PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet 118/2002 - 9 October 2002
-------------------------------


"Lack of money has so far prevented Russian scientists to send an
expedition to the presumed site of a meteorite fall in Siberia on
Thursday, a senior scientist said. "Specialists have no doubt that it
is a meteorite that fell into the taiga on Thursday," Vladimir Polyakov,
academic secretary of the Institute of Solar and Terrestrial Physics, told
Interfax. Polyakov said there were more than 100 eyewitnesses and that
scientists trusted them. He said instruments rarely recorded meteorite
falls and so eyewitnesses were practically the only source of information
on such events for scientists. He cited hunters as saying the
supposed meteorite had left a large crater surrounded by burned forest."
--Interfax, 4 October 2002


"Astronomers at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy
(IfA) have been awarded a $3.4 million grant by the Air Force Research
Laboratories to design a new observatory to survey the entire sky and
detect very faint objects. The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid
Response System (Pan-STARRS) is currently conceived of as an array of small
telescopes, and sites on either the Big Island or on Maui are being
considered. Planned to become operational in 2006, Pan-STARRS will be more
powerful for survey work than all existing telescopes combined. A
major goal of the project is to identify and track asteroids that might
collide with Earth."
--University of Hawaii, 7 October 2002


(1) HUGE BOOST TO NEO PROGRAMME AS U.S. AIR FORCE FUND NEW POWERFUL SEARCH
TELESCOPES
    Ron Baalke <baalke@jpl.nasa.gov>

(2) SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY SHOULD HELP FUND RUSSIAN EXPEDITION TO SIBERIAN
IMPACT SITE
    BBC News Online, 8 October 2002

(3) RUSSIAN SCIENTISTS UNABLE TO VISIT PRESUMED IMPACT SITE
    Interfax, 4 October 2002

(4) WESTERNERS REPORT GREEN, PURPLE FLAMING METEOR
    CNN, 7 October 2002

(5) SCIENTISTS BELIEVE SPECTACULAR METEOR BROKE APART OVER NW COLORADO
    The Associated Press, 8 October 2002

(6) BEYOND PLUTO
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(7) U.S. HOUSE PANEL APPROVES $15.3 BILLION NASA BUDGET
    Space.com, 8 October 2002

(8) INCREASED NASA BUDGET RECOMMENDED TO FUND MISSION TO PLUTO
    The Planetary Society <tps@planetary.org>

(9) ON THE 45TH ANNIVERSARY OF SPUTNIK: WHERE IS THE SPACE ODYSSEY?
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(10) RE: OCEANIC IMPACTS AND THE P-T BOUNDARY EXTINCTION
     Andrew Glikson <geospec@webone.com.au>

(11) AND FINALLY: SMALL ASTEROID IMPACTS LESS THAN EXPECTED (IF YOU FIDDLE
THE DATA)
     Ron Baalke <baalke@jpl.nasa.gov>


================
(1) HUGE BOOST TO NEO PROGRAMME AS U.S. AIR FORCE FUND NEW POWERFUL SEARCH
TELESCOPES

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

http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/~kaiser/pan-starrs/pressrelease/

For Immediate Release, Tuesday, October 8, 2002
University of Hawaii

CONTACTS:
Dr. Nicholas Kaiser 808-956-6898 kaiser@ifa.hawaii.edu
Dr. Rolf-Peter Kudritzki 808-956-8566 kudritzki@ifa.hawaii.edu
Mrs. Karen Rehbock 808-956-8566 rehbock@ifa.hawaii.edu

UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII ASTRONOMERS TO DEVELOP NEW TELESCOPES FOR "KILLER
ASTEROID" SEARCH

Astronomers at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy (IfA) have
been awarded a $3.4 million grant by the Air Force Research Laboratories to
design a new observatory to survey the entire sky and detect very faint
objects. The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System
(Pan-STARRS) is currently conceived of as an array of small telescopes, and
sites on either the Big Island or on Maui are being considered. Planned to
become operational in 2006, Pan-STARRS will be more powerful for survey work
than all existing telescopes combined. A major goal of the project is to
identify and track asteroids that might collide with Earth.

Commenting on the project, IfA Director Rolf Kudritzki said, "I am pleased
that the Institute will be able to play an important role in finding these
hazardous asteroids that threaten humanity."

Exploiting recent advances in electronic detector technology, Pan-STARRS
will have revolutionary optical sensors with billions of pixels, or picture
elements. The IfA is collaborating with Lincoln Laboratories of the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to develop the advanced
detectors.

The telescopes will have a very large field of view, allowing them to image
an area about 30-40 times that of the full moon in a single exposure. The
system will rapidly survey large areas of the sky, making it uniquely
powerful for detecting transient objects such as supernovae, and for
detecting moving objects, such as asteroids.

Once operational, Pan-STARRS will generate huge quantities of data. To
process these, the IfA astronomers have teamed up with the Maui High
Performance Computer Center (MHPCC), and with Science Applications
International Corporation (SAIC), a leader in the field of massive
databases.

