Date sent:        Fri, 16 Jan 1998 09:24:23 -0500 (EST)
From:             Benny J Peiser
Subject:          CC-DIGEST, 16 January 1998
Priority:         NORMAL






======================================================================= (1)

From: Phil Burns

News Services
University of Arizona

From: Lori Stiles, UA News Services, 520-621-1877,

Contact(s):David A. Kring, 520-621-2024,;
James D. Kriegh, 520-297-4161; John Blennert, 520-325-8585; Ingrid
Monrad, 520-297-9454

January 15, 1998

Gold Basin Meteorite -- Arizona's newest official meteorite is a unique
'fossil' strewn across large area

(NOTE -- Kriegh and Monrad have donated five fragments of the Gold
Basin meteorite to the UA Mineral Museum, Flandrau Science Center,
where they are on display.)

No eyewitness recorded the fall of Arizona's newest official meteorite. The
unique "Gold Basin" meteorite exploded over more than 50 square miles of
Mohave County in northwest Arizona at the end of the last Ice Age.

A small field team from Tucson, including a retired civil engineering
professor who discovered the meteorite, began collecting pieces of the find
two years ago. But it will take years to gather the remaining stones and
assemble the details of what happened, according to The University of
Arizona scientist who is part of the team working to recover the entire

"As far as I know, this is the first 'fossil' strewn field found
outside of Antarctica," said David A. Kring, geologist and senior
research associate with the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at The
University of Arizona in Tucson. That the meteorite fragments survived
exposure to the elements for 20 millennia says that conditions even during
the last of the Ice Age must have been fairly mild, he added.

Kring, who directs the Lunar Lab's Meteorite Recovery Program, did a
series of analyzes to classify the meteorite. Classification is
requisite for a meteorite to be officially recognized by the Meteorite
Nomenclature Committee, the international body of scientists who assess
meteorite finds. The Gold Basin meteorite this week brings the number of
officially approved Arizona meteorites to 31.

Radiocarbon tests at the University date the Gold Basin meteorite at
20,000 years. Kring theorizes that 20,000 years ago, a small asteroid
hit Earth's upper atmosphere with an energy of between ten to 1,000
tons of TNT. Preliminary evidence suggests the asteroid may have been a
meter, perhaps two meters, in diameter. It lost energy as it plowed through
Earth's ocean of air, then it exploded, probably 10 to 30 kilometers above
the ground.

All other known strewn fields of this type of asteroid, called a type
L4 ordinary chondrite, are "witnessed falls," or those seen to explode and
fall to Earth, Kring said. L4 ordinary chondrites are relics of the original
debris that orbited the sun when it coalesced. The debris accreted to form a
small planetary body about 4.56 billion years ago, probably in an orbit
between the planets Mars and Jupiter, the region now known as the asteroid

"Gold Basin is also special because it is one of the most numerous
collections of fragments ever found," Kring said. "We've found more
than 2,000 fragments so far, and it wouldn't surprise me if we found
another 10,000 fragments, in addition."

James D. Kriegh of Oro Valley discovered the first two fragments of the Gold
Basin meteorite on Nov. 24, 1995. Kriegh is a retired UA civil engineering
professor and member of the Desert Gold Diggers, a group whose members spend
their spare time gold prospecting. A few years ago, Kriegh heard a talk by
Kring on how to identify meteorites. Kriegh soon began successful searches
for meteorites, including the Greaterville meteorite he found in November

Kriegh said he and the others garnered between one and 140 pieces of
the meteorite on later field trips. Collecting meteorites that fell to Earth
20,000 years ago after sitting in space for more than 4 billion years "is
every bit as exciting as searching for gold," he added.

Kring, Kriegh, and John Blennert and Ingrid Monrad, also of the Oro
Valley-Tucson area, collaborate in collecting and mapping the Gold
Basin meteorite fragments, which range in size from a peanut to a
3-pound softball that Blennert recovered. So far, the collection weighs more
than 34 pounds. The strewn field covers private and federal land, so the
Gold Basin meteorite recovery team has been coordinating the project with
the relevant federal authorities.

"It's really a joy to have a person like Kriegh involved in this,"
Kring said. "I told him these are the things we need to do to preserve the
scientific integrity of the site, and he did absolutely everything I asked
him to do. The team mapped the location of every fragment as it was found,
and they recorded how deep it was in the soil or if it was found right at
the surface."

"We have not yet hit the edge of the Gold Basin strewn field in any
direction," Kring said. "We don't know how big this is going to be,
eventually. Every time we go a little farther, we find more meteorites. The
goal has been to find as many of these fragments as possible. We wanted to
find the limits of this field before making it public. The problem is, the
field is just too big. We may be collecting samples for another decade."

The largest collection of stones from a single meteorite is also in
Arizona, Kring added. The community of Holbrook was pelted with 14,000
fragments of a meteorite that exploded in the early evening sky of July 19,
1912. One fragment severed the branch of a tree when it fell, witnesses
reported. Fragments from the meteor, an estimated half-meter in diameter,
showered to Earth over an ellipse roughly 1.5 square miles -- a much smaller
area than the fall site of the Gold Basin meteorite, which is estimated to
be two-to-four times larger than the Holbrook asteroid.

