Date sent:        Wed, 04 Feb 1998 11:15:37 -0500 (EST)
From:             Benny J Peiser
Subject:          CC DIGEST, 04/02/98
Priority:         NORMAL


    Alan W. Harris

    Ron Baalke

    Jim Benson

    D.A. Gurnett et al., University of Iowa

    W.V. Boynton et al., University of Arizona


From: Alan W. Harris

Dear Benny,

a) The asteroid's name is 1620 GEOGRAPHOS.

b) Geographos has been extensively observed both optically (e.g.
Magnusson and 47 other co-authors, Icarus 123, 227-244, 1996) and by
radar (Ostro et al. Nature 375, 474-477, 1995), and has failed to
reveal the slightest irregularity in its rotational properties from
these very extensive data sets. Thus it is very likely that the
claimed results of the recent Ukrainian observations are spurious.


From: Ron Baalke

Planetary Society Expedition to Belize Goes On Line
Society Web Site Offers Daily Reports on Latest Expedition
Investigating the Demise of the Dinosaurs

From now until February 1, 1998, The Planetary Society's third
expedition to Belize is searching for evidence of the asteroid impact
that ended the age of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. This
time everyone is invited to participate via this web site,

where field reports -- including images -- from the expedition will
be posted on a daily basis.

Team leaders Adriana Ocampo of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and
Kevin Pope of Geo Eco Research are again leading a group of Planetary
Society volunteers on a geological adventure into the jungles of
Belize. Past Society expeditions to the region collected samples of
ejecta blanket material -- debris blasted from the Chicxulub crater
when the asteroid crashed just off the coast of the Yucatan. The
crater, now buried under the accumulated sediment of millions of
years, is 200 to 300 kilometers across (about 124 to 186 miles

Ocampo said, "In this third expedition to Belize, we will continue
our quest to build a more complete picture of what really happened
when a comet or asteroid collided with Earth and changed our world

"We have been tantalized by unique evidence from the impact found
only in Belize, and this expedition will allow us to better
understand how impacts affect Earth and the other planets in our
solar system."

Scientific objectives of the 1998 expedition include collecting
samples; following the ejecta blanket from north to south Belize to
see how far it extends; and mapping the distribution of ballistically
deformed materials, such as "Pook's pebbles" -- unique features that
were discovered in Belize on a prior Society expedition.

This expedition will also work on an analog to Mars by correlating
their findings in Belize with similar features found on the martian
surface during the Pathfinder mission.

A digital camera, donated to the Planetary Society by Epson, will be
used to record images of scientists and volunteers at work, the sites
being studied, and some of the geological samples discovered. These
images, along with daily field reports, will be posted on the
Society's web site. Expedition team member Robert Cozzi, well-known
author of six books on computer programming, and his daughter Theresa
will post the reports and photograph the expedition.

Discoveries from the 1995 and 1996 trips to Belize include

* The identification of a new species of crab that went extinct at
  the end of the Cretaceous period, named Carcineretes planetarius in
  honor of the Planetary Society;

* Identification of shock quartz in northern Belize;

* Identification of an iridium anomaly at Albion in northern Belize;

* Identification of possible condensate material from the impact's
  vapor plume, including Pook's pebbles.

While this is the Planetary Society's third expedition to Belize, it
is the fourth sent by the Society to study evidence of the Chicxulub
impact. Another expedition went to Italy in 1996 to study core
samples from that same time period.


From: Jim Benson


Scientists and researchers will be able to submit proposals for
flying instruments and experiments on NEAP (our Near Earth Asteroid
Prospector mission), and for purchasing data from SpaceDev's NEAP
instruments under the next NASA Discovery Announcement of
Opportunity, due out on March 20.

Below is the content of a letter to me from the NASA Office of Space

National Aeronautics and
Space Administration
Washington, DC 20546-0001

January 22, 1998

Mr. James Benson
P. O. Box 2121
31557 Aspen Ridge Road
Steamboat Springs, CO 80477

Dear Mr. Benson:

The Near Earth Asteroid Prospector (NEAP) mission represents an
innovative and interesting approach to acquiring scientific data
through a private sector initiative. You have asked us to assess the
possible place of NEAP in the Discovery program. The Discovery
Program addresses the scientific goals of the Solar System
Exploration Theme and the Extra-Solar Planetary Systems goals of the
Astronomical Search for Origins Theme. NEAP clearly falls within
this scientific scope. In short, proposals to participate in the
NEAP mission are within the scope of the Discovery Program.

In addition, the Discovery Program objectives (section 2.2 of the
draft AO) include: as a practical goal "Perform frequent,
high-quality scientific investigations that assure the highest
science value for the cost;" and as a supporting objective "Pursue
innovative ways of doing business." The basic approach envisioned by
the developers of the NEAP initiative is clearly an innovative new
way of doing business. Because this approach is new and untried, we
cannot, a priori, determine that the particular opportunity afforded
will be the most cost-efficient. Such a determination must come from
the detailed review process.

Finally, we note that proposing user provided instruments for the
available pods [canisters] would appear to be potential "Mission of
Opportunity" (section 2.3) investigations.

As the present draft is intended for comment, you should examine the
draft, and may offer suggested changes. We should note that actual
success or failure of any new concept proposed in response to the
Discovery AO will depend on the quality of the science, the
reasonableness of cost, and other factors, and will be judged in the
likely context of a number of excellent competing proposals to the


Carl B. Pilcher
Science Program Director (Acting)
Solar System Exploration
Office of Space Science

The Discovery program is open to all kinds of organizations including
universities, for-profit companies, individuals, non-profits, etc. It
is also open to both domestic and international participation. This
means that prospects for NEAP are very wide and diverse.

