PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet DIGEST, 17 December 1998
------------------------------

(1) THE 1999 EXPEDITION TO THE POPIGAI IMPACT CRATER IN SIBERIA
    Joel Schiff <j.schiff@auckland.ac.nz>

(2) NEAR SPACECRAFT MAY FIND THAT EROS NEEDS DUSTING
    NASA News Servive
    http://science.nasa.gov/newhome/headlines/ast16dec98_1.htm

(3) CAST YOUR VOTE ON THE FUTURE OF NEO DETECTION & DEFLECTION
    Michael Martin-Smith <martin@miff.demon.co.uk>

====================
(1) THE 1999 EXPEDITION TO THE POPIGAI IMPACT CRATER IN SIBERIA

From Joel Schiff <j.schiff@auckland.ac.nz>
[as posted on the meteorite-list@meteoritecentral.com]

Dr. Roy Gallant, a frequent contributor to METEORITE!, has just sent
me the enclosed proposal which may be of interest to some List
members...

Joel

SUBJECT: 1999 Expedition to the Popigai Impact Crater, North Central
Siberia

The following is being sent to all of you who have expressed interest
in taking part in an expedition to the Popigai impact crater in
Siberia. The expedition is being organized by me and my long-time
Russian colleague, Ekaterina Rossovskaya. The two of us have
organized, for ourselves, six expeditions over the past six years. We
have gone to the following sites: Tunguska, Sikhote-Alin, Chinge,
Pallas, Tsarev, and Pervomaisky Poselok.

The Popigai expedition, if enough of you sign up, promises to be the
best one yet. Optimum time for the expedition would be 15 days, timed
about the last week of July and the first week of August.

I will not go into too many details here, only enough to give you a
good overview of the proposed trip..

The Popigai crater is located in north central Siberia above the
Arctic Circle northeast of the most northern Russian cityof Norilsk,
about 4 helicopter hours away from Khatanga. The crater is some 80 or
so kilometers in diameter, which puts it in the class of the Yukatan
asteroid crater now thought to have played an important role in the
extinction of the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago. Until fairly
recently, the Popigai crater was presumed to have been volcanic in
origin, but the Russian investigator Massaitis has shown that it is an
ancient impact crater. Among the evidence was the discovery of a
profusion of diamonds, which were formed as a result of impact energy.
For decades the Popigai crater has fascinated paleontologists and
geologists, but the entire area has been off limits because of the
diamonds and the mines constructed by gulag prisoners under Stalin.
Although the crater area has not been open to visitors, I have been
assured by Katya that she will be able to get permission for our group
to enter and explore the territory.

The plan would be as follows. Our group would fly to Moscow and remain
there overnight for one day of sightseeing, then from Moscow a
five-hour or so flight to Krasnoyarsk. West Coast participants might
want to fly westward directly to Krasnoyarsk. A day or two in
Krasnoyarsk to sightsee and rest (a 12-hour time change). Then a
flight north to Khatanga and overnight there. Then a helicopter flight
to the Popigai crater. Camping out for the next several days, during
which we would visit an old diamond mine, gulag camp, and hear
lectures about Popigai and other impact crater sites in Siberia.
Massaitis, by the way, is the world's leading expert on Popigai. We
would also have a geologist from Krasnoyarsk along. Katya and I would
also lecture from time to time on our previous expeditions.

We would spend four days or so rubber rafting along the Popigai River,
which runs all the way through the crater, camping all the while. We
would, by the way, have a cook and assistant(s) to do the fires and
feed us. Also an armed guard against bears, a couple of carriers to
help set up tents and assist in various ways. After the river rafting
the helicopter would pick us up on the far side of the crater. Back to
Krasnoyarsk, then to Moscow, and home.

Each person would bring his own camping equipment (including tents).
The expense estimates below include all expenses from Krasnoyarsk and
our return to Krasnoyarsk--hotels, food, etc. ; also the hotel in
Moscow.

Katya has worked out the enclosed table of costs based on the number
of people participating. Twenty is the upper limit. Fifteen days is
the suggested, optimum, time for the expedition, but could be whittled
down by a couple of days.

