PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet 108/2000 - 26 October 2000
--------------------------------


     "More potential Earth-killing (sic) asteroids orbit our sun than  
     recent estimates have suggested, according to new data collected
     with New Mexico telescopes. About 1,100 large Earth-crossing
     asteroids are likely to be zinging through the solar system,
     according to an analysis by Massachusetts Institute of Technology
     researcher Scott Stuart. The risk of one colliding with Earth is
     still tiny, said Grant Stokes, head of the New Mexico asteroid-
     hunting project. But a larger number increases the odds of a
     catastrophic crash."
          -- John Fleck, Alburquerque Journale, 24 October 2000



(1) CURRENT ESTIMATES OF NEAR-EARTH ASTEROIDS TOO LOW
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(2) ESTIMATES OF KILLER ASTEROIDS ZOOMS
    Alburquerque Journale, 24 October 2000

(3) RASH OF RED ASTEROIDS PUZZLES RESEARCHERS
    Space.com, 25 October 2000

(4) LUNAR LEONIDS & LUNAR IMPACTS
    NASA Science News News <snglist@lyris.msfc.nasa.gov>

(5) NEW "PLUTINO" DISCOVERED BETWEEN NEPTUNE AND PLUTO
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(6) ON THE ATMOSPHERIC FRAGMENTATION OF SMALL ASTEROIDS
    Luigi Foschini <foschini@tesre.bo.cnr.it>

(7) UPPER EOCENE IMPACTS NOT RELATED TO LATE EOCENE MASS EXTINCTION?
    James Whitehead <jwhitehe@unb.ca>

(8) LATE EOCENE EXTINCTION
    Steve Drury <s.a.drury@open.ac.uk>

(9) FRAGMENTED ASTEROIDS AND OCEAN IMPACTS
    Michael Paine

(10) INTENATIONAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE ASTEROID DEFLECTION DILEMMA
     Jens Kieffer-Olsen <dstdba@post4.tele.dk>

(11) FIRST UK CENTE FOR ASTROBIOLOGY
     Chandra Wickramasinghe <xdw20@dial.pipex.com>


==================
(1) CURRENT ESTIMATES OF NEAR-EARTH ASTEROIDS TOO LOW

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

News Office
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts

CONTACT:
Deborah Halber                Roger Sudbury
MIT News Office               Lincoln Lab,
(617) 258-9276                (781) 981-7024
halber@mit.edu                sudbury@LL.mit.edu

OCTOBER 24, 2000

MIT researcher says current estimates of near-Earth asteroids too low

PASADENA, Calif. -- A Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher
said today that the number of near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) may be higher
than recent estimates.

Research presented by MIT graduate student Scott Stuart at a meeting
of the American Astronomical Society's Division of Planetary Science
showed that because the inclinations -- angles of orbit in relation to
the plane of the Earth's orbit around the sun -- of known NEAs are not
representative of the entire population, there may be more undetected
NEAs out there.

NEAs with low inclinations are easier to find than highly inclined NEAs,
Stuart noted. Thus, the known NEAs tend to have low inclinations rather
than being representative of the population.

With the new determination of higher inclinations for the NEA
population, researchers at MIT Lincoln Laboratory now estimate that there is
a mean total of more than 1,100 near-Earth asteroids bigger than 1 kilometer
(0.6 miles) in diameter. Recent estimates had ranged from 750 to 900. Those
prior estimates used a small number of asteroid detections and assumed that
the NEAs have lower inclinations than suggested by Lincoln Near-Earth
Asteroid Research (LINEAR) Project data.

This new number is consistent with earlier estimates of the population
made by the late astrogeologist Eugene Shoemaker, who based his
analysis on the number of asteroid impact craters on the moon.

NEAs are objects within our solar system whose orbits may bring them
close to the Earth. While no currently known NEAs are now on a collision
course with the Earth, many NEAs remain undetected.

