CCNet 78/2002 - 5 July  2002

"The problem of protection of the Earth from the collision with an
asteroid is its urgency. As astronomical observations are
accumulated there is a tendency of transition from the general statement
of problem to picking out particular tasks whose solutions expediently
should be stated at the present time. One of such task is the creation of
space rocket complexes as a link for anti-asteroid protection of the Earth."
--S. Konyukhov and N. Slyunyayev, ACTA ASTRONAUTICA, May

"After mastering these technologies, certain events may provide the
necessary financial means and social impetus for the foundation of the
first asteroid-based colonies. In the first scenario, a rich minority
group becomes persecuted and they decide to leave the Earth. In the second
scenario, a "cold war"-like situation exists and the leaders of the
superpowers order the creation of asteroid-based colonies to show off their
empires' technological (and financial) grandiosity. In the third
scenario, the basic situation is similar to the second one, but in
this case the asteroids are not just occupied by the colonists. With
several decades of hard work, an asteroid can be turned into a kinetic
energy weapon which can provide the same (or greater) threat as the nuclear
arsenal of a present superpower. In the fourth scenario, some military
asteroids are moved to Earth- centred orbits and utilised as "solar power
satellites" (SPS)."
--C. Kecskes, ACTA ASTRONAUTICA, May 2002

    Pravda, 29 June 2002

    Andrew Yee <>

    Associated Press, 2 July 2002

    Kecskes C

    Konyukhov S, Slyunyayev N

    Evans NW, Tabachnik SA:

    Ron Baalke <>

    Andrew Yee <>

    Ohio State University, 28 June 2002

    Fred Singer <> and Tom Van Flandern

     Mark Boslough <>

     Hermann Burchard <>

     Linda Sloan <>


>From Pravda, 29 June 2002

A very powerful blast took place 94 years ago 70 kilometers far from the
settlement of Vanavara in Russia's Siberian republic of Evenkiya. The power
of the explosion was equal to two thousand explosions of Hiroshima A-bomb.

A huge meteorite flew over the vast territory of West Siberia on June 30,
1908 at 7:15 a.m. The people, who could see the meteorite in cloudless sky,
were horrified with its bright light and rattling sounds. People said that
they could see a big ball of fire flying eastwards and falling in the woods.
When scientists evinced their interest in the meteorite, they calculated the
damage of the Earth - 2000 square kilometers. The blast of the year 1908
changed the magnetic field of the Earth: the magnetic storm, which was
registered on the outskirts of the Russian city of Irkutsk, lasted for 3.5

Strange consequences of the collision continued 15-20 hours after the
catastrophe: unusual luminescence of the atmosphere and noctilucent clouds
were registered on the territory, which totaled 12 million square
kilometers. The radiance of the sky was so bright, that people could not
fall asleep - the light was so bright that you could easily read a newspaper
at night.

Thousands of square kilometers of woods were burnt. Scientists have had a
lot of talks, trying to find out the reason of the phenomenon in Siberia.
The major version was about the collision of the Earth with a comet or an
asteroid, but none of countless expeditions found either a crater, or some
fragments of a space object. This gave birth to a lot of unusual hypotheses:
someone said that it was connected with aliens, others said that the Earth
collided with a black hole. For the time being there are more than a hundred
of hypotheses, explaining the reason of the super-blast: they vary from the
explosion of marsh gas (methane) to a spaceship catastrophe.

The epicenter of the explosion is still preserved: thousands of trees, lying
on the ground with their roots to the center. There is the Tunguska state
reserve on that site currently, which gathers scientists (and even tourists)
from all over the world. Other hypotheses supposed that the Tunguska
meteorite was made of the anti-substance. The blast that could be seen and
heard, when the meteorite fell down, was the result of the collision of the
substance of the Earth and the anti-substance of the meteorite. But the
radioactivity is normal in the area of the fall, there are no radioactive
elements in the rocks, so a nuclear explosion could not take place there. It
was also supposed that the Tunguska meteorite was a micro-black hole, which
entered the Earth in the area of the fall, ran through the planet and went
out in the Atlantic ocean. This hypothesis also has its contradictions, like
the issue of micro-black holes existence, luminescence of atmosphere, etc.
Italian scientists said that they found the right answer: they said that an
asteroid of low density blew up in the atmosphere of the Earth.

