Priority: Normal
To: cambridge-conference <>
From: JR Tate <>
Subject: Clementine 2
Date sent: Wed, 30 Apr 97 19:23:37 GMT


May I point out a couple of errors or slightly misleading passages in the
otherwise excellent Sunday Telegraph article by Robert Matthews.

The impression given in the first and sixth paragraphs is that the
British scientific establishment is heavily involved in the Clementine 2
project. In fact, apart from Duncan Steel, who is based in Australia, an
observer from the BNSC and two military officers (one representing
Spaceguard UK), there was no British representation at the Clementine 2
Science Meeting in Colorado Springs. This is not to say that British
scientists will not be involved in the future - NASA hopes to issue a
Science AO before the end of the year - but there are, as yet, no hopeful
noises coming from the BNSC, the MOD or, indeed anyone else.

Clementine 2 has, at the moment, no Planetary Defence orientated mission.
While there is considerable interest in the subject in the US military,
it has yet to be given to the DoD as a formal mission. Until that happens
there can be no question of using Planetary Defence as justification for
funding or any resourcing. Therefore, Clementine 2 is being designed to
demonstrate various military technologies relating to existing missions,
and to do some "neat science" as well. There is no mention of research
into deflecting comets or asteroids anywhere in the documentation, indeed
mention of Planetary Defence is considered slightly non-PC in DoD
circles, though it doesn’t take the brains of an archbishop to see the
relevance of the mission. USAFSPC hopes/expects to be tasked by Congress
with Planetary Defence as a formal mission soon.

A final point - on the rather nice graphic it states that the
microsatellite impactors are released "months" before impact. Delete
"months" and insert "3 hours".

Jay Tate
Spaceguard UK


Date sent: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 12:13:09 -0400 (EDT)
From: Benny J Peiser <>
Priority: NORMAL


The following article by Robert Matthews appeared in THE SUNDAY
TELEGRAPH, 27 April 1997, p.6. In my view, this is a rather historic
article in which the British and European public is informed for the
first time about the next revolutionary stage in the evolution (and
self-protected evolution) of mankind. What we are witnessing are the
first steps of an intelligent species actively intervening into the
course of nature and cosmic dynamics in order to prevent our
otherwise inevitable extinction. Should we, one day, be able to
successfully hit and deflect one or many Earth-crossing cosmic
bodies, we might have developed the technological skills needed to
protect our galactic civilisation from the cosmic hazards. But
whether or not we will also be able to protect civilisation from our
own follies (and from another Manchester United championship) is
still an open question.

Benny J Peiser

The Earthlings strike back

By Robert Matthews, Science Correspondent

British scientists are involved in plans to launch a missile attack
against asteroids that threaten the Earth, THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH has

Set for a launch in two years' time, the mission marks the first
step by the human race towards defending itself from the impact of
asteroids and comets, now widely blamed for the extinction of the

Nasa, the American space agency, has picked out two asteroids on
Earth-crossing orbits. The first, 1986JK, is a half-mile-wide chunk
of rock that will be attacked in May 2000. Toutatis, an asteroid
about two miles across, will be intercepted five months later.

The United States Air Force will build the main space probe, named
Clementine II, and fit it with instrument-packed three-feet-long
missiles. These, released into the path of the oncoming asteroids,
will take close-up pictures and make scientific measurements before
slamming into their targets at 45,000 mph. Although not violent
enough to destroy the asteroids, the missiles will give scientists
vital information about the strength and make-up of the objects that
threaten the Earth.

A number of British space experts are involved in discussions about
the Clementine II mission, including an official from the British
National Space Centre, part of the Department of Trade and Industry.

Dr Duncan Steel, the British astronomer who heads Spaceguard
Australia, part of a worldwide network of organisations now looking
into the threat of cosmic impact, said: "Clementine II represents
the first step in our fight back against the asteroids and comets
whose cataclysmic impacts have often intervened in the evolution of
life on Earth."

According to Dr Steel, the mission has its origins in America's
controversial "Star Wars" project, which was supposed to protect the
West from surprise nuclear attack by the Soviet Union.

"It's a prime example of beating swords into ploughshares," Dr Steel
said. "Clementine II employs technologies developed for Star Wars
that are now being used in a mission designed to pave the way to
protecting the Earth from a possible cataclysm."

Some astronomers have voiced concern about the use of military
technology in space, no matter how benevolent the aim. They claim
that the interest of the armed forces has less to do with
saving the planet than with finding a new enemy to justify huge
military budgets.

Clementine II has been designed to meet the stipulations of the
Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which bans the use of weapons of mass
destruction in space. It is expected to be only the first of a
series of missions to deflect comets and asteroids. If the objects
are discovered early enough, only a tiny change in velocity would be
needed to protect the Earth, as the small deflection would build up
into a huge distance by the time of closest approach.

But nudging a comet or asteroid off course requires a detailed
knowledge of its structure. If it is weak, then too much violence
would shatter it, turning it into a swarm of impactors.

According to Dr Steel, just getting to the asteroid is a major
challenge - and is one of the main objectives of the Clementine II
mission. "To be able to hit targets only a mile or so in size when
millions of miles from the Earth, and travelling at over 10 miles a
second, will be a remarkable technological capability."

He added: "If we are to be able to divert some rogue asteroid with
our number on it, trials like those planned for Clementine II are
essential. The dinosaurs could not see their nemesis coming, but we


Members of this list will be pleased to learn that Robert Matthews
will give the opening keynote address at the 2nd SIS Cambridge
Conference, while Duncan Steel will speak about Stonehenge,
megalithic astronomy and ancient fears of cometary impacts.

CCCMENU CCC for 1997