NEAP is an example of adding more missions to those of traditional
national space agencies, and results in more opportunities for more
scientists and researchers.

Because Discovery, and therefore NEAP, is open to both science and
new technology experiments, we expect a variety of proposals to be
sent to NASA for possible funding of those instruments and

If you are a scientist or technology researcher, now is the time to
be thinking about preparing a proposal for NASA for your experiment.
I believe it might be possible for NASA to fund one or more complete
missions, but because of the low cost of rides on NEAP, funding
several experiments for such rides would provide NASA with the
equivalent of an additional complete mission, but at a fraction of
the cost.

Finally, because the NEAP launch will be insured, NEAP offers a very
low risk approach to space and planetary exploration. Unlike
government missions, if there is a disaster, insurance will pay for
replacement instruments and a new launch, and the only loss will be

Only a short amount of time is available for sending a proposal to
NASA. The official opening of the Announcement of Opportunity is
scheduled for March 20, and all proposals must be submitted within
60 days.

Please let me know if you or an associate is thinking about or
planning to submitting a NEAP-based proposal to NASA under the
Discovery program.


Jim Benson
Chairman, CEO


D.A. Gurnett*), J.A. Ansher, W.S. Kurth, and L.J. Granroth:
Micron-sized dust particles detected in the outer solar system
by the Voyager 1 and 2 plasma wave instruments. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH
LETTERS, 1997, Vol.24, No.24, pp.3125-3128


During the Voyager 1 and 2 flybys of the outer planets it has been
demonstrated that the plasma wave instrument can detect small dust
particles striking the spacecraft. In this paper, we examine the
Voyager plasma wave data for dust impacts in the interplanetary
medium at heliocentric radial distances ranging from 6 to 60
astronomical units (AU). The results show that a small but persistent
level of dust impacts exists out to at least 30 to 50 AU. The average
number density of these particles is about 2 x 10(-8) m(-3), and the
average mass of the impacting particles is believed to be a few times
10(-11) g, which corresponds to particle diameters in the micron
range. Possible sources of these particles are planets, moons,
asteroids, comets, and the interstellar medium. Of these, comets
appear to be the most likely source. The number densities are only
weakly dependent on ecliptic latitude, which indicates that the
particles probably do not originate from planets, moons, or
asteroids. Comparisons with interstellar dust fluxes measured in the
inner regions of the solar system by the Ulysses spacecraft indicate
that the particles are not of interstellar origin. Copyright 1998,
Institute for Scientific Information Inc.


W.V. Boynton*), L.C.dUston, D.T. Young, J.I. Lunine, J.H, Waite,
S.H. Bailey, J.J. Berthelier, J.L. Bertaux, V. Borrel, M.F. Burke,
B.A. Cohen, D.H. Mccomas, J.E. Nordholt, L.G. Evans, and J.I.
Trombka: The determination of ice composition with instruments on
cometary landers. ACTA ASTRONAUTICA, 1997, Vol.40, No.9, pp.663-674


The determination of the composition of materials that make up comets
is essential in trying to understand the origin of these primitive
objects. The ices especially could be made in several different
astrophysical settings including the solar nebula, protosatellite
nebulae of the giant planets, and giant molecular clouds that predate
the formation of the solar system. Each of these environments makes
different ices with different composition. In order to-understand the
origin of comets, one needs to determine the composition of each of
the ice phases. For example, it is of interest to know that comets
contain carbon monoxide, CO, but it is much more important to know
how much of it is a pure solid phase, is trapped in clathrate
hydrates, or is adsorbed on amorphous water ice. In addition,
knowledge of the isotopic composition of the constituents will help
determine the process that formed the compounds. Finally, it is
important to understand the bulk elemental composition of the
nucleus. When these data are compared with solar abundances, they put
strong constraints on the macro-scale processes that formed the
comet. A differential scanning calorimeter (DSC) and an evolved-gas
analyzer (EGA) will make the necessary association between molecular
constituents and their host phases. This combination of instruments
takes a small (tens of mg) sample of the comet and slowly heats it in
a sealed oven. As the temperature is raised, the DSC precisely
measures the heat required, and delivers the gases to the EGA.
Changes in the heat required to raise the temperature at a controlled
rate are used to identify phase transitions, e.g., crystallization of
amorphous ice or melting of hexagonal ice, and the EGA correlates the
gases released with the phase transition. The EGA consists of two
mass spectrometers run in tandem. The first mass spectrometer is a
magnetic-sector ion-momentum analyzer (MAG), and the second is an
electrostatic time-of-flight analyzer (TOF). The TOF acts as a
detector for the MAG and serves to resolve ambiguities between
fragments of similar mass such as CO and N-2. Because most of the
compounds of interest for the volatile ices are simple, a gas
chromatograph is not needed and thus more integration time is
available to determine isotopic ratios. A gamma-ray spectrometer
(GRS) will determine the elemental abundances of the bulk cometary
material by determining the flux of gamma rays produced from the
interaction of the cometary material with cosmic-ray produced
neutrons. Because the gamma rays can penetrate a distance of several
tens of centimeters, a large volume of material is analyzed. The
measured composition is, therefore, much more likely to be
representative of the bulk comet than a very small sample that
might have lost some of its volatiles. Making these measurements on a
lander offers substantial advantages over trying to address similar
objectives from an orbiter. For example, an orbiter instrument can
determine the presence and isotopic composition of CO in the cometary
coma, but only a lander can determine the phase(s) in which the CO is
located and separately determine the isotopic composition of each
reservoir of CO. The bulk composition of the nucleus might be
constrained from separate orbiter analyses of dust and gas in the
coma, but the result will be very model dependent, as the ratio of
gas to dust in the comet will vary and will not necessarily be equal
to the bulk value. (C) 1997 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd..


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