The Tunguska meteorite was apparently similar to Matilda asteroid, which was
photographed by NEAR-Shoemaker spacecraft in 1997. Matilda's density was
close to water. Such an object could explode and fall to little pieces in
the atmosphere, but the air-blast could reach the Earth, which explained the
absence of fragments.

Elena Kiseleva

Copyright 2002, PRAVDA.Ru


>From Andrew Yee <>

ESA Science News

03 Jul 2002

Successful deployment tests for Rosetta

The hectic schedule of ground tests on ESA's comet chaser has continued in
recent weeks as engineers at the European Space Research and Technology
Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands put the Rosetta spacecraft through its paces.

The latest phase of these critical pre-flight tests has involved checks of
the various arrays and booms that will be extended from the cube-shaped body
of the Rosetta orbiter during its eight-year trek to Comet Wirtanen.

Most critical of all were the deployment tests on the two giant solar wings
that will power Rosetta throughout its 10-year mission to deep space and
back. These arrays, each 14 metres in length, are covered with more than 22,000
specially developed silicon cells that are designed to operate in conditions of low
sunlight and low temperature up to five times the Earth's distance
from the Sun.

The 'minus-y' array, located to the left of the dish-shaped high gain
antenna, was the first to be unfolded. This was followed a day later by
deployment of the 'plus-y' array on the opposite side of the spacecraft.

Held in place by six Kevlar cables -- a necessary means for the hold-down of
the arrays during launch -- each solar array was released after commands
sent via the spacecraft activated the deployment sequence. 'Thermal knives'
severed the cables in turn by heating them to a temperature of several hundreds
of degrees Celsius.

After the sixth cable was cut, the array began to unfold like a giant
accordion. Attached to a huge deployment rig specially developed by Dutch
Space (formerly Fokker), the five panels in
each array were gradually extended to their full length across the clean
room. In order to simulate the zero gravity conditions of outer space, the
weight of the arrays was supported by a mass compensation device equipped
with dozens of springs.

"Both tests went very well and there was a big round of applause when they
were successfully completed," said Walter Pinter-Krainer, Principal AIV
Systems Engineer for Rosetta.

Confident that their spacecraft's powerhouse would deploy properly after
launch, the engineers went on to check out Rosetta's other movable parts.
First came a partial deployment of the 2.2-metre-diameter communications
dish, when three explosive charges known as pyros were fired to release the
antenna from its stowed launch position.

The engineers also had to retreat to the safety of an observation area in
the clean room for the firing of more pyros during the deployment of the
upper and lower experiment booms on the orbiter. Each two-metre-long boom
carries probes and other equipment that will investigate the magnetic field
and particle environment around Comet Wirtanen.

The fifth and final deployment test involved the release of a wire antenna
to be used by the CONSERT experiment. After another explosive charge was
fired, this unusual, H-shaped aerial was gently unfolded, suspended beneath
five helium balloons in order to simulate the weightlessness of space. Once
again, the trial was completed without a hitch.

"All of the deployment tests were very successful," commented Walter
Pinter-Krainer. "These were crucial moments in our test programme and we
were very happy to see everything working so well."

Rosetta will be launched in just over six months' time. The Ariane 5 launch
from Kourou in French Guiana is scheduled for the night of 12-13 January


* More about Rosetta


[Image 1: ]
CONSERT antenna deployment. The balloons allow the absence of
gravity to be simulated.

[Image 2: ]
One wing fully deployed, the other one is in the stowed position.

[Image 3: ]
One wing fully deployed.


>From Associated Press, 2 July 2002

CLEVELAND (AP) _ NASA Glenn Research Center has been awarded $21 million
over the next 3{ years to develop a new propulsion system that could carry
spacecraft to explore planets, asteroids and comets.

NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster system will use xenon gas and electrical
power, rather than chemical propulsion, to move unmanned spacecraft faster
and with larger scientific payloads.

We've been working in this technology area for 40 years, project manager
Scott Benson said.