The huge database generated by Pan-STARRS will be made available over the
Internet so that others may use it for education and research. Kudritzki
commented that the Pan-STARRS database will be "a unique opportunity for
education."

The currently favored design is an array of four relatively small
telescopes. This would permit rapid construction, and would have a small
environmental impact, because the system would be very compact. In fact, one
possibility being explored is to house the system within the university's
existing telescope building on Mauna Kea.

The IfA is working closely with the Office of Mauna Kea Management, and in
accord with the design review process set out in the Mauna Kea Science
Reserve Master Plan, to develop a design that minimizes environmental and
cultural impacts.

The data from Pan-STARRS will be used to address many scientific questions,
ranging from the origin of the Solar System to the properties of the
Universe on the largest scales. However, a major goal of the project is to
make an inventory of potentially dangerous asteroids.

It is now widely recognized that a collision with a large asteroid was
responsible for the mass extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago,
and that more frequent collisions with smaller asteroids present a real
hazard. Fatal asteroid collisions are rare, but when they happen they can be
very destructive. In fact, experts have determined that, averaged over time,
the risk of dying from an asteroid strike is approximately that of dying in
a plane crash. A number of recent widely publicized close encounters with
asteroids have highlighted the risk.

Congress has charged NASA to support searches for "killer asteroids." These
surveys determine the orbits of the asteroids that they discover, and then
project them forward to see if they will impact Earth. Pan-STARRS principal
investigator Nick Kaiser comments that "current surveys have detected
roughly half of the objects bigger than a mile in diameter. Impacts of this
size cause global-scale catastrophes. Pan-STARRS will help complete this
task and will extend the search to much smaller objects."

The Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii conducts research
into galaxies, cosmology, stars, planets, and the Sun. Its faculty and staff
are also involved in astronomy education, deep space missions, and in the
development and management of the observatories on Haleakala and Mauna Kea.
Refer to http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/ for more information about the
Institute.

==========
(2) SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY SHOULD HELP FUND RUSSIAN EXPEDITION TO SIBERIAN
IMPACT SITE

>From BBC News Online, 8 October 2002
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2309117.stm

Cash plea for Russian meteor chasers

By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor 
 
Scientists investigating what is believed to be a "significant" fresh meteor
crater in a remote part of Siberia are begging for funds to mount an
expeditiion.

A British meteorite expert has called on the international scientific
community to help Russian scientists get to the impact site, which may be of
major scientific importance.

Hunters in the region say they have seen a large crater surrounded by burned
forest.

According to Vladimir Polyakov, of the Institute of Solar and Terrestrial
Physics in Moscow, "Specialists have no doubt that it is a meteorite that
fell into the taiga on Thursday."

Middle-power Earthquake

Polyakov says there were more than 100 eyewitnesses to the event. He added
that scientists believed them. He said instruments rarely recorded meteorite
falls and so eyewitnesses were practically the only source of information
for such events.

Kirill Levi, vice-director of the Earth Crust Institute in Siberia, says,
"the seismic monitoring station located near the event site recorded the
moment of impact recording seismic waves comparable to a middle-power
earthquake."

Vladimir Polyakov says it is impossible to send a state-funded expedition to
the site, which lies in Bodaibo district, Irkutsk region, without approval
from the Meteorite Studies Center in Moscow.

Bodaibo residents say they witnessed the fall of a very large, luminous
body, which looked like a huge boulder.

No funds

Scientists in Irkutsk scientists have sent a report to Moscow along with a
request for funds to mount an expedition but had had no reply.

According to Benny Peiser of Liverpool John Moores University: "We appear to
be dealing with a significant impact event."

He told BBC News Online, "It is imperative that US and UK funding bodies
support our Russian colleagues in their investigation of the Siberian
impact.

"The resources required for sending a scientific expedition to the epicentre
of the event would be very moderate but could yield vital information about
the impact threat that concerns every citizen of the world."

Copyright 2002, BBC

===========
(3) RUSSIAN SCIENTISTS UNABLE TO VISIT PRESUMED IMPACT SITE

>From Interfax, 4 October 2002
[ http://www.interfax.ru/show_one_news.html?lang=EN&tz=0&tz_format=MSK&id_news=5598245 ]

Friday, October 4, 2002, 18:03 GMT

IRKUTSK (Interfax) -- Lack of money has so far prevented Russian scientists
to send an expedition to the presumed site of a meteorite fall in Siberia on
Thursday, a senior scientist said.

"Specialists have no doubt that it is a meteorite that fell into the taiga
on Thursday," Vladimir Polyakov, academic secretary of the Institute of
Solar and Terrestrial Physics, told Interfax.

Polyakov said there were more than 100 eyewitnesses and that scientists
trusted them. He said instruments rarely recorded meteorite falls and so
eyewitnesses were practically the only source of information on such events
for scientists.