The amount of damage that would be caused by an asteroid depends on
its size. Asteroids bigger than 1 kilometer are thought to be capable of
causing extensive damage on a global scale.

Astronomers find and catalog asteroids by imaging large swaths of
sky with telescopes and searching for objects that move against the
background of fixed stars. By tracking an asteroid's location over
several months, astronomers can calculate the orbit that the asteroid
follows and determine whether it could pose a hazard to the Earth.

LINEAR has been scanning the skies to discover and catalog NEAs and to
provide advance warning if any are bound for Earth. Since March 1998,
LINEAR has found 70 percent of all near-Earth asteroids discovered
worldwide. It is a major contributor toward NASA's goal of cataloging
90 percent of NEAs larger than 1 kilometer within the next 10 years.

No one yet knows exactly how many NEAs are out there. However, it is
possible to make estimates of the number remaining to be discovered
based on the number already found and the amount of searching that has
been done to discover them.

LINEAR has detected more than 400 different near-Earth asteroids. This
ten-fold increase in detections has allowed researchers to investigate
more accurately the inclination distribution of NEAs.

Stuart is a participant in the MIT Lincoln Laboratory Scholars program,
an employee education program, working with Richard Binzel, professor
of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT, and a member of
the LINEAR project team. Principal investigator of the LINEAR project
at Lincoln Laboratory is Grant Stokes, assistant division head.

The LINEAR project, conducted by MIT Lincoln Laboratory, is jointly
sponsored by NASA and the United States Air Force under contract number
F19628-00-C-0002.

"Opinions, interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations are those
of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the United States Air
Force."

================
(2) ESTIMATES OF KILLER ASTEROIDS ZOOMS

From Alburquerque Journale, 24 October 2000
http://www.abqjournal.com/scitech/157101scitech10-24-00.htm

By John Fleck

More potential Earth-killing (sic) asteroids orbit our sun than recent
estimates have suggested, according to new data collected with New
Mexico telescopes.

About 1,100 large Earth-crossing asteroids are likely to be zinging
through the solar system, according to an analysis by Massachusetts
Institute of Technology researcher Scott Stuart.

The risk of one colliding with Earth is still tiny, said Grant
Stokes, head of the New Mexico asteroid-hunting project. But a larger number
increases the odds of a catastrophic crash.

FULL STORY at:
http://www.abqjournal.com/scitech/157101scitech10-24-00.htm

==================
(3) RASH OF RED ASTEROIDS PUZZLES RESEARCHERS

From Space.com, 25 October 2000
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/red_asteroids_001025.html

By Robert Roy Britt

While some things turn blue when they get really cold, a newly
discovered group of frigid solar system objects is decidedly red.

The inexplicably red comet-like objects orbit the Sun in the cold outer
reaches of the solar system in a region known as the Kuiper Belt.
Compared to their gray kin, the red objects have an exclusive hold on the
most far-out orbits.

Seeing red for 50 years

Comets and asteroids take on different colors depending on how much blue
sunlight they absorb or reflect, which in turn is tied to their
composition. Since the 1950s, astronomers have known that very red asteroids
don't mingle with the not-so-red variety in the main Asteroid Belt, between
Mars and Jupiter. The red ones dominate the inner regions of this belt.

FULL STORY at:
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/red_asteroids_001025.html

=================
(4) LUNAR LEONIDS & LUNAR IMPACTS

From NASA Science News News <snglist@lyris.msfc.nasa.gov>

NASA Science News for October 26, 2000

Next month the Moon will plow through a stream of debris from comet
Tempel-Tuttle, the parent of the Leonid meteor shower.  Meteoroids that
strike the Moon don't cause shooting stars as they do on our planet.
Instead, they hit the lunar terrain at high speed.  Scientists will be
watching for signs of impacts as the Moon heads for a close encounter
with the Leonids.

