CCNet 50/2001 - 30 March 2001

"A giant comet in the distant reaches of our solar system has an
extremely large, elongated orbit that can't be explained by the
gravitational pull from the giant planets in their current positions.
The finding is the first solid evidence that a big planet once roamed the
farthest outskirts of the solar system; maybe Neptune, before it settled
down, the researchers say, or a mysterious, Mars-sized planet that
could still be lurking there."
--Govert Schilling, inScight, 29 March 2001

"In their 27 March article on CCNet Fred Hoyle & Chandra
Wickramasinghe present another theory of glacial cycling: "Cycles of
glaciation with an average period of ~100kyr are mediated by cometary
bolides." The reasoning is that "the average frequency of [comet
fragment impact] per 100kyr is remarkably close to the mean length of the
glacial cycle." However, these 100 Ka cycles are actually
surprisingly regular, a fact that could not be explained by random-cycle
impact causation."
--Hermann Burchard, 30 March 2001

"Duncan Steel asked if there was a distinct word to describe the
fear of dying due to an asteroid or comet impact? It is a time
honoured tradition that scientists are able to just make up a new word
if one isn't available, its one of the few perks of the job. So what
about ARMAGEDDAPHOBIA - the fear of large impacts (or alternatively the fear
that we'd actually use Bruce Willis as the Earth's last line of
--Matthew Genge, 30 March 2001

    Andrew Yee <>

    The Register Citizen, 29 March 2001

    Spaceflight Now, 29 March 2001


    Christian Gritzner <>

    Insurance Net, 30 March 2001

    Colin Keay <>

    Andy Nimmo <>

    Hermann Burchard <>

     Krot AN, Meibom A, Russell SS, Alexander CMO, Jeffries TE, Keil K

     Shu FH, Shang H, Gounelle M, Glassgold AE, Lee T

     Matthew Genge <>


From Andrew Yee <>

[Extracted from inScight, Academic Press,]

Thursday, 29 March 2001, 5 pm PST

Signs of a Hidden Planet?

A giant comet in the distant reaches of our solar system has an extremely
large, elongated orbit that can't be explained by the gravitational pull
from the giant planets in their current positions. The finding is the first
solid evidence that a big planet once roamed the farthest outskirts of the
solar system; maybe Neptune, before it settled down, the researchers say, or
a mysterious, Mars-sized planet that could still be lurking there.

The supercomet, 2000 CR105, was first spotted in February 2000 and is some
400 kilometers wide. It has a highly elliptical orbit well beyond Neptune,
the outermost giant planet in the solar system. There are hundreds of other
icy "Trans-Neptunian Objects" (TNOs) which are believed to have been flung
into their eccentric orbits early in the solar system's history by the
gravitational pull of a giant planet -- most likely Neptune.

New observations by Brett Gladman of the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur,
France, and his colleagues now reveal that 2000 CR105's orbit is much larger
and more distant than had been assumed: Even when it's closest to the sun,
at 6.6 billion kilometers, it lies far outside Neptune's orbit. (It's
farthest point is 58.2 billion kilometers from the sun.) The giant
planets couldn't have put it there, Gladman and his colleagues argue, at
least not from their current orbits.

Instead, Neptune may once have had a much more eccentric orbit itself, from
which it could have tugged the comet to its current orbit, the researchers
say in a paper submitted for publication in Icarus. Or it was pulled there
by a massive population of planetary "embryos" that may
have inhabited the early solar system but were later expelled. The most
exciting possibility is that a mid-sized planet at some 10 billion
kilometers from the sun caused 2000 CR105's orbit. And because such a planet
would not be very vulnerable to orbit disruptions, it could still be there,
the team says.

"This is the first conclusive evidence that somewhere out there, there once
was something big," says Hal Levison of the Southwest Research Institute in
Boulder, Colorado. "It's a very important result." However, Levison doesn't
think there's another Mars waiting to be discovered, because it's unclear
how it would have formed. Gladman suspects there must be many more TNOs in
orbits like 2000 CR105; "finding more would give us a better idea of how
they got there," Levison adds.

© 2001 The American Association for the Advancement of Science

From The Register Citizen, 29 March 2001
Glenn Carlson and his wife Sondra were traveling home from New Hampshire
last weekend when they saw something bright streak across the sky. In the
heavens above Route 8 southbound, the South Kent couple saw what they
identified as a shooting star.