Ion propulsion is used only in deep space to get a craft to its destination.
Benson said electromagnetic forces and electric current are responsible for
ion propulsion, rather than the combustion and heat used in chemical

It allows us to carry more science instruments and get them there faster,
with the same launch system, Benson said. We think it will be used on a
variety of crafts going to a variety of destinations.

Researchers at NASA Glenn will be responsible for technical oversight of all
design, Benson said.

The project has two phases. At the end of the first year, NASA headquarters
will review the initial design, construction and testing done at NASA Glenn.

If the design tests out and if headquarters has the money, the research will
continue and the system will be completed, Benson said.

Copyright 2002 The Associated Press


Kecskes C: Scenarios which may lead to the rise of an asteroid-based technical civilisation
ACTA ASTRONAUTICA 50 (9): 569-577 MAY 2002

In a previous paper, the author described a hypothetical development path of
technical civilisations which has the following stages: planet dwellers,
asteroid dwellers, interstellar travellers, interstellar space dwellers. In
this paper, several scenarios are described which may cause the rise of an
asteroid-based technical civilisation. Before such a transition may take
place, certain space technologies must be developed fully (now these exist
only in, preliminary forms): closed-cycle biological life support systems,
space manufacturing systems, electrical propulsion systems. After mastering
these technologies, certain events may provide the necessary financial means
and social impetus for the foundation of the first asteroid-based colonies.
In the first scenario, a rich minority group becomes persecuted and they
decide to leave the Earth. In the second scenario, a "cold war"-like
situation exists and the leaders of the superpowers order the creation of
asteroid-based colonies to show off their empires' technological (and
financial) grandiosity. In the third scenario, the basic situation is
similar to the second one, but in this case the asteroids are not just
occupied by the colonists. With several decades of hard work, an asteroid
can be turned into a kinetic energy weapon which can provide the same (or
greater) threat as the nuclear arsenal of a present superpower. In the
fourth scenario, some military asteroids are moved to Earth-centred orbits
and utilised as "solar power satellites" (SPS). This would be a quite
economical solution because a "military asteroid" already contains most of
the important components of an SPS (large solar collector arrays, power
distribution devices, orbit modifying rocket engine), one should add only a
large microwave transmitter. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights

Kecskes C, 35 Diosarok Ut, H-1125 Budapest, Hungary

Copyright 2002 Institute for Scientific Information


Konyukhov S, Slyunyayev N: Conception of the creation of space rocket
complex as necessary link for anti-asteroid protection of the earth. ACTA
ASTRONAUTICA 50 (10): 629-632 MAY 2002

The problem of protection of the Earth from the collision with an asteroid
is its urgency. As astronomical observations are accumulated there is a
tendency of transition from the general statement of problem to picking out
particular tasks whose solutions expediently should be stated at the present
time. One of such task is the creation of space rocket complexes as a link
for anti-asteroid protection of the Earth. Reviewed in this report are
versions of space rocket complexes to prevent the collision of the Earth
with the hypothetical model of asteroid. The model characteristics were
chosen near to the characteristics of the asteroids 1997XF11. In so doing it
is assumed conventionally that, in result of disturbances from external
factors at flight portion which are invisible from the Earth, the asteroid
model trajectory will not pass by the Earth at the distance of about 966,
000 km, but will cross it. The conception given in the report supposes the
task solution in sequence consisting of several phases:
* updating of the asteroid characteristics and trajectory; evaluation of
possibility of apparatus installation on it;
* evaluation of aggregate of factors such as time to detect the asteroid,
probability of its meeting with the Earth, accident scales to be expected
during collision;
* choice of both technical configuration of space rocket complexes and the
versions of interaction of its elements.
In the report the preliminary schemes of structures of means of influence on
the asteroid are shown. In so doing the range of specific power of these
means is rather wide. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Konyukhov S, Yuzhnoye State Design Off, 3 Krivorozhskaya Str, UA-49008
Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine
Yuzhnoye State Design Off, UA-49008 Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