FULL STORY at
http://spacescience.com/headlines/y2000/ast26oct_1.htm?list20392

=====================
(5) NEW "PLUTINO" DISCOVERED BETWEEN NEPTUNE AND PLUTO

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

Yale University

CONTACT:
Jacqueline Weaver 203-432-8555 #109

For Immediate Release: October 25, 2000

Yale Astronomers Find New Minor Planet Between Neptune And Pluto

New Haven, Conn. -- A new minor planet measuring about 400 miles in
diameter and located between Neptune and Pluto in the outer rim of the
solar system has been found by Yale astronomers.

Officially named 2000 EB173, the planet was discovered using a powerful
telescope located at the CIDA observatory in Merida, Venezuela. In
addition to Yale astronomers, the team included scientists from Indiana
University and Venezuela's University of the Andes.

Because of its small size, one quarter the size of Pluto, the planet is
known as a "planetoid" or "plutino," meaning "Little Pluto."

"The significance of this finding? It's just 'Wow!' After all these
years we can still find something new in our solar system," said Professor
Charles Baltay, chairman of the Department of Physics at Yale University and
leader of the group that made the discovery. "Some of it is luck. We looked
in the right place. The other is the precision of our instrumentation."

Baltay said the telescope used in making the observation encompasses 250
square degrees of sky in one night, compared to one tenth of one square
degree with a more conventional telescope. The more powerful telescope
is equipped with a digital camera and photographs any changes in the
sky.

"Most of the stars in the sky don't change night to night, or even
century to century," Baltay said. "However, planets in our solar system move
very rapidly."

He said the members of the Quasar Equatorial Survey Team (QUEST) were
looking for quasars, supernovae and other variable objects when they
found the plutino. It was detected through a computer-aided search of
thousands of images recorded in a single six-hour period on the night of
March 15. The tiny, reddish planet was scarcely moving -- just 10 arc
seconds per night -- but was still fast enough to be recorded on the digital
film.

Although many other objects have been recorded in the area known as the
"Kuiper Belt" just outside Pluto's orbit, none were as large as the new
planetoid.

Baltay said it is customary that whoever finds a new object in the solar
system is allowed to name it, but only after it has circled the sun
twice. Unfortunately for Baltay, it will take 243 years for plutino to
circle the sun just once.

Other Yale researchers involved in the discovery were David Rabinowitz,
associate research scientists in the Department of Physics, Bradley
Schaefer, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, now at the
University of Texas at Austin, and Ignacio Ferrin of the University of
the Andes.

====================
(6) ON THE ATMOSPHERIC FRAGMENTATION OF SMALL ASTEROIDS

From Luigi Foschini <foschini@tesre.bo.cnr.it>

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am pleased to inform you that my manuscript "On the atmospheric
fragmentation of small asteroids" has been accepted for the publication
on Astronomy and Astrophysics Main Journal.

If you are interested, you can freely download a preprint (Postscript
file) at the web page:

http://tonno.tesre.bo.cnr.it/~foschini/full_list.html

If you have any problem, please do not hesitate to contact me.

I would like to underline, that this paper is part of a discussion
between V. Bronshten and me about the fragmentation of small asteroids and
the Tunguska event.

This scientific discussion has take place on the pages of Astronomy and
Astrophysics. Previous "episodes" are:

L. Foschini, A&A 342 (1999) L1.
V. Bronshten, A&A 359 (2000) 777.

I will send a preprint to Bronsthen (because he has not email) and I
truly hope that he will soon reply.

Greetings,

Luigi

Dr. Luigi Foschini
Istituto TeSRE - CNR
Via Gobetti 101, I-40129 Bologna (Italy)
Tel. +39 051.6398706 - Fax +39 051.6398724
Email: foschini@tesre.bo.cnr.it
       luifosc@tin.it (home)
Home page: http://tonno.tesre.bo.cnr.it/~foschini/


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

(7) UPPER EOCENE IMPACTS NOT RELATED TO LATE EOCENE MASS EXTINCTION?