The pair admired the glow then noticed it's light flicker, extinguish
momentarily, and bound toward Earth eventually landing in a location between
TJ Maxx, O&G Industries, Route 8, and Charlotte Hungerford Hospital.

"It didn't like explode or anything," Glenn said Wednesday. "As it got
closer (into the Carlsons' view) it kind of flared up and it kind of blacked

Glenn said he was certain the object wasn't a bottle rocket or any
mysterious visitor from outer space, merely a meteor speeding wayward
through the atmosphere.

"It was pretty neat," Glenn said.

Susan French, vice president of the board of trustees for the Dudley
Observatory in Schenectady, N.Y. and a star party coordinator for the Albany
Amateur Astronomers Club, said the Carlsons indeed might have seen a meteor.

The only thing, she said, is a meteorite, once it hovers about 12 miles
above the Earth, extinguishes itself entirely and could land anywhere at
anytime. So pinpointing an exact location from a streak in the sky would be
nearly impossible.

Most people identify fallen meteorites if the chunk of space rock hits
something, such as a house or a car, or if a person stumbles upon something
strange in a wooded area, French said.

"There always are meteor showers," she continued. "There's a good chance he
saw a meteor."

A meteor, or shooting star, rapidly crosses the sky in about 15 seconds,
whereas a satellite or an airplane takes much longer, French explained. And
this time of year is ripe for meteors, as the March showers are now coming
to an end.

The only thing about which French was skeptical was the height the Carlsons
said they saw the object. Generally, 60 miles in the air is when people see
the burning rocks.

But then again, some could say it might have been something other than a
©The Register Citizen 2001

From Spaceflight Now, 29 March 2001
Two tall volcanic plumes and the rings of red material they have deposited
onto surrounding surface areas appear in images taken of Jupiter's moon Io
by NASA's Galileo and Cassini spacecraft in late December 2000 and early
January 2001.

A plume near Io's equator comes from the volcano Pele. It has been active
for at least four years, and has been far larger than any other plume seen
on Io, until now. The other, nearer to Io's north pole, is a Pele-sized
plume that had never been seen before, a fresh eruption from the Tvashtar
Catena volcanic area.

The observations were made during joint studies of the Jupiter system while
Cassini was passing Jupiter on its way to Saturn. The two craft offered
complementary advantages for observing Io, the most volcanically active body
in the solar system. Galileo passed closer to Io for higher-resolution
images, and Cassini acquired images at ultraviolet wavelengths, better for
detecting active volcanic plumes.

The Cassini ultraviolet images reveal two gigantic, actively erupting plumes
of gas and dust. Near the equator, just the top of Pele's plume is visible
where it projects into sunlight. None of it would be illuminated if it were
less than 240 kilometers (150 miles) high.These images indicate a total
height for Pele of 390 kilometers (242 miles). The Cassini image at far
right shows a bright spot over Pele's vent. Although the Pele hot spot has a
high temperature, silicate lava cannot be hot enough to explain a bright
spot in the ultraviolet, so the origin of this bright spot is a mystery, but
it may indicate that Pele was unusually active.

Also visible is a plume near Io's north pole. Although 15 active plumes over
Io's equatorial regions have been detected in hundreds of images from NASA's
Voyager and Galileo spacecraft, this is the first image ever acquired of an
active plume over a polar region of Io.The plume projects about 150
kilometers (about 90 miles) over the limb, the edge of the globe. If it were
erupting from a point on the limb, it would be only slightly larger than a
typical Ionian plume, but the image does not reveal whether the source is
actually at the limb or beyond it, out of view.

A distinctive feature in Galileo images since 1997 has been a giant red ring
of Pele plume deposits about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) in diameter. The
Pele ring is seen again in one of the new Galileo images, lower left. When
the new Galileo images were returned this month, scientists were astonished
to see a second giant red ring on Io, centered around Tvashtar Catena at 63
degrees north latitude. Tvashtar was the site of an active curtain of
high-temperature silicate lava imaged by Galileo in November 1999 and
February 2000. The new ring shows that Tvashtar must be the vent for the
north polar plume imaged by Cassini from the other side of Io! This means
the plume is actually about 385 kilometers (239 miles) high, just like Pele.
The uncertainty in estimating the height is about 30 kilometers (19 miles),
so the plume could be anywhere from 355 to 405 kilometers (221 to 252 miles)

If this new plume deposit is just one millimeter (four one-hundredths of an
inch) thick, then the eruption produced more ash than the 1980 eruption of
Mount St. Helens in Washington.

