CCNet, 71/2000 - 22 June 2000

     "Senator John McCain (R-AZ) took the Senate floor Tuesday [13 June
     00] to talk about one of his favorite subjects--Congress'
     insatiable appetite for pork. In this case it was the fiscal year
     2001 Defense Appropriations Bill that got McCain's goat. McCain
     took ... shots at the Hawaii delegation, noting that funding for
     the Pearl Harbor Shipyard was boosted by $24 million above the
     Navy's $300 million request and that $15 million was added to the
     bill for the Maui Space Surveillance System, ostensibly to improve
     the nation's ability to track asteroids. "I do not intend to
     minimize the importance of such activities, but only the cast of
     Star Trek could conceivably have looked at a list of military
     funding shortfalls and concluded that a total of $19 million had
     to be in the fiscal year 2001 budget for this purpose," McCain
          -- Inside the Pentagon, 15 June 2000

    Andrew Yee <>

    Ron Baalke <>

    Larry Klaes <lklaes@BBN.COM>

    Keith Cowing <>

    General Simon P. Worden, Col, AF/XOC <>

    Clark Whelton <>



From Andrew Yee <>


Wednesday, June 21, 2000, 3:02 PM EDT

First recording of meteors hitting the Moon

PARIS (AFP) -- Astronomers say they have recorded the first pictures of
meteors smashing into the Moon, a series of small, sudden impacts that
occurred during the spectacular Leonid meteorite shower that
illuminated skies last November.

The images show tiny flashes lasting less than a fiftieth of a second
as five Leonids slammed into the dusty lunar surface at roughly
90-minute intervals, they report in Thursday's issue of Nature, the
British science weekly.

The pictures were taken by Mexican astronomers, who joined with Spanish
counterparts in a bid to be the first to capture images of a meteor
impact. Three of the flashes were corroborated by other observers, they

Leonids are so called because they appear in the sky in the region of
the constellation of Leo. They are a stream of minute dust particles
trailing behind the Tempel-Tuttle comet, which swings close to the
Earth every 33 years.

The particles have a diameter of between one millimeter (0.04 inch) and
one centimeter (half an inch). They enter the Earth's atmosphere at
speeds of between 15 and 70 kilometers (10 and 43 miles) a second,
which makes them glow and burn up.

When the comet passes close to the Sun, as it did last year, more of
its ice core melts and more dust is released, thus providing a bigger

The Mexican pictures were recorded on November 18 at Monterrey, using a
0.2-metre (eight-inch) telescope targeted at the "night" side of the
Moon -- the part of its face that was in darkness at the time.

The Moon presents the same face to the Earth. This is because it
rotates about its own axis in about 29 1/2 days, which is virtually
identical to the time it takes to complete its orbit around the Earth.

The authors say the Leonid pictures are an encouraging start for
meeting the huge technical challenge of recording high-impact
collisions in space. Pictures and other data could reveal more about
the nature of meteorites and how they impact, which could be useful for
protecting communications satellites.

Copyright 2000 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.


From Ron Baalke <>

Asteroids have Seasons, Too
NASA Science News

Later this week the Sun will rise over the south pole of asteroid Eros,
revealing unexplored terrain to the instruments on NASA's
NEAR-Shoemaker spacecraft.

June 21, 2000 -- When NASA's NEAR spacecraft entered orbit around 433
Eros in February 2000, the asteroid was in the middle of northern
summer. Eros's north pole was constantly bathed in sunlight while
southern regions were in total darkness. Three of NEAR's scientific
instruments depend on reflected sunlight to do their jobs, so many of
the mission's early results have focused on observations of the space
rock's northern parts.

Scientists have been waiting expectantly to see more of the asteroid
and later this week they will get their wish. On June 25, 2000, the
subsolar point on Eros will cross the asteroid's equator heading south.
As the Sun rises over Eros's south pole, sunlight will illuminate
terrain that's been hidden from view since NEAR went into orbit four
months ago.

"We're looking forward to seeing the south polar region of Eros for the
first time," says Andrew Cheng, the lead scientist for the NEAR mission
at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. "Once the
Sun rises over the south pole, the oblique lighting there will
highlight features on the surface, which is ideal for taking pictures."