From James Whitehead <jwhitehe@unb.ca>

Benny

Re: the article posted by Duncan Steel from the NY Times
titled "Climate Change Led to Mass Extinction 34 Million Years Ago"

As noted by Duncan, there was indeed no mention of the Chesapeake impact
that occurred during the upper Eocene. However, I find the persistent
lack of reference to the larger, but contemporaneous, impact structure in
Siberia when discussing upper Eocene events even more amiss.

The Popigai impact structure, located on the northern margin of the
Archean Anabar shield, is some 100 km in diameter, and is also responsible
for widely distributed ejecta spherules. The close occurrence of these two
large impacts in time (35.5 for Chesapeake and 35.7 Ma for Popigai) might
suggest that their climatic effects were compounded. However, isolating
these effects from the effects of steadily declining marine temperatures
that occurred throughout the upper Eocene has not been possible, so far. In
addition, the impacts occurred several millions of years before the end of
the Eocene (they are not true end-Eocene impact events) and they do not
coincide with any particular rise in the general extinction rate in the
marine stratigraphic record. The nature of the target rocks in these two
areas, primarily crystalline basement with some cover deposits that were
also devoid of significant evaporite minerals no doubt would have lessened
their capability to cause a long term atmospheric perturbation and a true
mass extinction event.

Despite the temporal proximity of these two impact events, their ejecta
can be distinguished in the marine stratigraphic record. It has been assumed
for some time that one of ejecta layers had a provenance from Chesapeake,
while the other was from Popigai. Confirming this, we have presented new
data in the September 30th issue of Earth and Planetary Science Letters that
presents Sr and Nd isotopic data for the ejecta spherules. This data
provides a definitive link to their source impact structures and for the
first time demonstrates the widespread extent to the Popigai ejecta.

This article can be found at:
http://journals.library.utoronto.ca:9501/elsevier/0012821x/v0181i04/00002259.html

Many thanks,
James Whitehead

-----
Dr. James Whitehead
Impact Geology Group
Planetary and Space Science Centre
Department of Geology
University of New Brunswick
2 Bailey Drive,
Fredericton
New Brunswick
E3B 5A3
Canada
Tel: 506-453-4593/4804
Fax: 506-453-5055
Email: jwhitehe@unb.ca

==================
(8) LATE EOCENE EXTINCTION

From Steve Drury <s.a.drury@open.ac.uk>

Duncan Steel's comment on the recent work using fishes' ear bones at the
Eocene-Oligocene boundary does miss the point. Although there is other
evidence (marine-core Ca/Mg ratios and oxygen isotopes) for the onset of
glaciation in East and West Antarctica at about this time - the beginning of
the Tertiary global cooling to the Pliocene-Pleistocene galcial/interglacial
cycling, it is not cooling that the authors demonstrate. The annual
resolution in otolith oxygen isotopes indicates an increase in seasonality
at the palaeolatitude of the present Gulf of Mexico, but not any intense
cooling. Summer sea-surface temperatures are indistinguishable from those in
the late-Eocene, but those in winters were several degrees Celsius cooler.
The extinction is among marine
invertebrates, not all marine or terrestrial life. Since invertebrates
are extremely diverse, this looks like a big event.

Steve Drury
Open University, UK

================
(9) FRAGMENTED ASTEROIDS AND OCEAN IMPACTS

From Michael Paine

Dear Jens,

You have made an interesting observation about the fragmentation of
large asteroids before impact. IF there was very little warning and IF
an object could be broken into smaller pieces and IF the pieces could
be made to only hit the deep ocean then the consequences may not be as
severe as those a single large object. However, it seems to me that too
little is known about the wide ranging consequences of impacts
(including tsunami) to be able to make such an important decision as
whether to "nuke" an incoming asteroid.

