CCNet 1/2001 - 3 January 2001

      "Lembit Opik MP has asked Tony Blair to raise the potential
      dangers of asteroids and comets at the next G8 summit of world
      leaders and ask them to help to pay for a comprehensive Spaceguard
          -- Daily Express, 3 January 2001

    Daily Post/Liverpool Echo, 2 January 2001

    Daily Express, 3 January 2001


(4) CERES AND 2000 WR106
    Brian Marsden <>

    Cliff Cunningham <>
    Mayo Greenberg <>


    Dewey M. McLean <>

    John Mccue <>

     Michael Martin-Smith <>

     Andy Smith <>

     Bob Perry <>


From Daily Post/Liverpool Echo, 2 January 2001

Liverpool will learn later this month if it is to build Europe's warning
system for tracking earth-bound asteroids. The space watch system for
near-earth objects is being recommended for government approval. Science
minister Lord Sainsbury is expected to approve the construction of the
10m facility this month and Merseyside is in pole position to get the

Lord Sainsbury commissioned a task force to examine the need for the
telescope after scientists warned there was a genuine threat posed by
asteroids to the Earth.

Earth had nine "near misses" from catastrophic asteroid collisions in
the past nine years, experts revealed last year.

The super-telescope, which could create around 50 jobs, has already
received the backing of North West MPs. Politicians believe the project
should go to the North West after the region last year missed out on the
550m Diamond synchroton. The Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire, was
overlooked by the Government in favour of the Rutherford Appleton
Laboratory, in Oxfordshire.

Eleven North West MPs, MEPs Den Dover and Brian Simpson, Lord Alton of
Liverpool and Lord Wade of Chorlton, have pledged support for the
telescope. Science Fiction writer Sir Arthur c Clarke, creator of 2001:
A Space Odyssey, has also backed the telescope coming to Merseyside. [...]

A spokeswoman for the Department of Trade and Industry said last night:
"Lord Sainsbury will make his response to the task force report within
one month. But at this stage it is just speculation to talk about where
it would be based and how much it would cost."

Spaceguard UK has been lobbying the Government to commission John Moores
University's Telescope Technologies Ltd. For the project. TTL is a
subsidiary of JMU and is the only company in the UK designing and
producing professional astronomical telescopes.

Dr Benny Peiser, a JMU researcher and spokesman for [Spaceguard UK]
said: "It's far too early to celebrate. But it seems that the Government
realises that this holds a fantastic opportunity.

"For Liverpool, the implications of getting the telescope are quite
stunning. If the project was to get the go-ahead, Merseyside would
become the world's top producer of high-technology telescopes. It would
create between 50 and 60 new jobs and put Liverpool on a global map."

Copyright 2001, Daily Post


From Daily Express, 3 January 2001

Science Fiction guru Arthur C Clarke is backing a plan for Liverpool to
save mankind from Earth-bound asteroids.

This month, Science Minister Lord Sainsbury is due to say if funds will
be made available to build a 10million super-telescope, which would be
used to detect asteroids on a collision course with us.

Clarke believes Liverpool should be chosen for the Spaceguard programme
because it has a long tradition of constructing telescopes. In an open
letter to the city, he said:

"Liverpool has become a distinguished centre for this high-technology
industry. I think it would be most fitting if the engineers and
craftsmen of Merseyside built the telescope, for the benefit of the
whole country. Such an undertaking will be a significant technical
challenge but the result will contribute substantially to the protection
of our only home - the Earth."

The support of the author was welcomed yesterday in Liverpool, where it
is hoped the project will create up to 50 jobs.

Lord Mayor Eddie Clein said: "As a city we welcome and encourage any
initiative in new technology, especially one which will create
employment for Liverpool." Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik, whose
astronomer grandfather Ernst Opik pioneered the study of comets, said he
saw no reason why Liverpool should not be chosen to save the Earth.

"The expertise is there to build a telescope of this size," he said. "It
would only be a start because we would need up to six telescopes to
cover the entire sky. But it has to start somewhere and why not in

Mr Opik has asked Tony Blair to raise the potential dangers of asteroids
and comets at the next G8 summit of world leaders and ask them to help
to pay for a comprehensive Spaceguard programme.

Astronomers believe there are nearly 1,000 asteroids spinning around the
solar system which are large enough to wipe out mankind. Jay Tate, who
runs Spaceguard UK, an organisation of scientists which warns of the
dangers of asteroids, said: "The potential for catastrophe is now widely
accepted and at the moment the UK is sitting on its hands, hoping
someone will look out for us.