NASA recently approved a third extension of the Galileo mission, including a
pass over Io's north pole in August 2001. The spacecraft's trajectory will
pass directly over Tvashtar at an altitude of 360 kilometers (224 miles).
Will Galileo fly through an active plume? That depends on whether this
eruption is long-lived, like Pele, or brief, and it also depends on how high
the plume is next August. Two Pele-sized plumes are inferred to have erupted
in 1979 during the four months between Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 flybys, as
indicated by new Pele-sized rings in Voyager 2 images. Thoseeruptions, both
from high-latitude locations, were shorter-lived than Pele, but their actual
durations are unknown. Before its August flyby, Galileo will get another
more-distant look at Tvashtar in May.

It has been said that Io is the heartbeat of the jovian magnetosphere. The
two giant plumes evidenced in these images may have had significant effects
on the types, density and distribution of neutral and charged particles in
the Jupiter system during the joint observations of the system by Galileo
and Cassini from November 2000 to March 2001.

These Cassini images were acquired on Jan. 2, 2001, except for the frame at
the far right, which was acquired a day earlier. The Galileo images were
acquired on Dec. 30 and 31, 2000.Cassini was about 10 million kilometers (6
million miles) from Io, ten times farther than Galileo.

Cassini is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the
Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the
California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Galileo and
Cassini missions for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. 

© 2001 Pole Star Publications Ltd


From, 28 March 2001

By Charles Aldinger
Reuters News Agency

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Warfare high above Earth could litter space with
speeding debris that might rip into commercial satellites and space
shuttles, the U.S. military's space chief warned on Wednesday.

Air Force Gen. Ralph Eberhart said instant intelligence and communications
were so important to the United States and other nations that future enemies
might consider blowing up each other's satellites.

"First and foremost, I'm concerned about the debris in space and not knowing
what's going to happen once you blow it (a satellite) up," with a
projectile, the head of the U.S. Space Command told reporters.

"I have to admit that I would also be concerned about the threshold that you
cross if you do that..., what it might mean in terms of weapons in space and
other space activities," the general added.

Eberhart said the military was already tracking some 9,000 orbiting objects,
some as tiny as a fountain pen, and that commercial satellites and shuttles
were threatened by junk moving at thousands of miles [kilometers] an hour.

Paint fleck "can ruin your day"

"Even a [speeding] fleck of paint can ruin your day if you are in the
shuttle," he told reporters.

Eberhart, who heads the North American Aerospace Defense Command for the
United States and Canada, said the Pentagon was also increasingly worried
about the ability of China, North Korea, Iran, Iraq and even "terrorist"
groups and drug cartels to disrupt computers using electronic "cyber

The United States has "become so reliant on our computer systems -- our
information -- that as we train and exercise and are involved in contingency
operations we have come to take those capabilities...for granted," he said.

The United States is in the process of developing a space policy, including
a decision on whether antisatellite (ASAT) weapons should be used in the
blackness beyond the atmosphere.

Eberhart said he thinks that destroying another country's communications or
spy satellites using a weapon launched into space would be "a last-ditch

"I would much rather use negotiations. I would much rather interfere with
the uplinks and downlinks, I would much rather...bomb a ground station,"
Eberhart told reporters.

Copyright 2001, Reuters

[German translation of recent article in New Scientist about Bill Napier's

From Christian Gritzner <>

Hi Benny,

I just found this article about cometary impacts in the web. I wonder where
the citation "Unsummen" (hugh amounts of money) being invested in detection
activities and emergency plans comes from...???

Best wishes,
Christian, Mittwoch 28. März 2001, 06:41 Uhr

Kometen für Erde gleich gefährlich wie Asteroiden

(ExpeditionZone) - Beinahe monatlich wird die Anzahl jener Asteroiden in die
Höhe geschraubt, die
der Erde gefährlich werden könnten. Mehr als 1.100 sind es laut letztem
Stand. Um mögliche
Gefahren bereits im Vorfeld auszuschalten, investieren Regierungen Unsummen
in neue Ortungsmöglichkeiten und Gefahrenpläne.