Hopefully this issues will be addressed by Recommendation 9 of the UK
NEP Task Force Report!?

regards
Michael Paine

================
(10) INTENATIONAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE ASTEROID DEFLECTION DILEMMA

From Jens Kieffer-Olsen <dstdba@post4.tele.dk>


The issue of partial deflection truly opens up for a can of worms!

It has been suggested that nobody would be able to pinpoint the
exact target zone for an impactor still many months away.  But is
this a fact? Even if ground-based observations were too inaccurate,
wouldn't it be feasible to launch a small interplanetary probe simply
to determine the precise orbital characteristics of the incoming object?

If the object was thus determined to target the Antarctica every nation
on Earth would agree to let it take its own course, rather than risk
the fragmented pieces from a nuclear deflection attempt to land here and
there and everywhere.

Were it heading for North America, however, it's a fair guess to assume
that an attempt WOULD be made by the US to fragment it before impact.
Likewise for an ocean impact deemed a threat to the East Coast.

Problem is, what if it were heading for Africa, China, or Australia?
Why should the US tax payer defray the cost of a deflection, which could
turn upon himself and destroy an American city otherwise safe from impact? 

If, for example, China had the capacity to attempt a nuclear deflection
too, the problem would grow even more complex. And, as I recall it, the
asteroid deflection scenario was indeed used in defence of nuclear testing
by the Chinese government about a half decade ago.

Negotiations between the involved powers and an equitable agreement
seem necessary, if the world is to engage in risky deflection attempts over
the next century or so. After then, we can hope for more reliable techniques
to eliminate such quandaries.        

Yours sincerely
Jens Kieffer-Olsen, M.Sc.(Elec.Eng.)
Slagelse, Denmark

==================
(11) FIRST UK CENTE FOR ASTROBIOLOGY

From Chandra Wickramasinghe <xdw20@dial.pipex.com>

Dear Benny:

Would you kindly inform your list of the setting up of the first UK
Centre for Astrobiology in Cardiff.  The document setting out the goals and
structure of the Centre is attached.

Sincerely

Chandra

------------
 

THE CARDIFF CENTRE FOR ASTROBIOLOGY
CANOLFAN ASTROBIOLEG CAERDYDD

Professor N. Chandra Wickramasinghe, Cardiff University
and
Professor Anthony K. Campbell, University of Wales College of Medicine,

ACTION PLAN
OBJECTIVES

The primary objective is to establish a Centre in Cardiff for the new
interdisciplinary science of astrobiology. Our initial research
programme will deal broadly with

1. Evidence for the existence of biomolecules and cells in the upper
atmosphere as well as in comets and interstellar dust,
2. Evidence for the existence of life molecules and processes in
material recovered from space,
3. The effect of space conditions on living systems
These studies will feed into investigations on the emergence and
development of life in the context of evolving atmospheres on planetary
bodies (1-4, 14). This work will also provide information essential for the
emergent discipline of space medicine.
The unique combination of astronomy and molecular cell biology from the
two principal investigators will provide Cardiff with a Centre of world
excellence, and attract outside research funding as well as leading
scientists. It will give us the facility to contribute to space
missions probing for life on solar system bodies.

SCIENTIFIC PROGRAMME

Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe were amongst the first
scientists in recent times to forge a connection between astronomy and
biology (Refs. 3, 14). Techniques pioneered by Professor Campbell, using
bioluminescence as a marker of biological processes (refs 5-12), have
exciting potential for investigating two key aspects of Astrobiology.  These
include the existence of life molecules and processes in the upper
atmosphere and space, including cosmic dust, meteorites (including those
known as SNC's, which have originated on Mars), and the effect of space
conditions on living systems.
The techniques will first be applied to high altitude samples and will
then be developed for potential use on spaceprobes, as pioneered by the Open
University's Mars Express programme.

