nebula from which the sun and the planetary system formed is not a new one. The present report from G. Jeffrey Taylor is extremely interesting, discussing new
isotopic evidence for the time-scale involved and the supernova origin of those short-lived isotopes, but the underlying concept has been around for at least a quarter-century. Taylor himself wrote about the concept in a very readable earlier article:
http://www.psrd.hawaii.edu/Mar00/supernovaDebris.html

In the late 1970s several papers appeared on this subject, stemming from the  research group directed by Gerry Wasserburg at Caltech and colloquially known as the 'Lunatic Asylum'.  For example:

T. Lee, D.A. Papanastassiou & G.J. Wasserburg, "Aluminum-26 in the early solar system - Fossil or fuel" Astrophysical Journal, vol. 211, pp.L107-L110 (1977)

T. Lee, D.A. Papanastassiou & G.J. Wasserburg, "Calcium isotopic anomalies in the Allende meteorite" Astrophysical Journal, vol. 220, pp.L21-L25 (1978)

G.J.Wasserburg,
"INVITED PAPER - Isotope Anomalies in Meteorites: Supernova or Solar Origin?" Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, Vol. 10, p.670 (1978)

G.J. Wasserburg, D.A. Papanastassiou & T. Lee, "Isotopic heterogeneities in the solar system - Special report" In: The elements and their isotopes in the universe; 22nd International Conference on Astrophysics, Universite de Liege, Belgium, pp.203-253 (1979)

A considerable media furor surrounded the announcement in 1977/78 of the hypothesis of a supernova triggering the formation of the solar system, and I recall a feature article in New Scientist magazine. I also recall Wasserburg being listed as one of the "Quotes of the Week" in the Observer (London) newspaper, some time in 1979, saying that "Something went off with one hell of a bang just before the solar system formed."

Regards,

Duncan Steel

===========
(7) WHY SARS IS NOT FROM MARS

John Michael Williamsj <will@AstraGate.net>

Hi Benny.

> BBC News Online, 23 May 2003
> http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2931246.stm
>
> ... Professor
> Chandra Wickramasinghe of Britain's Cardiff University, say the
> Sars coronavirus is so unlike other viruses that an
> extra-terrestrial origin is logical.
>
> However, a number of Sars experts believe the theory itself
> seems to have come from another planet.
>
> The idea that Sars comes from the stars relates to a theory
> called panspermia. This says that life itself evolved somewhere
> out in the cosmos, and is carried from one planet to another on
> comets. ...

As I think these articles point out, this idea is not tenable.

First, the SARS virus has been identified, its DNA has been mapped, and it is found to be a commonplace corona virus, the same as the one causing the common cold. It originated on Earth by a slight mutation.

Second, the "space" between the planets is so inhospitable to life that no virus could survive the trip. It is true that some worms survived reentry during the Columbia Space Shuttle debacle, but they never were beyond Earth's gravity (the "Space" Shuttle actually orbits in the upper atmosphere, not in space). They apparently survived about one minute of sudden heating. They were protected from cosmic and Solar radiation by the Van Allen radiation belts, created by the Earth's magnetic field.

SARS can't survive a week in air; it would be dried out and killed immediately in a moderate
vacuum, even with no irradiation.

Third, As I have shown in previous CCNet postings, there is no possibility that ANYTHING other than a hot gas or cloud of dust could be ejected from a planet the size of Mars.  So, no planet capable of maintaining an atmosphere supportive of life could eject anything for a comet to pick up.  Ejection from a planet the size of Venus or Earth is completely out of line.

A parsec is about 3 light-years. At an optimistic speed of 10 km/s, about 10^-4 the speed of light, it would take over 10^4 years -- over 10 thousand years -- to travel the average distance of 1 parsec between two stars. This assumes perfect launch velocity alignment.  Cosmic irradiation would sterilize any rock to a depth of meters during this time.

In my opinion, "Panspermia" at best is a poorly thought through idea, and at worst is a hoax to sell meteorites before NASA can get anything back from Mars. I have presented my own derivation of this at http://publish.aps.org/eprint/gateway/eplist/aps1999jun25_002 , but others have raised the same question.
--
                         John
                     jwill@AstraGate.net
                     John Michael Williams

==============
(8) ICE AGE IMPACT AND THE GREAT FLOOD

James A. Marusek < tunga@custom.net >

Hello Benny and CCNet
  
Just posted a theory on the cause of the Biblical Great Flood at: http://personals.galaxyinternet.net/tunga/Flood.htm   The theory proposes that a large comet or asteroid impact in a glacier ice sheet produced the Great Flood which brought the last Ice Age to an abrupt and sudden end.