On Earth, sunrise at the south pole means that southern spring has
arrived. We don't often think of asteroids as having seasons, but they
do. Like Earth, Eros passes through two solstices (when the Sun shines
down over the poles) and two equinoxes (when day and night are of equal
length) during its 1.76 year circuit around the Sun. The names of the
seasons on Eros are the same as the ones on our planet -- fall, winter,
summer, and spring -- but that's where the similarities end. Seasons on
Eros last different lengths of time (northern spring is only half as
long as autumn) while the apparent size of the Sun nearly doubles
between fall and spring. The difference in polar surface temperatures
from summer to winter may be as great as the difference between liquid
nitrogen and boiling water. Seasons on Eros are truly alien.

Earth's seasons are caused by the 23.5-degree tilt of our planet's axis
with respect to its orbital plane. Contrary to a widespread
misconception, our planet is not closer to the Sun during summer --
Earth's orbit is almost perfectly circular. The orbit of Eros, on the
other hand, is highly elliptical and its spin axis is tilted 89
degrees! In this respect, Eros is similar to the planet Uranus whose
spin vector is also nearly parallel to its orbital plane. Uranus's
82-degree tilt is by far the greatest of the nine planets. This
triggers extreme seasons including gigantic storms that are comparable
in size to North America with temperatures of 300 degrees below zero.

Although an airless world like Eros doesn't have "weather" in the same
sense as a planet like Uranus, it does exhibit its own seasonal
extremes. The primary change from season to season involves the surface

"As far as we know, the surface of Eros is a regolith -- a mixture of
dust and broken rocks of many different sizes" says Cheng. "If we
assume that the surface of Eros is similar to the surface of the Moon,
then it must have similar temperature swings between night and day."

Eros is elongated like a peanut. It rotates every 5.27 hours around an
axis that goes through the narrow part of the asteroid. Thus, the "north
pole" is near the middle and the "equator" traces Eros's long, irregular

On the Moon, the temperature at night drops to minus 173 degrees
Celsius, which is colder than liquid nitrogen. At noon, it rises to
more than 127 degrees Celsius, far hotter than boiling water. As the
Sun rises this week on southern regions of Eros that have been in
darkness for months, the temperature is likely to skyrocket hundreds of

"Unfortunately, we don't have a way of directly measuring the surface
temperature of Eros," notes Cheng. "The thermal infrared spectrum of
the asteroid peaks at a wavelength around 13 microns. We have an
infrared spectrometer on board, but we deliberately chose its range of
operation to be between 0.8 and 2.6 microns because that's the best for
mineralogical studies."

                        Seasons On Asteroid 433 Eros

                                              Apparent size  Solar Flux
   Season     Date      Physical    Eros-Sun   of the Sun    (relative to
                       Description  distance  (as seen from  the autumnal
                                                  Eros)        equinox)
                     The subsolar
  Vernal   Sept. 2,  point crosses
  Equinox  '99       the asteroid's  1.14 AU    0.44 deg.        2.4
                     heading north.
                     The sun shines
  Summer   Dec. 19,  down directly
  Solstice '99       over Eros's     1.30 AU    0.34 deg.        1.8
                     north pole
                     The subsolar
  Autumnal June 25,  point crosses
  Equinox  '00       the asteroid's  1.76 AU    0.28 deg.        1.0
                     heading south.
                     The sun shines
  Winter   Feb. 1,   directly over
  Solstice '01       Eros's south    1.48 AU    0.34 deg.        1.4

Notes: The names of the seasons refer to Eros's northern hemisphere.
The seasons are reversed in the south. The last column shows the
seasonal intensity of sunlight relative to incident solar radiation
during Eros's autumnal equinox. These values simply assume that solar
radiation declines as the inverse square of Eros's distance form the

For an observer on Eros, one of the most striking features of the
asteroid's seasons would be the constantly changing Sun. Eros's
elliptical orbit brings it within 1.13 AU of the Sun and also carries
it nearly 1.8 AU away. (An AU, or astronomical unit, is the distance
between the Earth and Sun. It equals 149,597,871 km). During northern
autumn, the Sun would appear to be 0.28 degrees across; in the spring,
when Eros is closer to the Sun, it would well to 0.44 degrees. (The Sun
appears to be 0.5 degrees wide from Earth.)

Facts about Eros

1. Eros circles the Sun once every 1.76 Earth years. It spins on
   its axis once every 5.27 hours.
2. Eros is about 21 by 8 by 8 miles (33 by 13 by 13 kilometers) in
   size. Its shape has been compared to a shoe, a battered boat, or a
3. The gravity on Eros is very weak but enough to hold a spacecraft.
   A 100-pound (45-kilogram) object on Earth would weigh about 1
   ounce on Eros.
4. Eros is a "Near-Earth Asteroid" or NEA.  Its next close approach to
   Earth will come in January 2012, when it will pass 0.178 AU from our
   planet. Although Eros is a NEA, there is no chance that it will
   collide with Earth.