Copyright 2002 Institute for Scientific Information


Evans NW, Tabachnik SA: Structure of possible long-lived asteroid belts

High-resolution simulations are used to map out the detailed structure of
two long-lived stable belts of asteroid orbits in the inner Solar system.
The Vulcanoid belt extends from 0.09 to 0.20 au, though with a gaps at 0.15
and 0.18 au corresponding to de-stabilizing mean motion resonances with
Mercury and Venus. As collisional evolution proceeds slower at larger
heliocentric distances, km-sized or larger Vulcanoids are most likely to be
found in the region between 0.16 and 0.18 au. The optimum location to search
is at geocentric ecliptic longitudes 9degreesless than or equal to\l(g)
\less than or equal to10degrees and latitudes \beta (g) \<1degrees.
Dynamically speaking, the Earth-Mars belt between 1.08 and 1.28 au is a
stable repository for asteroids on nearly circular orbits. It is interrupted
at 1.21 au owing to the 3:4 commensurability with the Earth, while secular
resonances with Saturn are troublesome beyond 1.17 au. These detailed maps
of the fine structure of the belts can be used to plan search methodologies.
Strategies for detecting members of the belts are discussed, including the
use of infrared wide-field imaging with VISTA, and forthcoming European
Space Agency satellite missions such as GAIA and BepiColombo .

Evans NW, Univ Oxford, 1 Keble Rd, Oxford OX1 3NP, England
Univ Oxford, Oxford OX1 3NP, England
Princeton Univ Observ, Princeton, NJ 08544 USA

Copyright 2002 Institute for Scientific Information


>From Ron Baalke <>

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Press Release No.: 02-17
For Release: July 1, 2002


Cambridge, MA -- Want some quick money in these days of WorldCom and Enron?
Go and find a comet! An annual award of several thousand dollars for
discoveries of comets by amateur astronomers has just been announced for the
fourth consecutive year.

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), part of the
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has
announced the recipients of the 2002 Edgar Wilson Award for the discovery of
comets by amateurs during the calendar year ending June 10. The award was
set aside as part of the will bequeathed by the late businessman Edgar
Wilson of Lexington, Kentucky, and administered by the SAO. The following
seven discoverers will receive plaques and a cash award:

    * Vance Avery Petriew of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, for his visual
      discovery of comet P/2001 Q2 on 2001 August 18.
    * Kaoru Ikeya of Mori, Shuchi, Shizuoka, Japan, and Daqing Zhang,
      Kaifeng, Henan province, China, for their independent visual
      discoveries of comet C/2002 C1 on 2002 February 1.
    * Douglas Snyder of Palominas, Arizona, and Shigeki Murakami of
      Matsunoyama, Niigata, Japan, for their independent visual discoveries
      of comet C/2002 E2 on 2002 March 11.
    * Syogo Utsunomiya of Minami-Oguni, Aso, Kumamoto, Japan, for his
      visual discovery of comet C/2002 F1 on 2002 March 18.
    * William Kwong Yu Yeung of Benson, Arizona for his
      charge-coupled-device (CCD) electronic-camera discovery of comet
      P/2002 BV.

Observers Ikeya and Utsunomiya have had their names attached to comets
previously. Comet C/2002 F1 was Utsunomiya's third named comet; he also won
the Edgar Wilson Award in 2001 for C/2000 W1 (Utsunomiya-Jones). Ikeya
became world-famous in the 1960s for a string of five comet discoveries
between 1963 and 1967, with comet C/1965 S1 (Ikeya-Seki) becoming likely the
brightest comet of the last century -- visible in broad daylight to the
unaided eye as it skimmed closely by the sun's surface in October 1965.

At the beginning of the 17th century, Johannes Kepler thought there were
more comets in the skies than there were fish in the seas. Many other people
then still clung to the view of malevolent visitors bent on mischief
prowling through the earth's atmosphere, whereby comets were seen as
harbingers of doom, creators of earthquakes, disasters, famine, defeat in
battles and deaths of kings. Going back to ancient times, the sudden
appearance of comets, their enormous size, and their just-as-sudden
departures raised superstitious fears wherever they were observed.

Hundreds of comets were observed and recorded before the invention of the
telescope in 1609, and the number of discoveries soared when better-quality
telescopes came into use in the 18th century. Armed with small instruments
that pale in comparison to ones available to amateur astronomers today, the
race to discover new comets and gain recognition and fame began.