The scientific programme will focus on five central issues:
1. The identification of biological molecules and processes in the
stratosphere and middle atmosphere and its clouds.
2. Evidence of biochemicals and/or intact cells in comets, cometary
fragments and in interstellar dust particles from remote sensing data
(IR to UV spectroscopy, radio astronomy and mass spectroscopy)?
3. The transfer of life-bearing material in space, between solar system
bodies, and viability under extreme conditions of flash heating, impact
pressures and irradiation.
4. The direct detection of life molecules and processes via spaceprobe
instruments, and in samples from planets and other extraterrestrial
material obtained from space missions.
5. The effect of space conditions on living systems - terrestrial pro-
and eu-karyotic cells including microorganisms, particularly extremophiles,
transgenic plants, and human cells in culture.
  

1. Biological molecules and processes in the upper atmosphere
(a) Life at the top - the stratosphere
The major source of life processes in the stratosphere is likely to be
bombardment of particles from space.  Uplifting of material from the
Earth's surface also occurs. One hitherto unknown bacterial strain which is
significantly different from terrestrial strains has already been
isolated from filter samples taken by balloon at 15-30 km, by the Indian
group based at the Indian Space Research Organisation  (ISRO), Bangalore,
India (Ref.15). Further work by this group which is under way will included
Campbell and Wickramasinghe as participating scientists, and the
stratospheric samples are to be shared equally between Cardiff and ISRO.

(b) Life in the clouds - the troposphere
The major source of life processes in the troposphere is the uplifting
of material from the Earth's surface. But there is also some exchange with
the stratosphere. Material in the troposphere will reach the earth through
rain droplets, and could explain the pandemics of flu and plague identified
by Hoyle and one of the present authors (refs. 1,2). Recent evidence of
microbial processes in cloud ice particles suggests that amplification could
be occurring in the clouds.

Studies of atmospheric biomaterial would also have major implications
for safety in genetic manipulation. Unconfirmed reports, following a fire
some 30 years ago at a molecular biology laboratory in the USA, reported DNA
and bacteriophages isolated from air samples several km up. Thus it is vital
to discover whether the current practice of incineration of genetically
manipulated material prevents biological material reaching the upper
atmosphere. The search for toxic organic substances in the stratosphere
would have important medical implications and lucrative funding
possibilities.

The technology to be used in these investigations will involve PCR, and
ultra sensitive analysis using chemi- and bio- luminescent analysis.

2. Biomaterial in cosmic dust
Hoyle and Wickramasinghe (see Ref.14) commenced pioneering work on the
identification of complex organic polymers in cosmic dust over two
decades ago. Earlier arguments for identifying biochemicals and/or bacteria
in interstellar and cometary dust (Refs. 3,4) will be refined and
re-examined using new astronomical data, including data from ESA's Infrared
Space Observatory, and also measurements from the NASA Stardust Mission.
Proposals will be discussed with Indian astronomers for high-resolution
infrared spectroscopy of galactic infrared sources deploying IUCAA's new
2-metre telescope.

Spectra of biological pigments and their degradation products under
space simulated conditions will be obtained in the laboratory and compared
with unidentified astronomical spectral features.

4. Transfer of life-bearing material in space between solar system
bodies

An original form of the panspermia hypothesis including physical
transfer has been validated in principle. Such a process would seem to have
been established by the identification of organic structures within Martian
meteorites, including a sample (Chassigny) that was only lightly
shocked. Interplanetary transfer of spores or microrganisms are thus
presumed to take place, but the survival probabilities associated with any
particular transfer situation are yet unknown. Work under this heading
divides into two investigations:
(a) retention of viability under space conditions, and
(b) retention of viability at planetary ejection and landing events.
Experiments firing specimens from a gas gun have been conducted at the
University of Canterbury and could profitably be extended for use with
our new life-detection techniques.