A bigger Sun means a brighter Sun, too. During northern spring sunlight
falling on Eros is 240% more intense, on average, than it is during the
fall. This difference would further amplify seasonal changes in surface

Eros's elliptical orbit also affects the length of its seasons because
the asteroid travels faster when its closer to the Sun than it does
when it's farther away. For this reason northern spring on Eros is
three and a half Earth-months long (about the same as the length of
springtime on our planet) while autumn persists for seven Earth-months.
These values are reversed in the asteroid's southern hemisphere. The
planet Mars also has seasons of unequal length because it moves in an
elliptical orbit, but the effect is much greater on Eros.

NEAR is currently in a 50-km orbit around Eros. It's the first time a
spacecraft has ever circled an asteroid. On July 7, 2000, the probe
will begin moving even closer as it descends to an orbit just 35
kilometers from the asteroid's center. The car-sized spacecraft will
come within several km of the surface before the mission ends in
February 2001, days after the beginning of southern winter on Eros.

The first in NASA's Discovery Program of low-cost planetary missions,
NEAR was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Station, FL., on Feb. 17,
1996. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in
Laurel, MD., designed and built the NEAR spacecraft and manages the
mission for NASA.


From Larry Klaes <lklaes@BBN.COM>

Florida Today, 22 June 2000

By Tom Breen

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The idea that water might be present on Mars,
making it possibly suitable for humans, goes back to the late 1870s.

That's when Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli spotted what he
described as "canali" on the red planet's surface. The word means
channels but was interpreted as canals, and that's when speculation
about a civilization on Mars first arose.

With a possible announcement today that water in liquid form might have
been spotted beneath the Mars surface by the Global Surveyor
spacecraft, scientists anew will be speculating about the possibility
of some sort of life there.

"We don't know what they found, but it's conceivable water could be
seeping out, maybe 200 yards beneath the surface," said John
Brandenburg, a physicist with Aerospace Corp., a Washington-based
organization that works with NASA and other U.S. government agencies.

During the years, Brandenburg also has become known for his
investigations of the possibility of water existing on Mars, and in
the 1980s speculated that vast oceans may have been present hundreds of
millions of years ago. He also is the co-author of a recent book, Dead
Mars, Dying Earth, which looks closely at both planets.

Since the late 1970s, when the Mariner spacecraft revealed evidence of
possible geysers, scientists have been holding out hope that water
existed on Mars. But never before has the possibility existed that
liquid water could be present on the red planet, Brandenburg said.

"This could be a big deal; if you have liquid water, you have
bacteria living in it," he said.

Last year, NASA hoped that the Mars Polar Lander would detect water ice
at the Martian South Pole. But the mission never took place after the
spacecraft was destroyed.

The discovery of water in the warmer climes of Mars, south of the
Martian equator, would be far more significant, Brandenburg said.

"Water seepage, rather than ice, is extremely important," he said.
"If this discovery is borne, it will hasten a human mission to Mars,"
Brandenburg added.

See these two related online books:

Mars by Percival Lowell, 1895:

The Planet Mars: A History of Observation and Discovery
By William Sheehan, The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 1996

Copyright 2000, Forida Today


From Keith Cowing <>

A press release will be out all over the Internet tomorrow announcing
that has teamed in an exclusive hosting partnership with Mars Catalog. We will be their main
space information engine, news, and research tool.



From General Simon P. Worden, Col, AF/XOC <>


I attach the following comments from Senator John McCain, sometime U.S.
Presidential Candidate, to illustrate that we still have some distance
to go in removing the "giggle factor" from asteroid research.

S. Pete Worden, Brigadier General (sel), USAF

Sen McCain's Remarks Regarding Funding Plus-up for Maui Space
Surveillance Site. Inside the Pentagon, 15 Jun 00, reported that fresh
off of a bare-knuckled (and successful) fight to get a campaign finance
reform measure added to the Senate's defense authorization bill, Sen
John McCain (R-AZ) took the Senate floor Tuesday [13 Jun 00] to talk
about one of his favorite subjects--Congress' insatiable appetite for
pork.  In this case it was the fiscal year 2001 Defense Appropriations
Bill that got McCain's goat.

McCain took ... shots at the Hawaii delegation, noting that funding for
the Pearl Harbor Shipyard was boosted by $24 million above the Navy's
$300 million request and that $15 million was added to the bill for the
Maui Space Surveillance System, ostensibly to improve the nation's
ability to track asteroids. "I do not intend to minimize the importance
of such activities, but only the cast of Star Trek could conceivably
have looked at a list of military funding shortfalls and concluded that
a total of $19 million had to be in the fiscal year 2001 budget for
this purpose," McCain said.