Doch ein britischer Astronom mahnt jetzt zur Vorsicht. Bill Napier vom
Armagh Observatorium ist der Meinung, dass die von Kometen ausgehende Gefahr
mindestens genauso hoch sei, momentan aber
weit unterschätzt werde.

"Wir suchen nach einem Bienenschwarm und stehen möglicherweise bereits auf
jenem Gleis auf dem der Zug kommt", kommentiert Napier gegenüber New

Zwar seien Kometen (riesige Eisklumpen mit einem langen Schwanz aus Gas und
Staub) seltener als Asteroiden, doch laut Napier bräuchten sie die Erde
nicht einmal direkt zu treffen, um eine verheerende Katastrophe auszulösen.
Zieht ein Komet nahe an der Sonne vorbei, könnte deren Hitze
Milliarden Tonnen von Staub freisetzen.

Passiert dies an der "richtigen" Stelle, so könnte dieser Staub die
Umlaufbahn der Erde kreuzen und auf sie herunterregnen. Ein gigantischer
Staubvorhang würde die Sonne auf Jahrtausende hinaus verdunkeln und so eine
neue Eiszeit auslösen, wie Napier in einer jetzt veröffentlichten
Studie nachweisen konnte.

Derzeit wissen Astronomen nur von vier Kometen, die mehrere Hundert
Kilometer Durchmesser besitzen. Doch in der sogenannten Oort'schen Wolke,
die sich weit über den Orbit des Pluto hinaus befindet, könnten noch
mindestens 2.000 Objekte ähnlicher Größe lauern.

Zwar kreuzten diese extrem selten das Innere Sonnensystem, doch falls es
dennoch zu einem unvorhergesehen Besuch kommt, könnte der dadurch
freigesetzte Staub die Sonne über 10.000 hindurch verdunkeln.

Laut Napier dürfte das zumindest einmal in der Geschichte der Erde passiert
sein. In den 80er Jahren gesammelte Daten zeigten dabei auffällig hohe
Konzentrationen an interplanetarischen Staubpartikeln, die von einem
riesigen Kometen stammen dürften, der vor gut 70.000 Jahren nahe an der
Sonne verdampfte. Dieses Ereignis koinzidiert dabei mit dem Beginn der
letzten Eiszeit.

Napier konnte berechnen, dass die Wahrscheinlichkeit für einen heutigen
"Treffer" bei 1:100.000 liegt. Das ist genau jene Wahrscheinlichkeit, wie
sie auch von einem Asteroideneinschlag erwartet wird.

Auch David Williams vom Londoner University College zeigt sich ähnlich
besorgt wie Napier. Williams war Mitglied jenes Untersuchungsteams, das im
letzten jahr für die britische Regierung eine Gefahreneinschätzung
erstellte. "Dieser Bereich eröffnet sich erst jetzt langsam für uns.
Damals stuften wir ihn für unseren Bericht noch als zu kontroversiell ein."


From Insurance Net, 30 March 2001

$50bn financial loss from 2000 catastrophes says Swiss Re

In 2000, catastrophes claimed more than 17 400 lives and caused overall
financial losses -not counting indirect economic damage - of almost USD 50
billion. According to Swiss Re's definitive statistics, the burden on the
insurance industry was comparatively low at USD 10.6 billion.

Among Swiss Re's findings:
* Flood losses totalled USD 2.5 billion
* Technical disasters, such as the explosion at the Mina Al-ahmadi refinery
in Kuwait, accounted  for USD 3.0 billion in losses
* Catastrophe premiums up 16 percent.

Only one loss approaching USD 1 billion

Catastrophe losses cost the insurance industry USD 10.6 billion in 2000,
compared with USD 32.9 billion in 1999*. Only one event, the Tokai floods in
Japan, almost reached the billion-dollar mark, which according to the latest
"sigma" study from Swiss Re explains the sharp contrast with 1999, when nine
storms and earthquakes each caused losses in excess of one billion US
dollars. However, the accumulation of storms and earthquakes in areas with
high concentrations of values in 1999 and their absence in 2000 were purely
random; severe earthquakes have already occurred in January and February
2001, this time in El Salvador and India. Given that risk factors still
exist such as increasing population densities, the expected effects of
climate change, and higher concentrations of values particularly in zones
exposed to natural hazards, the trend towards higher losses is expected to

*All losses are calculated at 2000 prices. "sigma" includes losses from
natural catastrophes which surpass USD 34 million.