"Starting a programme would make us world leaders in this field. Failure
to act would be criminal."

Copyright 2001, Daily Express


From NearEarth.Net

By Dr Mark Kidger

A normally small and faint comet called 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak is
currently suffering a huge outburst and has reached binocular visibility
at magnitude 8 and even threatens to become brighter than Comet
McNaught-Hartley. First seen in 1858, this comet will reach perihelion
on January 6th. The orbital period is 5.43 years, one of the shortest
known. What makes the comet interesting is the fact that it's perihelion
distance is only just the Earth's orbit and the orbit is only slightly
inclined, so the comet can occasionally come very close to the Earth but
remaining near opposition and thus extremely well placed to observe in
the sky.

On this occasion the comet's apparition is a rather poor one. The
closest approach to the Earth, around Christmas Day, is at 225 million
kilometres and the comet was now expected to get as bright even as
magnitude 11. At the end of the first week in December the light curve
was behaving as expected. The comet was around magnitude 11.5 and not
particularly interesting. A week later though it was suddenly three
magnitudes brighter. An observation by the Australian comet observer
Andrew Pearce, made on December 18th, showed the comet to be magnitude 8
and apparently still rising in brightness. The comet seems to have
brightened still further since then; on December 20th two Czech
observers estimated it at close to magnitude 7.5, although the previous
night an Australian and a Brazilian observer had found the comet to be a
full magnitude fainter, albeit with moonlight interfering.

You can find a light curve of the comet from Japanese observations here.

At present the comet is in Virgo and a morning object only 45 degrees
from the Sun although it attains a reasonable altitude in the sky before
dawn. It may brighten further still. Over the next few weeks the comet
will maintain an almost constant position relative to the Earth in its
orbit and thus will stay at an almost constant distance from the Sun in
the sky and at an almost constant distance from the Earth. Any further
brightening will indicate that the outburst is still continuing.

Nobody actually knows what causes outbursts in comets. There are many
theories. Certainly, in some cases they are due to a fragmentation of
the nucleus. In others all we see is that a large dust and gas cloud is
suddenly expelled for no readily apparent reason. This may be due to
small eruptions, not unlike volcanic activity, on the surface of the
nucleus, where a small pocket of volatile ice suddenly sublimes and
breaks through the crust on the nucleus leading to a small explosion of
gas that blows dust and ice out into space. Many eruptions though take
place at great distance from the Sun where such violent sublimation is
not expected to occur.


(4) CERES AND 2000 WR106

From Brian Marsden <>

Dear Benny,

Your New Year's Eve CCNet with Duncan Steel's excellent article from The
Guardian on the Ceres bicentenary can now receive a most timely
supplement. Just as the discovery of Ceres as what we now know to be the
largest member of the Main Cisjovian Belt of Small Bodies ushered in the
nineteenth century, so does the discovery of what is currently the
largest known member of the Main Transneptunian Belt of Small Bodies
usher out the twentieth. Minor Planet Electronic Circular 2000-Y45,
issued slightly earlier on New Year's Eve, confirmed that 2000 WR106,
the Spacewatch discovery first announced a month earlier, is indeed a
bona fide member of the "cubewanos" or "classical Kuiper Belt". This
confirmation came as the result of the recognition, by German amateur
astronomers Andre Knoefel and Reiner Stoss, of images of 2000 WR106 on
sky-survey photographs taken with the Big Schmidt telescope at
Palomar back to 1955.  Rather than being--as was a distinct
possibility--on a more eccentric orbit, the object clearly has an orbit
with mean distance 43 AU, eccentricity 0.06 and inclination 17 degrees
to the ecliptic.

While it is very likely that larger cubewanos will still be found, there
is a pleasing affinity, both positionally and temporally, to the
cases of Ceres and 2000 WR106. Indeed, IAU Circular No. 7554 reports
measurements a few nights ago at the University of Hawaii by Dave Jewitt
and his colleagues indicating that 2000 WR106 has a diameter of, give or
take, 900 kilometers. And Ceres is just about the same size. (Pluto is
of course rather more than twice the size, but with their orbits in 2/3
resonance with Neptune and in some cases even Neptune-crossing, I am not
considering Pluto and the other "plutinos" as part of the outer Main
Belt, any more than Hilda and its companions in 3/2 resonance with
Jupiter are considered part of the inner one.)