Nicknamed the "Ferret of Comets" by the King of France in the 1760s, Charles
Messier became one of the most famous comet hunters of all time. He just
missed the recovery of Halley's comet in December 1758 at its first
predicted return, but for the next fifteen years, nearly all comet
discoveries were made by Messier. It was rumored that he may have been even
more upset over the discovery of a comet by a rival while he was attending
his dying wife than he was over her death.

Nearly two hundred years have passed since the comet discoveries of Messier.
Today amateur astronomers continue to discover new comets that may bear
their names for eternity. Fighting increasing light pollution and
competition from sophisticated professional observatories, the challenges
and rewards have become even greater. There have been numerous comet awards
over the centuries, but the Wilson Award is currently the largest publicly
known award.

The six visual discoveries of this past year involved four different comets
and represent the most new comets discovered by visual observers since 1994.
Automated CCD searches with large professional telescopes have dominated
comet discovery since 1998. Utsunomiya's discovery was made with large
25x150 binoculars (having lenses with diameters of 6 inches). The other
discoveries were all made with moderate-sized reflecting telescopes having
mirrors with diameters ranging from 10 to 20 inches.

Yeung's discovery image was obtained on 2002 January 21, but he reported the
object initially as stellar in appearance and it was given a minor-planet
(rather than cometary) designation; CCD images taken by Timothy Spahr at the
SAO station on Mount Hopkins in Arizona in early May showed that P/2002 BV
was indeed cometary with a faint tail, and Yeung's object was announced as a
comet on May 9 (IAU Circular 7896).

The brightest comet of the bunch, C/2002 C1 (Ikeya-Zhang) , became a faint
naked-eye object this past March and April for northern-hemisphere
observers, and is of special interest because it is the first return of this
comet to the inner solar system in 341 years, since it was last observed in
1661. Carefully made observations in February and March 1661 by the Polish
astronomer Johannes Hevelius have allowed astronomers to confirm that the
two apparitions belong to the same comet, though for centuries it was
speculated erroneously that the 1661 comet might be identical with a comet
seen in 1532. Comet C/2002 C1 is now the comet with the longest orbital
period that has been definitely seen at two or more returns to perihelion
(closest approach to the sun). The famous Halley's comet orbits the sun
roughly once every 76 years.

In 2001, there were only two recipients of the Award, for their independent
visual discoveries of a single comet (Albert Jones of New Zealand and Syogo
Utsunomiya). Of the 20 Award recipients in the first four years, twelve have
been for visual discoveries, seven for discoveries from CCD images, and one
for a discovery from a photograph. The countries with the most recipients so
far are the United States (5), Japan (4), and Australia (4). In years when
there are no eligible comet discoverers, the Award is made instead to
amateur astronomers judged by the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams
(CBAT) to have made important contributions toward observing comets or
promoting an interest in the study of comets.

Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center
for Astrophysics (CfA) is a joint collaboration between the Smithsonian
Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. CfA
scientists organized into seven research divisions study the origin,
evolution, and ultimate fate of the universe.

For more information:

http://cfa-www.ha ml

David A. Aguilar
Director of Public Affairs
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Christine Lafon
Public Affairs Specialist
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Phone: 617-495-7463, Fax: 617-495-7016


>From Andrew Yee <>

Saint Louis University
St. Louis, Missouri

Clayton Berry
Phone: 314.977.7117

July 2, 2002

Geologist's Discovery May Unlock Secrets to Start of Life on Earth

Scientist continues to build case for origin of plate tectonics

ST. LOUIS -- A Saint Louis University geologist has unearthed further
evidence in his mounting case that shifting of the continents -- and perhaps
life on Earth -- began much earlier than many scientists believe.

Tim Kusky, a professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences, has discovered the
world's first large intact pieces of oceanic mantle from the planet's
earliest period, the Archean. The nearly mile-long section of rock, which is billions
of years old, may hold clues as to when life developed on the planet. The major
finding was reported today in the July issue of GSA-Today -- the premier journal
of the Geological Society of America.