10 People       $5,080 per person              
12 People       $4,442                 
14                3,986                 
16                3,644                 
18                3,378                 
20                3,166                 

I can assure you that an expedition to Popigai  would be an adventure
all of us would be talking about for the rest of our lives. If you
want to join us on a romp in the tundra of Siberia's far north country,
let me know soonest so that Katya and I may fill you in on the details
of a daily schedule and detailed cost breakdown.

Please indicate your level of interest: _____ Count me in; _____ Maybe
(if "maybe," please

specify conditions:
_________________________________________________________

Meanwhile, my best to all of you who have expressed interest in
joining us.

--ROY GALLANT

P.S. Katya says that to get government clearances for us to enter the
restricted Popigai area she will need to have the name and passport
number of every expedition member before the end of January. You have
no idea how much red tape is involved in getting your official
invitations and various clearances with the KGB and other agencies.

---------------------------
Roy A. Gallant, Director
Southworth Planetarium
96 Falmouth Street
P.O. Box 9300
Portland, ME  04104-9300
RGALLANT@PORTLAND.MAINE.EDU (work)
RGAL@megalink.net (home)
TEL: 207-780-4249 (work)
FAX: 207-780-4051 (work)
TEL/FAX 207-864-5135 (home)

=================
(2) NEAR SPACECRAFT MAY FIND THAT EROS NEEDS DUSTING

From NASA News Servive
http://science.nasa.gov/newhome/headlines/ast16dec98_1.htm

Asteroids may scoop up dust over the eons

Dec. 16, 1998: When the Near Earth Asteroid (NEAR) spacecraft eases
into orbit around the asteroid 433 Eros next year, dust may be one of
its first discoveries. Earlier this year, the Mars Observer spacecraft
found that the Red Planet's larger moon, Phobos, is coated with dust up
to a meter (3.3 ft) deep.

"That was a surprise," said Dr. James Spann of NASA's Marshall Space
Flight Center. "I'm not sure that anyone had an idea of what things
look like on these small bodies. I don't imagine that Phobos is so
unique that it would have dust and the rest of the small bodies like it
won't."

Spann is the director of the Dusty Plasmas Laboratory that was
established at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center earlier this year.
It was designed to let scientists study the tiniest motes of dust in
space-like conditions. Understanding how dust grains interact with each
other, and how they react when exposed to sunlight will provide insight
into how planets and stars form.

The Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) instrument on the Mars Global
Surveyor observed Phobos, one of the two moons of Mars, on three
separate occasions. The primary objective has been to collect infrared
spectra, at different wavelengths ranging from ~6 to 50 micrometers, of
Phobos to study its composition and physical properties. The TES data
indicate that the surface temperature in the shadowed region of Phobos
is -170 F (~-112 C), while only several kilometers away on the sunlit
side of Phobos the temperature is +25 F (~-4 C). The extreme
temperature difference between the night and day sides of Phobos
indicates that the surface is composed of very small dust particles
that lose their heat rapidly once the Sun has set. In addition, Phobos
does not have an atmosphere to help hold heat in during the night.

The Mars Global Surveyor did not see the dust directly, but inferred
its presence by measuring how quickly Phobos loses its body heat when
the sun sets. The rapid loss is best explained by a huge surface area -
much greater than if Phobos were a solid, relatively smooth body. A
coating of dust would provide the increased surface area - the surfaces
of all the miniscule grains added together - to radiate heat into
space. This is why, for example, a desert cools so quickly after
sunset.

So why did dust collect on Phobos, and are Eros and other asteroids
also are coated with dust?

NEAR, one of NASA's Discovery-class missions, was launched on Feb. 17,
1996, and has already explored one asteroid, 253 Mathilde, in a quick
flyby on June 27, 1997. NEAR will rendezvous with 433 Eros on January
10 and settle into an orbit that will be gradually tightened until it
lands on the asteroid. Although it does not carry a thermal emission
spectrometer like that on the Mars spacecraft, it may return some
information about dust on Eros.

"It may be that electrostatic forces keep those grains on there," Spann
said. Because of the low mass of such bodies, "I don't think that
gravity would do it."