He cited hunters as saying the supposed meteorite had left a large crater
surrounded by burned forest.

He said it was impossible to send a state-funded expedition to the site,
which lies in Bodaibo district, Irkutsk region, without approval from the
Meteorite Studies Center in Moscow. Irkutsk scientists had sent a report
there but had had no reply.

One problem is that the presumed meteorite fell in a place difficult of
access, which only a helicopter can reach.

Polyakov said scientists were fearing the meteorite was a lump of ice that
would melt away before an expedition came.

© 2002 Interfax. All rights reserved.

=======
(4) WESTERNERS REPORT GREEN, PURPLE FLAMING METEOR

>From CNN, 7 October 2002
http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/West/10/07/meteor.sighting.ap/

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) -- Residents in Utah, Colorado and southern
Wyoming saw a fireball, which some said had a long tail of green, orange and
purple flames that raced across the night sky.

"People said it had a 500-foot tail and it was huge, like a meteor, and
green and orange," La Plata County, Colorado, sheriff's dispatcher Kristy
Lee said.

The fireball was seen Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

"It was probably a meteor burning up in the atmosphere," said Peter
Wilensky, meteorologist with the National Weather Service/Colorado Basin
River Forecast Center.

No man-made objects fell from space Sunday night, said Maj. Ed Thomas, a
spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado
Springs, Colorado, which tracks satellites and space debris.

"We don't have a mission to track meteorites, but that's got to be what it
is," Thomas said.

The Weber Area Consolidated Dispatch Center in northern Utah received about
50 calls, with some callers saying it looked like a plane that crashed.
About 10 officers from three counties responded to the calls and at one
point searched for wreckage, said Weber County sheriff's Sgt. Jeff Lasater.

The fireball was spotted in Pueblo, Colorado, about 100 miles south of
Denver, and in Rawlins, Wyoming, about 180 miles northwest of Denver.

Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

===========
(5) SCIENTISTS BELIEVE SPECTACULAR METEOR BROKE APART OVER NW COLORADO

>From The Associated Press, 8 October 2002
http://www.nj.com/newsflash/national/index.ssf?/cgi-free/getstory_ssf.cgi?a0903_BC_Fireball&&news&newsflash-national

By KATHERINE VOGT

DENVER (AP) -- Scientists believe a meteor broke apart over northwestern
Colorado after giving people in at least three states a fabulous light show.


The glowing object with a green and orange tail was visible Sunday evening
across Colorado, southeastern Utah and southern Wyoming. More than 600
sightings -- some from as far as Idaho and Kansas -- have been reported to
the meteorite research team at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

"You had this great green fireball and tail with orange sparks coming off of
it," said Howard Cook, the museum's chief technologist, who saw the meteor
for eight to 20 seconds while driving.

Scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico detected
sonic evidence of Sunday's meteor, lab spokesman James Rickman said.

Fragments of space debris become meteors when they enter the atmosphere.
Pieces that make it to the ground are called meteorites.

Jack Murphy, curator of geology at the Denver museum, said it will be
difficult for people to find the newly fallen space rocks in Colorado's
rugged, sparsely populated terrain.

"If they see a black rock that looks very out of place that wasn't there
before, then they might have found a freshly fallen meteorite," he said.

------
On the Net:
Denver Museum: http://www.dmns.org

Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

===========
(6) BEYOND PLUTO

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

Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie
Bonn, Germany

Contact:

Dr. Frank Bertoldi
Tel.: +49 - 228 - 525-377  or  +49 - 179 - 8567872
Fax:  +49 - 228 - 525-229
e-mail: bertoldi@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de

Dr. Wilhelm Altenhoff
Tel.:+49 - 228 - 525-293
Fax:+49 - 228 - 525-229
e-mail: waltenhoff@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de

Dr. Norbert Junkes (MPIfR  public outreach)
Fax: +49 - 2257 -  301-105
e-mail: njunkes@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de

Press Release: 7 October 2002

PRI (MPIfR) 10/02 (2)

Beyond Pluto: Max-Planck radioastronomers measure the sizes of distant minor
planets

Scientists at the Max-Planck-Institute for Radioastronomy (MPIfR) in Bonn
were able to determine the diameters of four of the five largest and most
distant minor planets in our solar system. The largest of them was
discovered last June by planetary scientists of the California Institute of
Technology (Caltech), who named their object "Quaoar" after a creation myth
of the Californian native Tongva people. The radio observations of the Bonn
astronomers and their Californian colleagues show that Quaoar has a diameter
of 1250 km, making it the largest object discovered in the solar system
since the discovery of Pluto in 1930.

Minor planets are usually discovered as slowly moving unresolved sources in
optical sky photographs taken with astronomical telescopes. Drs. Frank
Bertoldi and Wilhelm Altenhoff from the MPIfR recently used the IRAM
30-meter telescope in Spain to measure the thermal radiation of
four of the optically brightest minor planets. From the measured intensity
they could derive their sizes, which range between 700 and 1200 km (see
table below). On October 7 their Caltech colleagues presented their
discovery of Quaoar at the annual meeting of the Planetary Sciences Division
of the American Astronomical Society, which is held in Birmingham, Alabama.
There they also present a direct size measurement of Quaoar from optical
images obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope. This unique and first such
observation confirms the prior radio size measurement.