From Clark Whelton <>

"The Comet of 1577," by C. Doris Hellman (Columbia University Press,
1944), a comprehensive study of medieval astronomy from original
sources, makes no mention of a "circle of fire" being reported in 1571.

The mid-to-late16th century, however, was a very influential period in
the development of modern astronomical ideas... many large comets were
seen, notably in 1566, 1577 and 1618.

The great supernovae of 1572 and 1604 were mortal blows to
Aristotelean-Ptolemaic theory, which held the starry realm to be
unchangeable. This doddering system perished entirely in the following
decades, when parallax measurements indicated that comets travelled in
paths far beyond the 52 Earth radii that supposedly separated the Earth
from the moon. 

In his article "Starry Messengers," (The Sciences, Jan.-Feb. 1992)
Frederic Baumgartner discusses the extraordinary display of celestial
activity between 1560 and 1630.  In 1583, for example, there was a
great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.

Baumgartner comments:

"Conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn take place throughout the zodiac
every 20 years in a regular pattern that repeats every 800 years,
beginning at the same location in the initial sign.  It was thought
that the world was created during the first conjunction of Jupiter and
Saturn in Aries -- the original great conjunction.  In that scheme the
phenomenon of 1583 was the eighth since the creation of the world. 
Great events such  as birth of Christ and the reign of Charlemagne had
always followed great conjunctions.
"Speculation was rampant that the upcoming conjunction would augur some
great event, perhaps the Second Coming. Since it bore such a heavy load
of prognostication, astronomers meticulously tracked the paths of the
two planets.  The observations showed that many of the contemporary
ephemerides -- star tables -- that give the positions of the sun, the
moon, and the planets by time of day, month and year -- were grossly in
error. Furthermore, the tables based on Ptolemy's theory were among the
worst. Many astronomers worked to create new ones.  Those
based on Tycho's observations were the best available until the
late 17th century. They also served as the observational basis
for key astronomical theories, particularly Kepler's, in the
succeeding century."

It should also be noted that this period of heavy celestial activity
also saw Pope Gregory's reform of the Julian calendar (1575-82). 
Personally, I doubt the Julian calendar slipped slowly out of sync with
the vernal equinox over a period of some1,600 years. Might the
erroneous star tables, active skies and calendar reform of the 16th
century have been interconnected in some way?

Baumgartner concludes his article by noting: "The run of dramatic
celestial phenomena was unparalleled for a 70-year period: in addition
to the phenomena I listed earlier -- two of only three supernovas ever
recorded in Europe, two of the greatest comets ever seen and unusually
high sunspot activity -- there were two total eclipses of the sun, a
great conjunction and a transit of Mercury. In the eight decades since
the the appearance of Comet Halley in 1910, Europe has seen virtually
none of those events."



A recent Cincinnati Enquirer headline read, "Baked bread may be health
hazard." The article described the dangers of the aromas emitted from
freshly baked bread. The main danger is that organic compounds of this
aroma may break down ozone. They point to some frightening statistics -

* More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread eaters.
* Fully HALF of all children from bread-consuming households score
  below average on standardized tests.
* More than 90 percent of all violent crimes are committed within 24
  hours of eating bread.
* Bread is made from "dough". As little as one pound of dough can
  suffocate a mouse. The average American eats more bread than that in
  a few days.
* Primitive tribal societies that have no bread exhibit a low incidence
  of prostate cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease,
  arthritis and osteoporosis.
* Bread has been proven to be addictive. Subjects deprived of bread and
  given only water, begged for bread after only two days.
* Most bread eaters are unable to distinguish between scientific fact
  and meaningless statistical babbling.

The CCNet is a scholarly electronic network. To subscribe/unsubscribe,
please contact the moderator Benny J Peiser <>.
Information circulated on this network is for scholarly and
educational use only. The attached information may not be copied or
reproduced for any other purposes without prior permission of the
copyright holders. The fully indexed archive of the CCNet, from
February 1997 on, can be found at


[CCNet addendum]

Cornell University News

'Treasure map' of inner space shows orbits and sizes of 900 large
asteroids, some of which could threaten Earth

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: 2 p.m. EDT, June 22, 2000

Contact: David Brand
Office: (607) 255-3651

ITHACA, N.Y. -- A new study portrays the paths of asteroids in the
inner solar system as a vast Los Angeles-style traffic system
crisscrossed with superhighways along which are hurtling huge, rocky
projectiles. And in the middle of the highway network, on a possible
collision path, is the planet Earth.