Loss potential caused by floods underestimated

Of the USD 10.6 billion, USD 3.0 billion was due to man-made disasters and
USD 7.5 billion to natural catastrophes. Floods accounted for a high
proportion of natural catastrophe losses (USD 2.5 billion), making 2000 one
of the most expensive years for floods in insurance history, along with
1993, when Mississippi floods caused huge losses to the insurance industry.
As a result, the most expensive insurance losses in 2000 were the result of
floods: the Tokai floods in Japan (USD 990 million) and flooding in the UK
in the wake of Storm Oratia (USD 747 million) - an indication of the often
underestimated loss potential of floods.

Costly man-made losses, high overall losses

With insured losses of USD 3.0 billion, technical disasters remained
significantly below the average seen in the 1990s. Major fires and
explosions accounted for USD 1.3 billion of the total, aerospace losses for
USD 1.0 billion and aviation losses for USD 397 million. The overall
financial loss due to catastrophes - not counting indirect economic damage -
totalled almost USD 50 billion, three-quarters of which was accounted for by
nine events, each causing economic damage in excess of USD 1 billion. Eight
of these major losses were caused by natural catastrophes, while the other
was the consequence of the "I love you" computer virus, which replicated via
e-mail to paralyse computer networks worldwide within the space of one day.
In the 351 events recorded by "sigma", more than 17 400 people lost their
lives; the floods in India and Bangladesh in August and September alone
accounted for at least 1200 fatalities, while the death toll from those in
southern Africa was 920. The 9600 victims of man-made catastrophes were
clearly above the average for the past decade; two-thirds of these victims
resulted from transport disasters on land, at sea and in the air - a sign of
increasing mobility worldwide.

Premiums for catastrophe reinsurance recovering but still not covering costs
The CAMARES analysis of 13 important reinsurance markets in "sigma" showed
that the sustained collapse in catastrophe reinsurance prices seen since
1994 came to an end in 2000. It was only during the renewals for 2001,
however, that a general rise became apparent. The 16% rise in the markets
examined therefore signals a trend reversal, though one which only makes up
for the losses suffered in 1998/99. According to the study, further price
rises are necessary if catastrophe reinsurers are to cover their costs in
the long term.



From Colin Keay <>

Dear Benny:

Here's a nice little mystery. Late yesterday afternoon (Thursday 2001 March
29) I was contacted by a man acting on behalf of a home-owner on whose roof
an object landed at around midnight AEDT on March 24/25 with enough force to
wake them up. Next morning the family's children picked up
bits of jet-black crumbly material from near the house and went onto the
roof to retrieve more. The house is located about 30km from Newcastle. At
first the owner's family and neighbours thought it all rather a joke but a
few days later a friend of the owner thought it sensible to get an opinion
on its origin. Eventually his inquiries led to me and I invited him to bring
me the sample he held. He did so, with it wrapped in a paper tissue. I took
one look at it and immediately placed it in a sealable plastic bag, although
it is likely to be rather contaminated through earlier handling.

The sample is very irregular in shape and approx. 38 x 20 x 8 mm overall
weighing 0.87 gm. It is jet-black with a few tiny ~< 1 mm reflective facets.
It is fairly fragile and crumbles readily. There are suggestions of
striations of about 0.2 - 0.3 mm spacing. A geologist assures me that it is
not of terrestrial origin. I have contacted Dr Andrew Smith of ANSTO who
will be happy to analyse it with his accelarator mass spectrometer, so I'll
take what I can to Sydney on Monday for him to do an elemental and then
isotope analysis.

In the meantime I contacted the the home-owner last evening and gave
instructions for collecting as much residue as possible with least
contamination. Hopefully I'll hear back later today and will likely travel
to the site tomorrow (Saturday March 31).