The four minor planets are members of a ring of some 100,000 objects in the
outskirts of the solar system, beyond Pluto at distances over 4 billion km
from the sun, over 30 times the distance between earth and sun. The objects
in this "Kuiper belt" circle the sun in stable orbits with periods of about
300 years. In the mid of last century, the existence of a ring of small
planetisemals was first suggested by the astronomers Kenneth Edgeworth
(1880-1972) and Gerard P. Kuiper (1905-1973), but the first discovery of an
"Edgeworth-Kuiper belt object" (EKO) was not until 1992. By now, over 550
EKOs are known.

A direct size determination of an EKO had not been possible until recently
due to the large distance of these small objects. However, using the IRAM
30-m telescope and MAMBO, a very sensitive heat sensor built at the MPIfR in
Bonn, the Bonn scientists were able to measure the very weak thermal
radiation emerging from the four large EKOs.

"The velocity with which a distant solar system object moves reveals its
distance," explains Dr. Frank Bertoldi. "From that we can compute the
objects' surface temperature, which is mostly given by the solar
irradiation. The intensity of the heat radiation we receive from the EKO
depends on its distance, temperature, and size, so knowing the distance and
temperature, we find its size. On the other hand, the optical brightness of
the object, which is simply reflected sunlight, does not tell us much about
its size, because the very low surface reflectivity may vary significantly
from object to object." 

"The discovery of two large EKOs by our American colleagues this year is
impressive and important," admits Dr. William Altenhoff, who has researched
minor planets and comets for decades. "In the coming years I expect the
discovery of many more and even larger of such objects. What is interesting
to us is to find out the extend of the Kuiper belt, and particularly what
the total mass of all the EKOs together might be. This would allow unique
insights into the origin of our solar system. The EKOs are the debris from
its formation, an archeaological site containing prestine remnants of the
solar nebula, from which the sun and the planets formed. A determination of
the size and reflectivity of some of the EKOs enables us to estimate also
the total mass of the many smaller EKOs, which are too small to measure
their individual sizes."

The observations at millimeter wavelengths were made using the IRAM 30-meter
telescope at Pico Veleta near Granada in Spain (Fig. 2). The sensitive
bolometer detector MAMBO (Fig. 3) used here was developed and built at the
MPIfR in Bonn by the group of Dr. Ernst Kreysa. The Institute for Radio
Astronomy at Millimeter wavelengths (IRAM) is supported jointly by the
German Max-Planck-Society, the French Centre National de Recherche
Scientifique (CNRS) and the Spanish Instituto Geografico Nacional.

The five largest Edgeworth-Kuiper-Belt objects known

[NOTE: Original table is at
http://www.mpifr-bonn.mpg.de/staff/bertoldi/kbo/pr_kbo_e.html]

Name     Solar      Diameter  Reflec-   measured by     using
        distance              tivity

Quaoar     42 au    1250 +/-   12%     Brown, Trujillo   HST
                     50 km
                    1200 +/-           Bertoldi, Brown,  IRAM 30m
                     200 km            Trujillo, Margot
                                           

Ixion      43 au    1055 +/-    9%     Altenhoff,        IRAM 30m
(2001KX76)           165 km            Bertoldi

Varuna     43 au     900 +/-    7%     Jewitt, Aussel,   JCMT
                      140 km           Evans

2002AW197  48 au     890 +/-   10%     Margot, Brown,    IRAM 30m
                      120 km           Trujillo, Bertoldi

1999TC36   31 au     675 +/-  3.5%     Altenhoff,        IRAM 30m
                      100 km           Bertoldi

Remarks:

* JCMT = James-Clerk-Maxwell Teleskop, Hawaii
* HST = Hubble Space Telescope
* au = "astronomical unit" = average earth-sun distance,
       ca. 150 million km.
* Ixion: Greek mythology, a Thesalian king who was tied to a
  wheel as punishment for advancing Hera


Further information on the internet:

* Discovery of Quaoar by Mike Brown und Chad Trujillo
  http://www.gps.caltech.edu/~chad/quaoar/
* Size determination of 2002AW197
  http://www.gps.caltech.edu/%7Emargot/posters/dps02.jpg
* Hubble Space Telescope size determination of Quaoar
  http://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/PR/2002/17/pr.html
* Annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the
  American Astronomical Society
  http://csem.engin.umich.edu/dps/
* David Jewitt's Kuiper Belt Page
  http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/faculty/jewitt/kb.html
* MPIfR Bonn
  http://www.mpifr-bonn.mpg.de/
* MAMBO detector
  http://www.mpifr-bonn.mpg.de/staff/bertoldi/mambo/
* IRAM 30m telescope
  http://www.iram.es/
* Website of the Tongva people
  http://www.tongva.com/

IMAGE CAPTIONS:

[Figure 1:
http://www.mpifr-bonn.mpg.de/staff/bertoldi/kbo/vergleich-e1.jpg (26KB)]
The newly discovered EKO Quaoar, compared in size with Pluto,
the Moon, and Earth. (image credit: NASA)

[Figure 2:
http://www.mpifr-bonn.mpg.de/staff/bertoldi/kbo/iram30m.jpg (15KB)]
The IRAM 30-m radio telescope in the Spanish Sierra Nevada,
near Granada.