Working with colleagues from Peking University, Kusky uncovered the rare
find at a site near the Great Wall where last year the team discovered the
planet's oldest complete section of oceanic crust. Reported in Science, their work
recently was heralded by the Chinese government as one of the most significant
scientific findings of 2001.

This latest discovery may prove even more remarkable. For years, scientists
have longed to find large pieces of the planet's deep interiors. But until
now, they've had to rely on only tiny fragments to study. Formed tens of kilometers
below the ancient sea floor, this new discovery's massive mantle rocks are preserved
in a highly faulted belt 100 kilometers long. Unlike the sea floor samples Kusky found last
year, the mantle rocks preserve 2.5 billion-year-old minerals that hold
clues to the origin of plate tectonics. The minerals, including an unusual
type of chromite deposit only known from deep ocean floor rocks appear to
have been deformed at extremely high temperatures before they were
completely crystallized by volcanic

This shows that the mantle rocks were flowing away from the ridges on the
oceanic floor, evidence that the continents began shifting more than 500
million years earlier than now widely believed. Because the discovery shows
that the plates were moving in that early period, these findings could have
a more far-reaching effect on theories related to the development of life on
the planet. Just when single-celled organisms evolved into more complex
organisms has been contested for years. Because hot volcanic vents on the
sea floor may have provided the nutrients and temperatures needed for life
to flourish, Kusky said it's possible that life developed and diversified
around these vents as the plates started stirring.

Kusky and Peking University's J.H. Li have initiated a series of studies on
the section of ancient mantle and it's minerals aimed at understanding the
conditions of the Earth 2.5 billion years ago. Their work is being funded by
U.S. National Science Foundation, the Chinese National Natural Science
Foundation, Saint Louis University and Peking University. The Chinese
government also has dedicated a natural geologic park at the site of the

Saint Louis University is a leading Catholic, Jesuit, research institution
ranked among the top 50 national, doctoral universities as a best value by
U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1818, the University strives to foster
the intellectual and spiritual growth of its more than 11,000 students
through a broad array of undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
programs on campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain.


>From Ohio State University, 28 June 2002
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A team of Ohio State University researchers has returned
from an expedition in southeastern Alaska with the longest ice core ever
drilled from a mountainous glacier.

The core measures 460 meters (1,509 feet) and is 150 meters (492 feet)
longer than the previous longest core - a record of ice from the Guliya ice
cap in western China that eventually relinquished a climate record
stretching back 760,000 years - the oldest such record retrieved to date.

Until the new core is analyzed in detail, scientists won't know if it
exceeds the historic record provided by the Guliya core, but visible
evidence in the new core itself suggests that the ice might reach back
through several ice ages.

In April, Lonnie Thompson, professor of geological sciences at Ohio State,
led this expedition - his 44th - to an ice cap that straddled the col, or
saddle, between Mount Churchill and Mount Bona in the Wrangell-St. Elias
National Park on the U.S.-Canadian border.

Mount Churchill is a 15,638-foot (4,766-meter) stratovolcano while Mount
Bona is its 16,420-foot (5,005-meter) neighbor. The drill site on the col
stood at an altitude of 14,500 feet (4,300 meters).

The core also revealed evidence that suggests geologists may have to rethink
their understanding of the volcanic history of this region.

For years, scientists have believed that Mount Churchill was the source of a
massive deposit of tephra, or volcanic ash, called the White River Ash that
rose from at least two eruptions within the last 2000 years. That blast
released between 25 and 30 cubic kilometers of ash across at least 340,000
square kilometers (131,275 square miles) in northwestern Canada and
adjoining eastern Alaska.

Thompson's team expected to find a layer of White River Ash several meters
thick in the core since Mount Churchill, sitting adjacent to the drill site,
is the believed source. They were shocked to discover that the ice core
contained no such ash layer, making it unlikely for Churchill to have been
the cause of the deposit.

"There simply was no ash there," Thompson said. "To me, that argues that
this mountain couldn't have been the source and that instead, Churchill may
have served as a barrier to the ash that was coming from another source."

As if the absent ash layer wasn't enough evidence, Thompson's team found
more obvious clues at their feet early in the expedition. On the ground
surrounding the crater rim at the top of Mount Churchill, they found
boulders and rocks composed of granodiorite, an igneous rock that is not
produced by volcanic eruptions.