If it fell from space its entry fireball must have been only of moderate
brightness or else there'd have been reports of it. The two possibilities
are A: cometary origin, or B: space junk. If cometary it could be what
Ceplecha classes as very low density, but although it looks to be
carbonaceous I see no chondrules. If it is space junk there is an intriguing
possibility it is from the demise of Mir, about 31 hours earlier. At the
time of the fall this part of Australia would have been under the Mir
orbital plane toward the ascending node. We are at lat -32 deg, Mir
inclination I believe was 51 deg. So the mystery is why the fragment(s)
remained in space for a further 20-21 orbits after Mir's demise.

So that's where I'm at this morning, Friday, March 30. I will keep you
posted. It is an amazing coincidence that only two days ago I attended a
conference at the Police Forensic HQ in Sydney to discuss the likely origin
of a large block of ice that crashed through the roof and ceiling of a
house at Harbord, in Sydney on March 6. For my money it came from an
aircraft, because it was mainly clear and partly transparent. It will be

Colin Keay
University of Newcastle, NSW.

* Dr Colin Keay      :::::::     ~      ~   To  achieve  anything  really *
* Physics Dept     ~       :::::      ~      worthwhile in research it is *
* Newcastle Univ        ~       :::\ | /   ~  necessary to go against the *
* NSW, AUSTRALIA 2308 ~      ~     - o -       opinions of one's fellows. *
*       / | \  ~        "Where the Wind Blows" *
*        ~       ~       ~    - Fred Hoyle  *


From Andy Nimmo <>

Dear Dr Peiser,

Thank you very much for publishing Mr Gregory Nemitz's response in CCNet
49/2001 - 28 March 2001 to my earlier point about off-planet ownership. I
rather think he illustrates and bolsters my point quite well. First he cites
precedence in Roman law that has no relevance to Chinese, or other
non-European laws, and thereby is invalid in the context of present
international, let alone future extra-terrestrial law. Precedence itself is
not valid in some European courts let alone those in non-European nations.
Then he points to a letter of his own composition in which he makes the very
kind of claims I am warning against. He claims he owns Eros and space to 50
kms around it.

Mr Nemitz's claim appears to be based on the idea that nobody has made a
previous claim. However, in 1979 it may be assumed that the United Nations
did just that in their so-called 'Moon Treaty' - even though the U.S.
Government did not ratify that Treaty, part of it reads:

"Article 1

1. The provisions of this Agreement relating to the moon shall also
apply to other celestial bodies within the solar system, other than the
earth, except in so far as specific legal norms enter into force with
respect to any of these celestial bodies.

2. For the purposes of this Agreement reference to the moon shall
include orbits around or other trajectories to or around it."

Further, "Article 11

1.The moon and its natural resources are the common heritage of
mankind, which finds its expression in the provisions of this
Agreement and in particular in paragraph 5 or this article."

Paragraph 5 says:

"5. States Parties to this Agreement hereby undertake to establish
an international regime, including appropriate procedures, to govern
the exploitation of the natural resources of the moon as such
exploitation is about to become feasible. This provision shall be
implemented in accordance with article 18 of this Agreement."

"Article 18

Ten years after the entry into force of this Agreement, the question
of the review of the Agreement shall be included in the provisional
agenda of the General Assembly of the United Nations in order to
consider, in the light of past application of the Agreement, whether it
requires revision. However, at any time after the Agreement has been in
force for five years, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, as
depository, shall, at the request of one third of the States Parties to
the Agreement and with the concurrence of the majority of the States
Parties, convene a conference of the States Parties to review this
Agreement. A review conference shall also consider the question of the
implementation of the provisions of article 11, paragraph 5, on the basis
of the principle referred to in paragraph 1 of that article and
taking into account in particular any relevant technological developments."

A review was held, and so far as I understand, it was decided to leave
things as they are at present.

Nevertheless, the fact that the US, USSR, UK, and some other nations did not
ratify that Treaty doesn't alter the fact that many nations did do so. For
all of these, this Moon Treaty is the space law that counts. Most of the
rest did ratify the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, and for them,
that is the law that counts. After the preamble, this begins:

"Article I

The exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other
celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the
interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or
scientific development, and shall be the province of all mankind.

Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be
free for exploration and use by all States without discrimination of any
kind, on a basis of equality and in accordance with international law,
and there shall be free access to all areas of celestial bodies.

There shall be freedom of scientific investigation in outer space,
including the moon and other celestial bodies, and States shall facilitate
and encourage international co- operation in such investigation."