An important distinction between the Holbrook fall and the Gold Basin
meteorite strewn field is that Holbrook is a classic case in which
important information on the distribution of the fragments was lost. A
mineral collector in Philadelphia paid Holbrook residents to collect the
pieces and ship them to him on the train, Kring said. In the Gold Basin
case, by contrast, he added, "I can tell you precisely where this sample was
collected, thanks to the efforts of the great field team."

Mapping exactly how meteorite fragments are strewn across the impact
site is no trivial academic exercise. Mapping the strewn field to
reconstruct how the meteorite fragmented should help scientists
understand what causes meteorites to break apart or survive intact as
they blast through the atmosphere, Kring noted. This is of great
interest to scientists trying to understand the hazards of asteroid

Given that the world's growing population is expanding over more of our
planet's surface, relatively common collisions with small asteroids like the
Gold Basin meteorite and the Holbrook meteorite become growing hazards,
Kring added.

Ask the astronomers who search the skies for near-Earth crossing
asteroids: They will tell you a future significant collision is not
a matter of if, but of when.


From The "JPL Universe"
Special issue: 1997 in review
January 9, 1998

Planning begins on asteroid 'nano-rover'

A formal project office was established in 1997 to manage the U.S.
contribution to the Japanese-managed Muses-C mission to collect and
return to Earth a sample from an asteroid.

This innovative mission will use new flight technology, including solar
electric propulsion, to send a spacecraft to asteroid 4660 Nereus and
deliver a JPL-developed rover, which measures about the size of a shoebox,
to the asteroid's surface. The Japanese Muses-C spacecraft will also fire
explosive charges into the asteroid, collect the samples that are ejected
from the impacts, and return the samples to Earth in a capsule for
laboratory analysis. The mission is scheduled for launch in 2002.

"This represents an opportunity for the U.S. and Japan's space
engineers and scientists to combine their expertise to achieve major
science and technology goals in a cost-constrained environment," said
Ross Jones, project manager for the U.S. portion of the mission called
Muses-C ("N" stands for "NASA"). Overall management of the Muses-C project
resides at Japan's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science.

In addition to providing the rover, JPL will arrange for the testing of the
Muses-C reentry heat shield at NASA's Ames Research Center, arrange for
supplemental Deep Space Network tracking of the spacecraft, and assist in
spacecraft navigation. JPL's responsibilities also include arranging for
recovery of the return capsule and performance of work to meet the
requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.

The asteroid samples will be returned to a landing site in the U..S, and
American and Japanese investigators will collaborate on shared data from the
rover and the spacecraft. In 1997, the JPL Muses-CN project team completed
hardware and software integration of a nano-rover prototype. Performance
evaluations of the camera and spectrometer for the rover also began, as did
research and analysis of navigation and sample reentry work. Preliminary
plans for the heat shield design review and testing are in place at the Ames
Research Center.

Muses-CN project highlights at JPL in the coming year will include the
completion of the rover engineering model design, and release of the
announcement of opportunity to the science community, beginning the
selection process for scientists who will be investigators on the project.


From The "JPL Universe"
Special issue: 1997 in review
January 9, 1998

Stardust mission to start spacecraft assembly, test

Stardust, the "faster, better, cheaper" Discovery Program mission that will
send a spacecraft to gather a sample from a comet, has met the milestones
necessary to begin assembly and test of the spacecraft hardware and software
in early January at Lockheed Martin Astronautics in Denver.

Scheduled for launch in February 1999, the Stardust spacecraft will
embark on a seven-year journey through the coma and to within about 150
kilometers of the nucleus of Comet Wild-2 (pronounced "VILT-2). It will be
the first space mission to gather dust and other material from a comet and
bring it back to Earth for scientific analysis.

Stardust's scientific bounty from its five-year voyage will also
include samples of the interstellar dust that passes through the solar
system. Return of this interstellar material will provide scientists with
their first opportunity for laboratory study of the composition of the
interstellar medium.

"We've experienced good cost and schedule performance in 1997," said
Stardust Project Manager Dr. Kenneth Atkins. "We've learned lessons
from previous Discovery projects like Mars Pathfinder, and we've been
working to leverage common efficiencies with the other Mars projects
being worked by JPL and Lockheed Martin." The project finalized its
designs in June and has completed and collected almost all the hardware and
software components in preparation for the system assembly and test, Atkins

In February, Stardust mission engineers from JPL and Lockheed Martin
will convene for a parachute drop test for the Stardust sample return
reentry capsule system on the snowy desert plateau of the Utah Test and
Training Range near Salt Lake City. The test range is the scheduled delivery
site for Stardust's sample return in January 2006.

Comet Wild-2 is a 'fresh' comet that was recently (in 1974) deflected
by Jupiter's gravity from an earlier orbit lying much farther out in
the solar system. Having spent most of the last 4.6 billion years in
the coldest, most distant reaches of the solar system, Wild-2
represents a well-preserved example of the fundamental building blocks out
of which the solar system formed.