From Cliff Cunningham <>
On this, the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Ceres, a website for
my book has been posted. Ordering information for The First Asteroid is
included, so please let your colleagues and science library know this
book will be available in a few weeks. Advance orders are being taken
now. An ISBN number is pending and will be posted on the website in a
few days.

Cliff Cunningham
(4276) Clifford

From Mayo Greenberg <>

Dear Dr. Peiser,

I am organizing a workshop on NEO's entitled "The Physical Properties of
Potential Earth Impactors: Know Your Enemy" to be held in Erice, Sicily
June 17-21,2001. Our emphasis will be on the properties of comets and
asteroids which we believe one must know in order to prepare optimum
mitigation proceedures. The meeting is part of the general program of
the Federation of World Scientists on Planetary Emergencies. Our
particular program is entitled Hazards from Cosmic Objects and we have
chosen the field of physical properties because we felt that inadequate
attention was being paid to this aspect of mitigation.

I will keep you informed as progress is made in the program of our

Happy New Year            

Mayo Greenberg




Perhaps your list members would like to know about Target Earth. Here is
my brief review.

TARGET EARTH, by Duncan Steel, is an elegantly written and beautifully
produced book published by ReaderUs Digest (ISBN 0-7621-0298-5). Its
format of two facing pages per topic allows Duncan to cover no less than
74 aspects of impacts including asteroids, craters, hazards,
catastrophism, near misses, history of the subject and so on. Lavishly
and tastefully illustrated, I heartily recommend this book as an
excellent gift for those friends or family members of all of the
subscribers to CCNet who might want to know what all the excitement is
about. At the same time, the expert who requires a quick reference to
key aspects of the full subject of cosmic impacts, especially if you
should want to prepare your own public lecture on the topic, will find
all you need to know right here. Well done, Duncan.



From: Dewey M. McLean <>

Comments on the CCNet posting titled "COSMIC WINTER HYPOTHESIS

Information presented at the American Geophysical Union's fall
meeting that the Chicxulub impact was too small to have triggered an
"impact winter" (global dust-induced blackout and refrigeration)
seems a major step forward in understanding the cause of the K-T mass

In 1980, at the time of publication of the Alvarez impact theory, I
began a search through the geobiological record for definitive
evidences of a K-T impact winter. After 10 years of searching, I did
not find any. I reported my findings at the _Chapman Conference on
Global Biomass Burning: Atmospheric, Climate, and Biospheric
Implications_ (Williamsburg, Virginia, March 1990). My paper, "Impact
winter in the global K-T extinctions: no definitive evidences," was
published in the proceedings volume titled _Global Biomass Burning:
Atmospheric, Climatic, and Biospheric Implications_ (ed. Joel S.
Levine, MIT Press, 569 pp., 1991). It can be accessed at:

Following are some quotes from the Conclusions of my paper.

"A combination [impact and Deccan Traps volcanism] model would have a
short-duration K-T boundary impact-induced greenhouse superimposed
upon, and intensifying, a long-duration volcano-induced K-T
transition greenhouse. Such unification would accommodate the K-T
boundary shocked minerals, and intensification of ecological
stresses, within the long-duration K-T transition carbon cycle and
bioevolutionary perturbations that are preserved in the record. This
unification, which accords with the actual record, offers a step
forward in isolating the cause of the extinctions while other details
are being sorted out down through the years."

Dewey M. McLean


From John Mccue <>

Dear Benny,

Could the comet, or comets, possibly causing the traumas around 850AD
actually have been seen? The excellent essay by James Palmer and Trevor
Palmer (CCNet, 5th.Dec.,2000) is supported by Barry Hetherington (1) who
points out comets seen in 836, 837 (Halley), two in 838, 840 (two,
accompanied by a report of a meteor shower in the same year(2)), 841
(two), 842, 844, 852, 853, 855, 857, 858, two in 864 (one observed as
yellowish), 866 ( noted as "comets appeared in the spring"), 867, 868
(three, one seen near Venus, another in January, and a third in
February), and 869. Most of these were recorded by Chinese observers,
but some by European. Although none of these comets are reported as
particularly spectacular, which one would have thought would be a
requirement of a giant, and possibly close-approaching, comet capable of
causing such devastation, at least they are evident. The culprit, such
as it may be, would certainly have been visible.