[Figure 3:
http://www.mpifr-bonn.mpg.de/staff/bertoldi/kbo/mambo.jpg (17KB)]
The Max-Planck-Millimeter-Bolometer (MAMBO) 37-element array
detector for observations at millimeter wavelengths. The
physical diameter of the hexagonal horn array is ca. 4 cm.

===========
(7) U.S. HOUSE PANEL APPROVES $15.3 BILLION NASA BUDGET
 
>From Space.com, 8 October 2002
http://www.space.com/news/astronotes-1.html

WASHINGTON - A House budget panel approved Oct. 7 a $15.3 billion budget for
NASA for 2003. The amount is $300 million more than the White House had
requested for the U.S. space agency.

The House Appropriations Veteran's Affairs, Housing and Urban Development
and Independent Agencies subcommittee followed the lead of the U.S. Senate
by including $105 million for a Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission that NASA has
sought to cancel. House appropriators also included $40 million for a
mission to Europa, another expedition cancelled by NASA in advance of
establishing the New Frontiers outer plants exploration program.

The House version of the bill is scheduled to be taken up by the full
Appropriations Committee Oct. 10.

Once the bill is approved by the House, a conference will be convened with
Senate appropriators to work out differences between the two spending bills.

Copyright 2002, Space.com

==========
(8) INCREASED NASA BUDGET RECOMMENDED TO FUND MISSION TO PLUTO

>From The Planetary Society  <tps@planetary.org>

STATEMENT

The Planetary Society
65 N. Catalina Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91106-2301 (626) 793-5100 Fax (626)
793-5528 E-mail: tps@planetary.org  Web: http://planetary.org

For Immediate Release: October 8, 2002                         
Contact: Susan Lendroth

Planetary Society Applauds Recommendation to Increase NASA Budget to Fund
Pluto-Kuiper Belt and Europa Missions

The Planetary Society applauds the recommendation by the House Sub-Committee
on Appropriations for VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies to increase the NASA
budget to enable the Pluto-Kuiper Belt, New Horizons, mission to proceed and
to re-start development of a Europa orbiter.  

The Society has long advocated both missions, demonstrating its support in
testimony to the House Sub-Committee and in member letters to Congress.

"The support of Congress and the public interest in Pluto, the Kuiper Belt,
and Europa, have been steadfast," said Louis Friedman, Executive Director of
The Planetary Society. "We hope this latest recommendation will end the
Administration's opposition to new missions for outer planet exploration."

Friedman noted that the recent discovery of a large planet-like object
located beyond the orbit of Pluto in the Kuiper Belt heightens interest in
that region of space even more.

"There is still so much out there in our solar system to be discovered and
revealed," said Friedman. 

The Senate Appropriations Committee has already added funds for the
Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission to the budget.  The House also added funding for
the Europa mission that had been cancelled by the Administration.  This will
have to be resolved in conference with the Senate, which did not include
such funding.

The Europa orbiter would launch later in the decade, after the Pluto-Kuiper
Belt mission.  There is strong evidence that Europa has an ocean beneath its
icy surface, and the Europa mission would determine the location and
distribution of this ocean in order to pursue the notion that this ocean
might harbor extraterrestrial life.

The fiscal year 2003 NASA budget will not be finalized until passage of the
bill in the House Appropriations Committee is followed by approval of the
mission by the full Congress.   That budget has not yet been acted upon.  

For the past two years, The Planetary Society has led the public campaign
for exploration of the outer solar system, especially in regards to missions
to Pluto and Europa.  For more information, go to the Society's Pluto
Campaign page at
http://www.planetary.org/html/UPDATES/Pluto/pluto_europa_action.html.

CONTACT INFORMATION:
For more information, contact Susan Lendroth at (626) 793-5100 or by e-mail
at susan.lendroth@planetary.org.

THE PLANETARY SOCIETY:
Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded The Planetary Society in
1980 to advance the exploration of the solar system and to continue the
search for extraterrestrial life. With members in over 125 countries, the
Society is the largest space interest group in the world.

The Planetary Society
65 N. Catalina Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91106-2301
Tel:  (626) 793-5100
Fax:  (626) 793-5528
E-Mail:  tps@planetary.org
Web: http://planetary.org

=============
(9) ON THE 45TH ANNIVERSARY OF SPUTNIK: WHERE IS THE SPACE ODYSSEY?