Both the comet and interstellar dust samples will be collected in
aerogel, a lightweight transparent silica gel, the lowest density solid
material in the world. (Aerogel was most recently used as a lightweight
insulating material to protect the Mars Pathfinder Sojourner's electronics
from the harsh, cold climate of Mars.)

In November, the project received tens of thousands of responses to its
invitation to the public to "send your name to a comet." JPL's Microdevices
Lab will etch the names on a silicon wafer that will be placed on the
Stardust reentry capsule. The names, collected in partnership with The
Planetary Society, will make a round trip to Comet Wild 2, returning to
Earth in the sample return capsule.


From: Ron Baalke


STARDUST is the fourth of several flight missions in NASA's Discovery
program. The goal of the Discovery program is to design small, less
expensive spacecraft with specific scientific goals that can be built
in 36 months or less. Mars Pathfinder and Lunar Prospector are examples of
Discovery missions chosen in the past. More information on this  exciting
project can be found on the Internet at:

The spacecraft will launch in February 1999 on board an expendable
launch vehicle and rendezvous with Comet Wild 2 in January 2004, coming
within 150 kilometers (93 miles) of the comet's nucleus. The spacecraft will
be the first ever to collect dust spewed from a comet and return it to Earth
for detailed analysis. The comet samples are made up of ancient pre-solar
interstellar grains and material that condensed in the solar nebula, a
diffuse cloud of gas and dust from which the Sun and planets were formed. A
sample return capsule will reenter Earth's atmosphere and land on a dry lake
bed in Utah in January, 2006.


Jet Propulsion Laboratory's (JPL) STARDUST Outreach Opportunity Program is
implementing a nation-wide teacher training initiative and developing
educational modules. This effort is targeted at grades 4-8.

Initially, 10 STARDUST Educator Fellows will be recruited from around
the country to help field test the STARDUST educational modules and
Teacher Training Workshop. This initial group will help test and modify the
workshop presentation. An additional Announcement of Opportunity will be
distributed in late spring/summer 1998 to solicit candidates from which an
additional 15 Educator Fellows will be selected and trained in fall 1998.

Candidates selected for the STARDUST Educator Fellowship will receive:

* an all-expenses-paid intensive training workshop on: the STARDUST
  mission; science and educational aspects necessary to effectively
  present the STARDUST related topics; and comets and other small Solar
  System bodies. This will take place on three to-be-determined days during
  April 26-May 2 in Denver, Colorado at Lockheed Martin Astronautics.

* a crash course on presentation strategies and a complete teacher
  training presenter package to use for STARDUST workshops

* priority updates and mailings on the latest STARDUST mission
  information and materials

* materials to help plan and promote STARDUST workshops

* continued contact with the STARDUST science team to answer questions
  and to facilitate discussion

The STARDUST Educator Fellowship Team will reflect a geographically and
institutionally diverse mix of presenters from a variety of environments -
science centers/museums; school districts; universities; educational
organizations; etc. - to ensure a diverse team and reach.

In return, selected Fellows must commit to conducting a minimum of two
educator training workshops per year (approved by the STARDUST Education
Outreach Team) and to sharing evaluation information from those workshops
with the STARDUST educational partners.

The training will provide Fellows with a unique opportunity to interact with
STARDUST Project scientists and engineers. The Education Outreach Team will
serve as a liaison for the Fellows to facilitate the dissemination of new
information and continued contact with the STARDUST Fellowship Team.

While a variety of factors will be used in the final selection, the
profile of ideal STARDUST Educator Fellows includes:

* actively teaching or conducting teacher training in a formal or
  informal science environment (e.g., school district, science center,
  museum, educational organization);

* willing to conduct a minimum of two STARDUST Teacher Training
  Workshops on their own during each year they are involved with the

* has a written commitment from their host institution (current
  employer or sponsoring organization) to provide release time for the
  Teacher Training and an expressed willingness to support the candidate in
  conducting at least two STARDUST Teacher Training Workshops per year;

* willing to submit a resume, two letters of reference and a two-page
  proposal outlining their interest in STARDUST and how they envision
  sharing the educational activities for which they will be trained;

* a commitment to provide timely reports and assessment information
  back to the STARDUST Education Outreach Team.



STARDUST Educator Fellows will be chosen from extensive networks of
classroom teachers, curriculum specialists, and museum/science center
educators. The STARDUST Educator Fellowship Team will be selected in
order to provide a geographic and institutional mix of presenters from a
variety of environments: science centers/museums; school districts;
universities; educational organizations; etc., ensuring a diverse team of
STARDUST Fellows across the country. An announcement of those selected will
be made by March 6, 1998.

Please contact Kerri Beisser at 703/683-9740 for applications to the

Attn.: Kerri Beisser - STARDUST Educator Fellowship Proposals
Challenger Center for Space Science Education
1029 North Royal Street Suite 300
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

703-683-7546 FAX

CCCMENU CCC for 1998