Further, Palmers' March 840 aurora is confirmed by Hetherington who
quotes "... a red sign like a fire appeared in the northern part of the
sky" (3). Are meteor shower reports though more significant than aurora
sightings where evidence for comets is being sought? The previously
mentioned meteor shower of 840 is preceded by perhaps a more spectacular
shower in 839. Then, "more than 200 large and small shooting stars
jointly glided westwards; they had trails measuring 25 to 60 degrees.."
The shower was observed by Chinese astronomers and lasted from April
until May (2).

Certainly something serious did happen around these years of the Middle


(1) Hetherington, Barry, "A Chronicle of Pre-telescopic Astronomy",
(Wiley, 1996)

(2) Dall'Olmo, Umberto, "Meteors, meteor showers and meteorites in the
Middle Ages", (Journal for the History of Astronomy, 9, 123-134, (1978))

(3) Dall'Olmo, Umberto, "An additional list of auroras from european
sources", (Journal of Geophysical Research, April, 1979, 1525-1535)

Dr. John McCue, FRAS,
Stockton Sixth Form College, UK

MODERATOR'S NOTE: For more evidence of environmental disturbances during
the mid 9th century AD in the southern hemisphere, see Richardson B Gill
(2000) The Great Maya Droughts, University of New Mexico Press, pp.


From Michael Martin-Smith <>

Dear Benny,
I found Anatoly Zaitsev's  Russian perspective on possible cosmic
disasters very encouraging in that, alone among most such discussions,
he considers the Noah's Ark idea of space refuges for some or much of
humanity, given enough warning time. New long period comets (like
Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake) give very little warning time- only a few
months at best.
His great fellow countryman, Konstantin Tsiolkovskii, would, I think,
have gone much further and proposed that, as well as looking on
cosmonautics as simply a lifeboat for Humans on a temporary basis, we
should consider the evolution of a cosmic human civilization as the
natural next stage in evolution - rather perhaps as dry land was once
colonized from a primordial ocean.
In this context I would see the work done on Mir, Salyut, Skylab and
the International Space Station as the first tentative foosteps towards
an evolutionary Cosmic Destiny which which proposes that Humanity's
actual purpose in the Universe is to bring Life and Mind out into the
presently empty depths of space. Writers such as J.D. Bernal and Gerard
O'Neill have taken such ideas of Island Space colonies much further,
using solar energy and asteroid/lunar/cometrary raw materials. Space
based agriculture has also made advances in the last decade or so.
O'Neill's "offspring", the Princeton University based Space Studies
Institute, has for the past 25 years fostered and carried out key
research projects aimed at enabling the opening up of Space, as
Tsiolkovskii envisaged, funded by thousands of individual and corporate
I believe that this enormous development will not be possible unless we
self-consciously adopt the expansion of Humanity into Space as a goal in
itself and so have built a cosmic civilization BEFORE any such impact
threatens us. Such a goal will need all our science and technology over
many generations but will actually do far more than this - it will give
our civilization a unifying spiritual strength and purpose which we
currently lack. Decadence and triviality seem the likeliest alternatives
on offer.
Such a view sounds, I know, religious or ideological; but I doubt that
humanity can sustain a goal over several generations in any other way -
look at the Pyramids and Cathedrals of fomer times ; they were not build
for profit, or for purely logical reasons. It can be argued that, both
from a Darwinian and a sociological point of view, the religious impulse
serves to enable courses of action which are conducive to longterm
survival or growth, but which do not generate any obvious short-term
profit. Religious sceptics, on reflection, do wonder exactly what role
in Evolution the religious impulse serves, since it is manifestly deeply
rooted in human nature and yet, from their viewpoint, based on
delusions. Possibly in the long-term need to expand into Space, when
contrasted with the large costs and lack of immediate monetary gain, we
can now see a hitherto undiscovered case in point where such
supra-rational impulses as Religion find their ultimate justification?
We can see Island Space colonies as the ultimate "promised land of
milk and honey" with the proviso that we have to take with us our own
milk and honey, and learn to create it there for ourselves - enter the
creative microbiologists, genetic artists, and food technologists of
the New Millennium. Adulthood for the human species clearly demands a
more hands-on approach to the business of creative stewardship than the
conventional religions of childhood allow!
We will not survive unless our species continues to favour science,
technology, and exploration - and the space sciences and cosmonautics
are proven to be the best stimulant for our children to undertake these
difficult studies. Some politicians can accept that our future will
increasingly depend on a scientifically and technically competent new
generation, since Pol Pot's great simplification has shown us the
alternative path. In the sense that there is a strong tide of
anti-science and technology at large, we cannot for long avoid a
quasi-ideological approach to these questions, since it is well known
that the best counter to an Idea is another Idea. The Idea of building a
Human Destiny in Space, unlike the anti-scientific pastoralism of the
more vocal Greens, is at least a positive force - unlike them, we can be
FOR something rather than mere Antis. That in itself is unusual!
I believe all of us on the Cambridge Conference Network should more
actively and specifically promote the idea of a human future in Space -
albeit in the longer term - since this is clearly the best hope of a
human(e) future for our species. We at least know, increasingly, what
the true stakes are.
We need a new creed - perhaps based on Cosmic Diaspora and Man as a
"Chosen" species(?)  - to enliven the Cosmos. This is not "politically
correct",  but could be our best hope for the coming Millennium.
Yours sincerely
Dr Michael Martin-Smith,
President of Space Age Associates