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

[ http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20021007-042001-2637r ]

Monday, October 7, 2002, 6:26 PM CDT

NBO space odyessy since sputnik
By MARTIN SIEFF, UPI Senior News Analyst

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- This past week marked the 45th anniversary of the Start
of the Space Age. But where's the Space Odyssey?

In the first week of October 1957, an enormous Soviet R-7 booster blasted
the world's first ever artificial satellite, Sputnik I, into orbit around
the earth at a speed of 18,000 miles per hour. Only 12 years later, two
Americans, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, walked on the surface of the
Moon, the first human beings ever to do so.

Today, our technological capacity is far in excess of what it was in those
days. Scores of millions of homes across the world have personal computers
that make the sinister, paranoid HAL in "2001: A Space Odyssey" look like a
grumpy, old fool. Any home with a post-1995 personal computer and software
has greater computing capacity than the entire Soviet or U.S. space programs
enjoyed as late as 1966. Space shuttles have plied between Cape Canaveral
and low earth orbit for 20 years and low-orbit space stations a quarter of a
century old.

But it will be at least 20 years and probably longer before great big
spinning wheel space stations generating their own artificial gravity 22,000
miles out will be any more than a pipe dream. No human being has walked on
the surface of the moon for almost 30 years since December 1972. And at
least 20 years may elapse before the first manned mission to Mars is
launched.

A full 45 years after Sergei Korolev, the legendary chief designer of the
Soviet space program, lofted Sputnik I into the heavens to beat out the more
leisurely and problem-plagued U.S. Vanguard satellite program, Korolev's
vision of mankind exploring the Solar System appears far
further from realization than it did a generation ago.

The dazzling progress of the first 15 years of the Space Age from 1957, when
the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I, to the last Apollo moon landing was
followed by nearly three decades of energetic low orbit economic and
scientific exploitation of space. But only a handful of
unmanned space probes, all too many of them with shoddy equipment or
programming flaws, have braved deeper space since. What went wrong?
Ironically, famed comic book author Stan Lee probably got it right sooner
than anyone else back in 1968, at the very brilliant height of the
Space Race.

It was the same year that the U.S. spacecraft Apollo 8 took the greatest
single leap into the unknown in human history. It carried astronauts Frank
Borman, James Lovell and Bill Anders a quarter of a million miles further
than where any human had gone before to orbit the Moon and see
its dark side for the first time with the naked eye.

Yet Lee wrote about a mythical space-faring civilization in the first issue
of his classic "Silver Surfer" comic. "We had gone too far -- seen too much!
And then -- we no longer cared. We of Zenn-La returned to our mother world
-- never to venture forth again! For us, the age of space travel had died -- never
to be born again."

It was the prescient obituary for both the U.S. and Soviet space programs.
It has long been a commonplace cliché to say that the Moon landing and the
early, heroic era of space exploration was only made possible by the height
of the Cold War and the desperate race for global prestige
between the United States and the Soviet Union.

That of course, is true, but the human factor of a handful of visionary
political leaders and scientists in both nations also played a crucial role.

Cautious old President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the United States and Soviet
dictator Josef Stalin were both interested in rockets as weapons, and
weapons only. They showed no interest in the manned conquest of space. But
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, the first great political visionary of the
Space Age, was very different. It was he who gave Korolev the political
backing he needed and access to the vital resources, over-ruling both
skittish Politburo members and sneering, skeptical scientific bureaucrats.

The result was a string of dazzling successes from Sputnik I through Yuri
Gagarin, the first human being in space in 1961 even to the first space walk
by Sergei Alexei Leonov. As a result, the Soviet Union catapulted to the
greatest global prestige and popularity in its history, eclipsing even that
won by its colossal defeat of Nazi Germany in the 1941-45 Great Patriotic
War.

Only when President John F. Kennedy succeeded Eisenhower in 1961, was
Khrushchev matched by a similar visionary in the United States. It was
Kennedy who responded to the Soviet triumph of Gagarin's flight by pledging
to send a man to the Moon by the end of the decade. And after his
death, the pace of American space exploration actually accelerated as
another can-do visionary, Lyndon Baines Johnson, replaced Kennedy in the
White House.

But the same crusading, confident energies that propelled Americans and
Russians into space also led them to the brink of global nuclear war in the
1961 Berlin crisis and the 1962 confrontation over Soviet missiles in Cuba.
The world stepped back from the brink, and both the United
States and the Soviet Union produced a generation of far more cautious
leaders. Khrushchev was replaced by Leonid Brezhnev and LBJ, the principal
architect of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, was succeeded by Richard Nixon,
who eventually phased U.S. forces out.

And it was no coincidence that Nixon and Brezhnev -- the joint architects of
superpower détente -- were also the men who switched off the flow of
resources for the manned exploration of space. The end of the brief eras of
political visionaries marked the end of the leadership of the space programs
by scientific visionaries as well.