       James A. Marusek

============
(9) NEO FORUM IN SYDNEY

Michael Paine < mpaine@tpg.com.au >

Dear Benny,

Below are details of a NEO forum to be held in Sydney in July.
regards
Michael Paine

-----------
http://www.mso.anu.edu.au/~iauxxv/events.shtml
IAU Symposium, Sydney, 2003: Thursday July 17 - 7.00 pm - Public forum with Dr Alan Harris from the Space Science Institute Colorado, Dr Andrea Milani from the University of Pisa and Dr David Morrison from the NASA Ames Research Center on "The Danger from Space: Are Near Earth Objects a
Catastrophe Waiting to Happen?" at the Darling Harbour Convention Centre. Talk moderated by Karl Kruszelnicki.

http://www.nelsonbay.com/~gc/AMPW.htm
Australian Minor Planet Workshop, Nelson Bay 25-27 July.

===========
(10) AND FINALLY: SMILING IN THE FACE OF DANGERS AS AMERICANS SUFFER FROM HYPE FATIGUE

Knight Ridder, 26 May 2003
http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0526hypefatigue26.html

'Whatever' is now the attitude of Americans
Smiling the norm in face of dangers

Rick Montgomery
Knight Ridder

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Got hype fatigue?

SARS. Orange alerts. Mad cow in Canada. West Nile mosquitoes hatching in your gutters.

Now this, according to Britain's Astronomer Royal:

"I think the odds are no better than 50-50 that our present civilization on Earth will survive to the end of the present century," Martin Rees writes in a new book merrily titled Our Final Hour.

"Whatever," you say.

Hype fatigue.

"They serve up the scare of the week, take your pick, and people wonder, 'What are they going to throw at us next?'" said Benjamin Radford, author of a forthcoming book about myth-making in the media.

It's the 21st century, and Chicken Little is big. War in Iraq and tornadoes in Kansas City are not terrifying enough; beware the multitude of invisible menaces.

Real news

Maybe here's the real news: Despite all the recent headlines about threats foreign and domestic - killer plagues, global warming, invasive species, sagging economy, rogue asteroids, the fight against fat - Americans seem surprisingly chipper.

Only 8 percent are "very worried" that they or their families will become victims of terrorism, according to a recent Gallup Poll. Go figure that in 1996, a year after the Oklahoma City bombing, worry rates on terrorism were much higher.

The Harris Poll not long ago asked: "Are your satisfied with the life you lead?" Fifty-seven percent of Americans answered "very," which qualifies as positively giddy when compared with, say, Greece, where only 11 percent said "very," or France (14 percent) or Finland (26 percent).

Still, we must be scared, right? Or have we been bombarded with so many threats that none seems that serious or that real?

Becoming immune

"Have we somehow become immune?" asked Carroll Doherty of the Pew Center for the People and the Press, a polling organization. "Even with these terrorist attacks on Westerners overseas, there's only so many times the public can raise its own concerns.

"I think there may be a fatigue factor."

Think duct tape.

In a culture of hype, horror stories and self-help, it was bound to happen. The federal government in February suddenly raised the terror-alert level from yellow to orange. The news media clanged the alarm.

The public asked, "Now what should we do?"

Pause. Duct tape and sheets of plastic.

And in an instant, Americans realized there really was not much they could do.

"It's all well and good to raise alarms, but what do you want us to do about it?" said Radford, who edits Skeptical Inquirer magazine, a periodical that questions the less than likely. "With the vast majority of these crises, there is no good answer.

"Sometimes things just happen. Sometimes not everything can be controlled."

Now that's scary, for we are a people who covet control. We list objectives and set goals. We read books on how to parent. We take pills to fix our moods.

And things just happen?

Some people feel helpless when dark clouds approach; others just shrug. Both reactions trouble Nancy Snow, a professor and author.

"Our culture is a lot more fragmented today; we're not as closely aligned with our neighbors," said Snow, who teaches communications at California State University. "There's no Civil Defense network in which regular people can channel their anxieties, as they did in World War II," she said. "We just stay in our homes, watch TV and cross our fingers."

Copyright 2003, Knight Ridder

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