The study estimates that an armada of asteroids, 900 strong, all a
kilometer in diameter or larger, present a potential hazard to life on
Earth. Some pass within a few moon distances of Earth every year.
"Sometime in the future, one of these objects could conceivably run
into the Earth," warns astronomy researcher William Bottke at Cornell
University. "One kilometer (about .6 of a mile) in size is thought to
be a magic number, because it has been estimated that these asteroids
are capable of wreaking global devastation if they hit the Earth."

Bottke is lead researcher on a U.S.-French team that has discovered the
spatial and size distribution of a large group of asteroids called NEAs
(for near-Earth asteroids), a vast system of orbiting rocks in inner
space, ranging in size from mere specks to more than 64 kilometers (40
miles) in diameter. The astronomers believe the results of their
observational and computer-based study will better quantify the
likelihood of future catastrophic collisions with Earth. The survey
also is expected to help observational astronomers in improving their
search for hard-to-find asteroids that might pose a threat to the

The team's report, "Understanding the Distribution of Near-Earth
Asteroids," appears in the latest edition (June 23) of the journal
Science. The authors, besides Cornell's Bottke, are astronomers with
the Spacewatch group at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary
Laboratory and at the Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur in Nice, France.

Calculating which, if any, of the 900 asteroids identified in the study
could hit the Earth is tricky, says Bottke. "The problem is that fewer
than half of these Earth-threatening asteroids have been discovered so
far. Of those we have found, we can accurately predict whether they
will strike the Earth over the next hundred years or so, but we can't
project out several thousands of years. So it's possible some of these
asteroids eventually will move onto an Earth-collision trajectory. It's
a dangerous place out there."

The new predictions for the distribution of NEAs in the inner solar
system, say the astronomers, imply that 40 percent of the
kilometer-or-larger asteroids near Earth already have been discovered.
The remaining 60 percent, however, might be more difficult to find,
says Bottke. "Most of these asteroids are too far from Earth to be
easily detected or are located in regions of the sky that are
challenging for astronomers to survey."

The study's authors refer to their survey as a "NEA treasure map"
indicating in which orbits most NEAs spend their time. The researchers
say the new estimate of the number of large asteroids is about half of
that predicted by similar types of analyses reported in the past decade
and is slightly larger than an estimate published recently in the
journal Nature.

For many decades there has been good evidence that most of the small
chunks of rocky or iron material that slam into the Earth's atmosphere
daily are chips off old blocks of asteroids. Most of the asteroids in
the solar system revolve around the sun on independent orbits,
corralled between Mars and Jupiter in a formation known as the main
belt. Occasionally, two of these asteroids -- some of them hundreds of
miles in diameter -- slam into each other at great speed, causing
chunks of all sizes to be blasted off the surfaces.

Most of this material continues to orbit the sun in the main belt. But
sometimes the newly formed asteroids migrate to unstable regions of the
asteroid belt known as resonances, areas where the tiny gravitational
kicks produced by nearby planets such as Mars, Jupiter or Saturn can
significantly change asteroid orbits. In some cases, these changes are
enough to swing asteroids into a possible future collision path with
the Earth.

To find the location of these potentially threatening and hard-to-find
projectiles, the researchers used the results of the Spacewatch group's
10-year search for asteroids in the solar system during which it has
discovered about 100 NEAs. The problem is that this tally is only a
small fraction of the predicted number of NEAs. Using a statistical
technique to compensate for the big gaps, Spacewatch astronomers were
able to calculate the total number of NEAs but not their approximate
location. To obtain the orbits of the undetected NEAs, Spacewatch
astronomers combined their NEA population estimates with theoretical
models, produced by the Cornell and Nice researchers, which show how
asteroids in the main belt are transported to the near-Earth

Other authors of the study were Robert Jedicke of the University of
Arizona and Alessandro Morbidelli, Jean-Marc Petit and Brett Gladman of
the Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur. The study was funded by NASA and
the European Space Agency.

Related World Wide Web sites: The following sites provide additional
information on this news release. Some might not be part of the Cornell
University community, and Cornell has no control over their content or

- University of Arizona, Lunar and Planetary Observatory, Spacewatch

- Near-Earth Object Program, Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

- Asteroid and Comet Impact Hazards, NASA Ames Space Science Division:

- Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur:

CCCMENU CCC for 2000