Now the US did ratify that so it is US as well as international law, and
that seems to me to specifically prohibit Mr Nemitz or anybody else charging
NASA any kind of landing fee for NEAR on Eros. That third paragraph makes it
clear that there shall be 'free access'. Accordingly,
it seems that Mr Nemitz's claim is not only invalid under international law,
but also under US law.

If Mt Nemitz is correct in his assertion that the Archimedes Institute is
not selling parts of the Moon, then I am very happy to apologize to them,
but feel that it is only right to warn them that there are crooks around
using their registrations as the basis for that very confidence
trick. The best way for this to be stamped out would be for them to cease to
register claims to territory over which no person, company nor nation
presently has any valid claim. Neither Roman nor US law is relevant here, as
neither the Romans nor the US own all of this or any other world.

Nothing Mr Nemitz has said in any way alters my point "it must be in our
interest to establish that nobody owns anything they are not settling on and
don't have regular vehicles visiting, otherwise Spaceguard may find itself
in trouble in court if it - or others supported by it - try to deflect some
dangerous body some lunatic claims he owns." What we need to do is to get
both the Outer Space Treaty and the Moon Treaty replaced by a new and more
sensible one that we can all agree on.

Best wishes, Andy Nimmo.


From Hermann Burchard <>

Dear Benny,

today on CCNet Tom Recer reports in an AP item on how "rebounding from the
weight of ice sheets that depressed the land during the ice age, Scandinavia
has risen more than a half-mile in the past 20,000 years". A similar rebound
for Canada is mentioned. Around Hudson Bay ancient shore
lines are now as much as 900 feet above sea level.

These northern lands will continue to rise. Clearly, this will make higher
elevations such as northern Labrador more prone to accumulate glacial ice in
winters in the future. Another ice age will begin glaciers in Canada and
Scandinavia as once again descend from the hills. This
mechanism offers an explanation for periodic build-up of northern hemisphere
glaciation. As glacial ice accumulates slowly under the dry climate
conditions, there would be a slow onset of each ice age. Some mechanism to
keep the ice from building up indefinitely (before all oceans
run dry) is required. A sudden collapse of ice shields to end each cycle has
been suggested as being due to instability or cometary impact. The overall
model is one of a nonlinear not-quite-harmonic oscillator.

In their 27 March article on CCNet fellow mathematicians Hoyle &
Wickramasinghe present another theory of glacial cycling: "Cycles of
glaciation with an average period of ~100kyr are mediated by cometary
bolides." The reasoning is that "the average frequency of [comet fragment
impact] per 100kyr is remarkably close to the mean length of the glacial
cycle." However, these 100 Ka cycles are actually surprisingly regular, a
fact that could not be explained by random-cycle impact causation.

A 100 Ka glacial cycle pattern was found by DSDP data based on oxygen
isotopes sensitive to temperature in buried marine clam shells. The graphs
of ice accumulation show precisely this slow upramping and sudden end, with
the ramps combining to an overall sawtooth pattern. Frequently the rising
ramps of the sawteeth exhibit breaks, without, however, the remarkably
regular cycle length of 100 Ka being seriously disturbed. The breaks are
likely explained by cometary impacts temporarily warming the oceans as
suggested by Hoyle & Wickramasinghe, whose main argument has to do with a
cold ocean causing global cooling. The latter fact indeed may require more
than rising mountain tops in the North. They mention the short duration of
"interglacials lasting for about 10,000 years or less", consistent with a
rebound of mountain heights (at the rates reported in the AP item) and the
resulting renewal of glaciers. It seems likely that all of these things work

Best regards.
Hermann Burchard


Krot AN, Meibom A, Russell SS, Alexander CMO, Jeffries TE, Keil K: A new
astrophysical setting for chondrule formation. SCIENCE  291: (5509)
1776-1779 MAR 2 2001

Chondrules in the metal-rich meteorites Hammadah al Hamra 237 and QUE 94411
have recorded highly energetic thermal events that resulted in complete
vaporization of a dusty region of the solar nebula (dust/gas ratio of about
10 to 50 times solar). These chondrules formed under oxidizing conditions
before condensation of iron-nickel metal, at temperatures greater than or
equal to 1500 K, and were isolated from the cooling gas before condensation
of moderately volatile elements such as manganese, sodium, potassium. and
sulfur. This astrophysical environment is fundamentally different from
conventional models for chondrule formation by localized, brief, repetitive
heating events that resulted in incomplete melting of solid precursors
initially residing at ambient temperatures below approximately 650 K.