From Andy Smith <>

Hi Benny and CCNet;

We enjoyed reading the Russian inputs on Planetary Defense (12/21).

For some time, and in many ways, the U.S., Russia and many other
governments, institutions and volunteers have been making major
contributions to our growing preparedness effort.

We are all in agreement, I think, regarding the extreme seriousness of
the threat. These inputs make clear several important considerations
that must be addressed, as we proceed.

Combined Terrestrial and Orbiting Early-Warning System

We are well on the way to a good terrestrial network of asteroid
telescopes (AT) and we have a terrific data center (MPC) and an
excellent effort, in the NEOdys. Now, we need to add an orbiting arm
(which need not be expensive), seek to raise the global annual NEO
discovery rate to the 4 digit level and broaden the sub-kilometer
discovery effectiveness.

Openness Is Important

We think it is important, as we proceed, to find ways to ensure that all
discovery data is reported. Openness and trust are vital elements in the
development of a fast-moving World program and, as many have suggested,
there can be reasons to hide data. The IAU and the United Nations could
perhaps help with this. We should continue to discuss this in this
friendly forum. It may be very desirable to have all AT facilities open.

First-Generation Defense Systems.

We have the building blocks for the first-generation systems. There are
several excellent launchers in use, in the Zenit, Delta and other
vehicle families and there are several great asteroid/comet spacecraft
in the world inventory.

It is very desirable to conduct joint interception and deflection
systems and operations analyses and to identify and develop the
necessary adaption kits, in order to minimize the time required to respond to an
asteroid/comet emergency. The SPE Conferences have already examined many
of the interception/deflection technical issues and that information
will help to expedite the needed systems analyses. The defensive scheme
outlined by Dr Zaitsev, at the end of the 12/21 report, is especially
interesting - we want to study it further.

The first-generation systems can probably deflect objects in the 100
meter range (our ACE Class 1 and 2 objects) and the required deflection
energy levels will probably be in the low-megaton range. The
second-generation(heavy) systems will require larger launchers,
spacecraft and deflection systems. Such systems could probably deflect
most of the threat population (95%+) - and they all use off-the-shelf
hardware. In some cases, multiple encounters may be necessary (a real
test of a global system).

Again, we welcome the inputs from Drs. Zaitsev and Simonenko and we hope
they and their colleagues will continue to feel at home on the CCNet. We
are looking forward to the SPE 2000 presentations, on the Web, and we
appreciate the effort our colleagues are making to get them to us. Our
ability, to protect ourselves and our planet, is as much a test of our
global ability to understand each other and to work togeather, as it is
a test of our technology.

Here's to a great leap forward, for us, toward effective planetary
defense, in the New Year, and let's all pray for our continued
protection from the next "hammer".

Happy New Year

Andy Smith

From Bob Perry <>


Recently, Dr. Christian Gritzner informed me that ESA-TT-1349, an
English translation of his PhD thesis, "Analysis of Alternative Systems
for Orbit Alteration of Near-Earth Asteroids and Comets" might soon be
available on the web. Today I found

"The NEO impact hazard and Option for Mitigation" a nine page Adobe pdf.

Perhaps this URL should be publicized in CCNet.


Bob Perry, ~ 40 N 90 W

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