4. Life processes in material from space

This will involve chemical and biochemical analysis of cosmic dust,
samples brought home from spacecraft, and meteorites. However, a
considerable problem is contamination from the Earth before analysis. Thus a
major thrust of this part of the programme will be to collaborate with NASA
and ESA programmes to develop robotic bioluminescent assays for in situ
analysis on the Martian surface or on the surfaces of comets. The proposed
transportation of firefly luciferase to analyse ATP on the Martian surface
in the first Viking expedition was never carried out. This will be a prime
objective. Chirality is an essential property of life (ref.5). Chiral
molecules have yet to be searched for adequately. We intend developing a
novel bioluminescent technology for analysing mirror image molecules in
space samples. This will have exciting applications in the study of human
microbiology.

5. The effect of space conditions on living systems

Bioluminescent reporters of chemical reactions in living cells offer
unique potential for investigating the effects of weightlessness on
biological processes. Bioluminescence analysis is extremely sensitive, being
able to detect several molecular processes in defined parts of living cells,
including free Ca2+ , ATP, proteases, phosphorylation, and cell end
responses with relatively simple instrumentation (refs 6-10).
Fluorescent probes need sophisticated lasers, which are cumbersome and
expensive for spacecraft. An essential question, never studied to date is
the effect of weightlessness on cell signalling. Cardiff is in a unique
position to investigate this. The recent development of the Rainbow protein
technology (12), and targeting to organelles (7), in Professor Campbell's
laboratory places us in a unique position in the world to address this. Thus
the programme will engineer cells so that they are luminous, can be sent
into space, or to the space station, where robotics will enable luminous
signals from sites within living cells to be transmitted to Earth.

We also intend setting up a zero gravity facility in Cardiff for pilot
studies of the effects of gravity on cell signalling in bacteria, animal
and plant cells. All these cells have been successfully genetically
engineered, and the bioluminescent indicators imaged under normal gravity.
Shuttle experiments might also be feasible in this context and could be
considered as an alternative.

Experiments investigating the effects of space conditions, including
space stations orbiting the Earth, are essential for Space Medicine. These
are also vital if we are to develop realistic and successful programmes
where men and women work and travel in space. Cell signalling is the key
process in life determining when and how a cell, organ or organism reacts to
external or internal stimuli, and pathogens. Professor Campbell has
established, at the University of Wales College of Medicine, an
internationally recognised facility for live cell imaging, including
multi-photon confocal microscopy and single photon counting imaging,
with unique potential for exploiting the genetically engineered Rainbow
proteins, and other bioluminescent and fluorescent molecules, to study
chemical events in live cells. This would be the first time such studies
have ever been possible in space. The sensitivity of Professor Campbell's
technology will also provide unique assay systems for detecting and
quantifying biological molecules, such ATP, DNA, and chiral molecules, in
space samples.

A key issue in these studies is preventing contamination of samples from
space with terrestrial material. We therefore seek support to set up and
equip a high containment laboratory at the University of Wales College
of Medicine to investigate samples that are shortly to be received from
ISRO, India.  This laboratory, under the direction of Professor Campbell,
will be affiliated to the proposed Centre for Astrobiology at Cardiff
University. The combination of this facility with the technology and
collaborations already established would provide Cardiff with one of the
best, if not unique, facilities for Astrobiology in the world.

This work will be published in peer-reviewed journals. But we also
intend presenting our programme and results to the public through the Darwin
initiative. Some 100,000 has been raised during the past year to
support the Pembrokeshire Darwin Science Festival.