Spann noted that we tend to think of gravity as the only dominant force
in the universe. Indeed, it holds solar systems and galaxies together,
and makes leaving this planet an expensive undertaking. But other
forces work at smaller scales.

===================
(3) CAST YOUR VOTE ON THE FUTURE OF NEO DETECTION & DEFLECTION

From Michael Martin-Smith <martin@miff.demon.co.uk>

Dear CC-Digest network

Some of you may be interested in this site/voting opportunity!

http://CNN.com/TECH/space/

A chance to vote on NEO detection etc.

Michael Martin-Smith

"Do you think we should spend more money on detecting and preparing
to repel asteroids or comets that could collide with Earth?"

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*

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY
-------------------

(1) I'M GETTING TIRED OF THIS SORT OF CASSANDRA-ISM

From Wolfgang Kokott <W.Kokott@lrz.uni-muenchen.de>

Dear Dr Peiser,

at the risk of pointing out the obvious, or to pre-empt the comment
from somebody closer to the problem:

(1) A. Beal seems to be not very familiar with astrodynamics. If
Cassini were on a collision course for next year, the control center
(and we, the educated public) would know already. The interplanetary
orbit is purely Keplerian, not subject to any whims and surprises, and
encounter conditions for EGA are known from one powered maneuver to the
next. Probably somebody at JPL could provide us with a status?

(2) A. Beal seems to be unaware of the workings of RTG's which are
thermal generator devices rather than nuclear reactors. Likewise, he
seems not to know about the various isotopes of Plutonium (different
half-lives), and about the non-toxicity of Plutonium *Oxide* which is
used for space probes. Again, maybe somebody familiar with the Cassini
details could provide some easy explanation.

Personally, I am growing tired with this sort of Cassandra-ism. In my
country here, we had the very in-famous 'Galileo' debate in the
Bundestag already back in 1989 -- but I am still hearing and reading
the same anti-science pseudo-arguments which were put to rest a decade
ago by full and detailed facts provided by German and U.S. authorities
and experts. The greatest possible danger to people from space debris
large enough to reach the Earth's surface is still to be hit over their
heads.

Regards,

Wolfgang Kokott

=====================
(2) OH NO, NOT THIS AGAIN....

From Richard Kowalski <bitnik@bitnik.com>

Benny

All I can say is:

Oh no NOT this again.

Here in Florida we had protesters for Cassini's launch. They spouted the
same (tired) argument over and over...

They did leave out one important fact about Plutonium in our atmosphere.
We've *already* inserted much more than this during nuclear weapons tests
and we have yet to see any *world-wide* catastrophe in the past 50 years...

Galileo passed with a fraction of a second and 1/2 mile of predicted during
it's last earth assist. I doubt Cassini will be much different.
Please don't waste band-width with this "discussion".

-- Richard A Kowalski
Quail Hollow Observatory  http://www.bitnik.com/QHO
761 Zephyrhills

=====================
(3) SCIENCE FICTION MAY AFFECT RATHER THAN PREDICT THE FUTURE

From Alan W. Harris <awharris@lithos.jpl.nasa.gov>

>(8) IMAGINING THE FUTURE: THE LINK BETWEEN SCI-FI AND REALITY
>
>From CNN INTERACTIVE

>How well do fiction and reality meet in space?
>Look at the vision of artist Chesley Bonestell in 1952, long before
>the first man went into space. He depicted the shuttle with wings,
>astronauts on spacewalks ... and an orbiting space station.

Dear Benny,

In considering the above quote, I hasten to point out that one must
consider also the degree to what science fiction "affected" the future,
not just "predicted" the future. It's no secret that the most efficient
means of round-trip travel into Earth orbit and return is with a
roughly spheroidal capsule with a heat shield and a parachute, not with
something resembling an airplane with brick wings.  The Space Station
is proving to be at best a destination, not a stopover point on the way
to anywhere else, as envisioned by artists and science fiction writers.
Why do we have such things? Probably more because of the images created
by Bonestell and others, than by technical considerations.  Thus these
things are prophecies more of the self-fulfilling kind than insightful
predictions of the future.

Cheers,

Alan Harris (USA)



CCCMENU CCC for 1998

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