Men like Werner Von Braun in the U.S. space program and Korolev in the
Soviet one were replaced by the likes of Carl Sagan and popularizing
physicist Freeman Dyson who argued that unmanned Solar System probes were
far more valuable scientifically and far cheaper than manned space
exploration. Soviet and U.S. society were changing too. The Soviets remained
far more committed to manned space flight than the Americans. But they were
starved of resources to do anything with it.

Through the 1980s and early 1990s, they logged an unparalleled number of
man-days on their space stations -- tiny, weightless, clunky affairs very
different from the luxurious silver cathedral-wheels in space of Kubrick's
movie. But the collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic crisis that
swept Russia meant Moscow's space program could only crawl along on a shoe
string budget. Korolev's dreams were virtually forgotten.

The fate of the U.S. program was even more bizarre. America's National
Aeronautics and Space Administration, which had triumphantly achieved
Kennedy's seemingly impossible lunar landing goal by 1969, decayed in the
classic manner of government bureaucracies in the following decades and
launched one unbelievably uneconomic and costly program after another.

It also became dominated by a generation of scientist-bureaucrats -- in
Sagan's image -- with an obsessive hatred of deeper space manned
exploration.

By the end of the century, there was a remarkably widely held belief among
aerospace engineers in U.S. industry -- totally ignored by the media -- that
space exploration would have to be privatized, and NASA's quasi-socialist
big government monopoly broken up. Only then, they
argued, would cutting-edge but entirely realistic new cost-effective
technologies be developed to mine the mineral riches of the Moon and push on
into the Solar System.

>From 1957 to 1972, the human exploration of space moved at unbelievable
speed. Korolev had reason to hope that after spending a full 15 years of his
life in the hell of Stalin's Gulag concentration camps, he might yet live to
send his cosmonauts to the Moon. Kubrick's great movie
too reflected the technological and inventive optimism of the time. Neither
of them dreamed that an era of technological stagnation and mediocrity
lasting longer than a generation would follow.

But Korolev died in 1966, worn out by the frustrations of dealing with a
Brezhnev determined to bury his dream. A few years later, Nixon pulled the
plug on America's space visionaries too and NASA went the way of all
government bureaucracies -- over-staffed, vastly over-funded and grossly,
ineptly incompetent, except at the truly important business of conning the
American public and Congress to keep giving it barrelfuls of money.

So maybe the crazed computer HAL in Kubrick's movie had the last laugh after
all.

But around the world, an older generation still retains memories of the
eerie thrill and wonder they felt as young children when they heard that
magic "beep-beep" from Korolev's metal grapefruit broadcasting its short
wave radio signals to an amazed human race. A new frontier, far vaster than
anything Christopher Colombus and America's Western pioneers had ever
dreamed of was
suddenly within our grasp. And perhaps, one day in the future, the dreams
kindled then will finally be realized.

Copyright © 2002 United Press International. All rights reserved.

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

(10) RE: OCEANIC IMPACTS AND THE P-T BOUNDARY EXTINCTION

>From Andrew Glikson <geospec@webone.com.au>

Dear Benny,
 
I like to comment on Adrian Jones' contribution on "oceanic impact
signatures and the Permian extinction" (CCNet 8.10.02):
 
A.  Projections from the continental impact record to the entire Earth
surface, including oceanic crust, since c.3.8 b.y. ago (end of the Late
Heavy Bombardment - LHB), require an absolute minimum of 30 impact craters
with D>100 km. However, impact incidence estimates based on the lunar
post-LHB record, terrestrial Phanerozoic records and the asteroid flux imply
c.450 craters of D>100 km, at least 3/4 of which impinging on oceanic crust.
Of these, >10 percent would impact on geothermally active mid-oceanic ridge
environments with crustal thickness of  <10 km, with inevitable large scale
adiabatic melting of the underlying mantle (Glikson, 2001, Geodynamics,
32:205-229).
 
B.  Archaean and Proterozoic impact fallout deposits identified in
Australia, South Africa and Greenland (cf. Lowe et al., 1989; Science, 245:
959-962; Byerly et al., 2002, Science, 272: 1325-1329; Simonson, 1992, Geol.
Soc. Am. Bull., 104: 829-839; Hassler and Simonson, 2001, J. Geology, 109:
1-19) provide evidence for large oceanic impacts, suggested by the lack of
shocked quartz grains (which would be expected from continental impacts) and
the chlorite-rich (mafic) composition of the impact fallout deposits
(microkrystite impact condensation spherules and microtektites). Such units
are recorded at 3.47 b.y., 3.24 b.y., 2.63 b.y., 2.56 b.y., 2.49 b.y. and in
the Palaeoproterozoic of Greenland.
 