COLLABORATIONS AND LINKS
(1) Links with the Schools of Earth Sciences and Biology at Cardiff
University
(2) A major collaboration has already been established with the group in
India led by Professor J.V. Narlikar.
(3) Links with the School of Mathematics and the School of Earth Sciences at
the Australian National University are currently under discussion for the
specific purpose of conducting isotope studies of nanogramme stratospheric
samples.
(4) We have had longstanding links with ESA through participation in the
Giotto mission to comet Halley, and these are continuing through the
participation of Professor Wickramasinghe and Dr. Wallis in the Radio
Science Investigation Team of ESA's Rosetta Mission to Comet P/Wirtanen.
(5) In the United Kingdom links to the University of Canterbury for
space impact expertise and to the Open University for spaceprobe biochemical
analysis are envisaged.
(6) Interest has been expressed from NASA over a link to their newly
formed Astrobiology Unit.
(7) A link has also been established with JRA Aerospace, which is
responsible for developing spin offs from the European space programme.
The bioluminescent imaging cameras were developed by Photek Ltd, with
Professor Campbell, partially funded through a Eureka grant from the
European space programme. This proposed Centre would complete the circle,
taking technology transfer from the space programme back into space.
(8) We intend being a major player in the recently established UK
Astrobiology Group (ref. 13).


REFERENCES
1. Hoyle, F. and Wickramasinghe, N.C., 1990. J. Roy Soc Med, 83, 258
2. Hoyle, F. and Wickramasinghe, N.C., 1986. Viruses from Space
(University College Cardiff Press, 1986)
3. Hoyle, F. and Wickramasinghe, N.C., 1990. The Theory of Cosmic Grains
(Kluwer Academic Press)
4. Hoyle, F. and Wickramasinghe, N.C., 1986. Nature, 322, 509
5. Campbell, A.K., 1994. Rubicon: the fifth dimension of biology
(Duckworth, London)
6. Sala Newby, GB, Kendall, JM, Jones, H, Taylor, KM, Badminton, MN,
Llewellyn, DH and Campbell, AK (1999). Bioluminescent and
chemiluminescent indicators for molecular signalling and function in living
cells. pp 251-272. In Fluorescent probes for biological function 2nd
edition. Ed Mason, WT. Academic Press, London.
7. Sala-Newby, GB, Badminton, MN, Evans, WH, George, CH, Jones, HE,
Kendall, JM, Ribeiro, AS and Campbell, AK (2000). Targetted Bioluminescent
indicators in living cells. Methods in Enzymology. 305,478-498.
8. Sala Newby, GB, Taylor, KT, Badminton, MN, Rembold, CR and Campbell,
AK (1998). Imaging bioluminescent indicators shows Ca2+ and ATP
permeability thresholds in live cells attacked by complement. Immunology.
93:4:601-609
9. Campbell, AK, Trewavas, AJ and Knight, MR (1996). Calcium imaging
shows differential sensitivity to cooling and communication in luminous
transgenic plants. Cell Calcium 19: 211-218.
10. Dunstan, S, Sala-Newby, GB, Bermudez-Fajardo, A, Taylor, K.M. and
Campbell, A.K. (2000). Cloning and expression of the bioluminescent
photoprotein pholasin from the bivalve mollusc Pholas dactylus.
J.Biol.Chem.275, 9403-9409.
11. Sala-Newby, GB, Thomson, CM and Campbell, AK (1996). Biochem. J.
313: 761-767. Sequence and biochemical similarities between luciferases of
the glow-worm Lampyris noctiluca and the firefly Photinus pyralis.
12. Baubet,V, Le Mouellic, H, Campbell, AK, Lucas-Meunier, E, Fossier, P
and Brulet, P (2000). Chimeric GFP-aequorin as bioluminescent Ca2+ reporters
at the single cell level. Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.97:7260-7265.
13. Astrobiology in the UK: Scientific Status and Goals  (British
National Space Centre, 1999).
14. Astronomical Origins of Life (eds F. Hoyle and N.C. Wickramasinghe)
(Kluwer Academic Press, 2000)
15. Shivaji, S. et al (2000) submitted to Nature

Professor N. Chandra Wickramasinghe, Cardiff University
Wickramasinghe@cardiff.ac.uk
www.uc.ac.uk/uwcc/maths/wickramasinghe/
and
Professor Anthony K. Campbell, University of Wales College of Medicine
Campbellak@cardiff.ac.uk
www.uwcm.ac.uk/uwcm/mb/campbell.html

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