Krot AN, Univ Hawaii Manoa, Sch Ocean & Earth Sci & Technol, Hawaii Inst
Geophys & Planetol, Honolulu, HI 96822 USA.
Univ Hawaii Manoa, Sch Ocean & Earth Sci & Technol, Hawaii Inst Geophys &
Planetol, Honolulu, HI 96822 USA.
Stanford Univ, Stanford, CA 94305 USA.
Nat Hist Museum, Dept Mineral, London SW7 5BD, England.
Carnegie Inst Washington, Dept Terr Magnetism, Washington, DC 20015 USA.

Copyright © 2001 Institute for Scientific Information


Shu FH, Shang H, Gounelle M, Glassgold AE, Lee T: The origin of chondrules
and refractory inclusions in chondritic meteorites ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL
548: (2) 1029-1050, Part 1 FEB 20 2001

Examples of calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs) surrounded by thick
chondrule mantles have been found in chondritic meteorites and cast doubt on
the conventional belief that CAIs and chondrules possessed different
spacetime origins in the primitive solar nebula. We study specific processes
by which such objects, and the more common ordinary CAIs and chondrules,
might have formed by flare heating of primitive rocks interior to the inner
edge of a gaseous accretion disk that has been truncated by magnetized
funnel flow onto the central proto-Sun. Motivated by the appearance of the
chains of Herbig-Haro knots that define collimated optical jets from many
young stellar objects (YSOs), we adopt the model of a fluctuating X-wind,
where the inner edge of the solar nebula undergoes periodic radial
excursions on a timescale of similar to 30 yr, perhaps in response to
protosolar magnetic cycles. Flares induced by the stressing of magnetic
fields threading both the star and the inner edge of the fluctuating disk
melt or partially melt solids in the transition zone between the base of the
funnel flow and the reconnection ring, and in the reconnection ring itself.
The rock melts stick when they collide at low velocities. Surface tension
pulls the melt aggregate into a quasi-spherical core/mantle structure, where
the core consists mainly of refractories and the mantle mainly of moderate
volatiles. Orbital drift of rocks past the inner edge of the disk or infall
of large objects from the funnel flow replaces the steady loss of material
by the plasma drag of the coronal gas that corotates with the stellar
magnetosphere. In quasi-steady state, agglomeration of molten or
heat-softened rocks leads to a differential size-distribution in radius R
proportional to R(-3)e(-Lt)/(tLR), where t(L) similar to yr is the drift
time of an object of fiducial radius L = 1 cm and t is the time since the
last inward excursion of the base of the funnel flow and X-wind. Thus,
during the similar to 30 yr interval between successive flushing of the
reconnection ring, flash-heated and irradiated rocks have a chance to grow
to millimeter and centimeter sizes. The evaporation of the moderately
volatile mantles above large refractory cores, or the dissolving of small
refractory cores inside thick ferromagnesian mantles before launch, plus
extended heating in the X-wind produce the CAIs or chondrules that end up at
planetary distances in the parent bodies of chondritic meteorites.

Shu FH, Univ Calif Berkeley, Dept Astron, 601 Campbell Hall, Berkeley, CA
94720 USA.
Univ Calif Berkeley, Dept Astron, Berkeley, CA 94720 USA.
Acad Sinica, Inst Astron & Astrophys, Taipei 115, Taiwan.
Ctr Spectrometrie Nucl & Spectrometrie Masse, F-91405 Orsay, France.
NYU, Dept Phys, New York, NY 10003 USA.
Acad Sinica, Inst Earth Sci, Taipei 115, Taiwan.

Copyright © 2001 Institute for Scientific Information


From Matthew Genge <>


Duncan Steel asked if there was a distinct word to describe the fear of
dying due to an asteroid or comet impact? It is a time honoured tradition
that scientists are able to just make up a new word if one isn't available,
its one of the few perks of the job. So what about
ARMAGEDDAPHOBIA - the fear of large impacts (or alternatively the fear that
we'd actually use Bruce Willis as the Earth's last line of defense).

Just a thought,

Matt Genge

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