C.  An oceanic mantle-penetrating "self-obliterating" mega-impact can be
expected to result in major geochemical anomalies related to the
rebound/melting products of target mafic/ultramafic rocks contaminated by
the exploding projectile. A reference to the Ontong-Java Large Igneous
Province (LIP) as a possible manifestation of such impact-triggered plume
remains unsupported pending correlation with global impact fallout units or
major extinction. Tests of this hypothesis may require identification of
meteoritic contamination of the lavas. The possibility of the P-T extinction
arising from a "self-obliterating" oceanic impact remains an important
working hypothesis. 
 
Andrew Glikson
Research School of Earth Science
Australian National University
Canberra, ACT 0200
andrew.glikson@anu.edu.au

8.10.02

============
(11) AND FINALLY: SMALL ASTEROID IMPACTS LESS THAN EXPECTED (IF YOU FIDDLE
THE DATA)

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

Small Asteroid Impacts Less Than Expected
October 7, 2002

DPS Press Release

Early in the morning of June 30, 1908, in the Tunguska region of Siberia
about 1,000 km (600 miles) north of Irkutsk, an asteroid [actually, it was
perhaps a cometary object, BJP] about 60 meters (200 ft) in diameter
[actually, we don't know the exact size of the object] entered the Earth's
atmosphere, resulting in an immense explosion, centered about 8 km (5 miles)
[if it was that high] above the forest below. Trees were flattened over an
area about 50 km (30 miles) in diameter, several times larger than the area
encircled by the Beltway around Washington, D.C. It exploded with energy in
the range of a modern nuclear missile warhead, about 10 megatons [actually,
the estimates in the scientific literature range from 10-40 megatons], or
about 500 times [actually, almost twice as high as that] the energy of the
Hiroshima atomic bomb [Little Boy exploded with the force equivalent of ~10
kilotons of TNT].

While there were few, if any, casualties from this event, if such an event
were to occur in a more populated area it would be a major natural disaster,
comparable to a major flood, earthquake or volcanic eruption. For this
reason there is considerable interest in assessing just how often such an
event might be expected to occur. Since the last one was about a century
ago, it has often be supposed that the answer is "about once a century," but
this is not necessarily so. Perhaps this "Tunguska event" was an unusually
recent eventBLE red to the expected frequency, or maybe they occur even more
often on average, and we have just be lucky in the last 94 years.

The Near-Earth asteroid surveys in progress for the last few years (LINEAR,
NEAT, LONEOS and others) are aimed mainly at discovering larger asteroids
that would cause major but far less frequent damage. They also discover many
smaller asteroids in the "Tunguska" size range, presenting an opportunity to
assess the frequency of these smaller events. Even smaller objects pose no
direct danger (sic!), as they explode higher in the atmosphere and produce
little if any ground damage [wrong again: the (iron) impactor that carved
out the ~1km wide Barringer Crater in Northern Arizona was, it is generally
believed, smaller than the Tunguska object].

The population of near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) down to ~1 km (half a mile) in
diameter is reasonably well determined. Planetary scientists now estimate
that there are about 1,000 such NEAS [actually, this is the lowest estimate;
a more realistic estimate puts the population at 1200+] equal to or larger
than 1 km in diameter, with a resulting impact frequency of about once per
half million years. However, in the size range of the "Tunguska event" NEAS
(diameter ~50-75 m), estimates of population, or equivalency of impact
frequency, range from once per 200 years to once per 10,000 years [actually,
the lowest estimate puts the rate of Tunguska-type impacts (i.e. 20-50m
objects) at once every 30-40 years]. The LINEAR survey has now discovered
~30 NEAS in the "Tunguska" size range [out of a population of perhaps one
million or more]; thus a better estimate is possible [actually, this is only
possible under the assumption that the NEO flux is constant]. However, for
small NEAS, a very large simulation is needed to obtain even a few
"detections" in the computer model. Dr. Alan Harris of the Space Science
Institute in Boulder, CO., recently compiled a new simulation for objects
from about 200 m to about 0 m in diameter, dividing them into six size bins.
By comparing his relative populations with the absolute population estimates
of Stuart (Science 294, 1691-1693, 2001) in his two smallest size bins,
Harris extends Stuart's curve through the size range of "Tunguska" objects.
He finds a population of the order of half a million objects in this size
range, corresponding to an expected impact interval of the order of once per
thousand years. This estimate is uncertain by a factor of about 3, largely
due to uncertainty in the actual size of the Tunguska event.

This new estimate of the impact frequency of "Tunguska-sized" events is
considerably less than has often been supposed. If correct, it means that
the Tunguska event having happened so recently is unusual, although not
extraordinarily so, and that the risk of such events in the future is a few
times less than has been assumed. This is not to say that there is no danger
at all. Impacts are random events, so it is not possible to say that we are
"about due" for another, or that since one happened so recently that another
won't happen soon. All we can say is that the odds are less than had been
often quoted based on the assumptions that such things happen about once a
century or even more often.

Contact info:

Alan W. Harris
Senior Research Scientist
Space Science Institute
4603 Orange Knoll Ave.
La Canada, CA, 91011
Phone: 818/790-8291
E-mail: harrisaw@colorado.edu

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