"These granodiorite pieces at the crater rim are sculpted by ice. These
aren't fragments -- they are smooth boulders. This kind of rock shouldn't be
present at the crater rim," Thompson said.
"If there had been an explosion at Mount Churchill large enough to have
produced the White River Ash, it would have either blown the rocks away or
buried them deeply."

The discovery of the granodiorite evidence at the crater rim may have been
serendipitous. That area is normally covered under deep layers of snow most
of the year and clears only for a few weeks at the end of winter. The Ohio
State team just happened to reach the site when the ground was clear and the
rocks were visible.

"A few weeks later and all of them would have been covered, he said. "That's
probably why no one has noticed this evidence before."

Even more surprising for expedition members was the discovery of several
layers of pebbles of this same granodiorite in the bottom portion of the
core. At a depth of 432 meters (1,417 feet), the team hit two layers of
pebbles in the ice, separated by about seven centimeters (2.75 inches) of
clean ice. They also encountered numerous pebble layers in the last two
meters (6.5 feet) of the core.

While a precise explanation for these pebble layers must await a detailed
analysis of the core, Thompson suggests that they may be evidence that
massive ice sheets had overrun the mountain in the past.

During the last ice age, the eastern United States was covered by the
Laurentide Ice Sheet while the American west was blanketed by the
4,000-foot-thick Cordilleran Ice Sheet. As these massive sheets moved, they
scraped off stones from the underlying rock and transported them for
thousands of miles.

Thompson believes both the stones at the crater rim and the pebble layers
are remnants of those ice sheets. And the fact that they found multiple
layers in the core suggests the area had been overrun by ice several times.
Once the ice in the core is dated, they should have a better idea of when
the layers were formed.

The Ohio State team returned with six cores altogether, all packed in 105
insulated boxes each containing six meters (19.6 feet) of ice. Along with
the longest 460-meter core, they drilled a 116-meter (380.5-foot) core that
will provide a complementary record to confirm the upper part of the longer
core, and together both cores are expected to provide a climate history for
this region reaching back thousands of years. They also drilled four
12-meter (39.3-foot) cores to help determine the snow accumulation rate at
the site.

The Office of Polar Programs in the National Science Foundation supported
the project.


Contact: Lonnie Thompson, (614) 292-6652; or
Written by Earle Holland, (614) 292-8384;



>From Fred Singer <> and Tom Van Flandern


This note contains a response to the last letter from Mark Boslough (CCNet
27 June 2002), and a reply to a recent comment by Ian Giblin (CCNet 2 July

Mark Boslough and Peter Fawcett have kindly provided a preprint of their
paper. It is an innocuous exercise in applying a rather standard climate
model assuming an arbitrary forcing. In the light of our previous
criticisms, amplified below, analyzing it further seems unnecessary. In the

1. They create a debris ring around the Earth with a  lot of hand-waving,
invoking dubious hydrodynamics, interaction with a vapor cloud, etc. But
they have not done any primary work themselves. They simply quote other
papers to support their case.

2. Strangely, they do not discuss the impact theory for the formation of the
Moon, nor do they quote Asphaug and Canup anywhere. Why does not the
orbiting ring coalesce into a moon because of gravitational instability
(Ward)? What indeed is the fate of the ring and its lifetime? What about
perturbations of the ring particles by solar radiation pressure and by
Coulomb interactions? [One of us (sfs} has a paper in Nature way back that
discusses such perturbations and lifetime for the copper needles of the
Westford Project.]

3. The paper deals mainly with the climate consequences of a shadowing ring.
It is ASSUMED to be optically opaque and of an arbitrarily modeled width. No
attempt is made to calculate its mass to test the reasonableness of the
whole exercise.

4. The paper does have a useful though incomplete bibliography.
In his last letter, Mark Boslough writes:

> Impacts (especially grazing ones) are not point sources.

Nothing but a mathematical "point" is truly a point source. But how is the
size of a grazing impact crater significantly more than a "point source"
with respect to the whole Earth? How can an extended source meet any of the
objections raised?

> Expanding vapor plumes have turbulence and vorticity associated
with them.

We previously argued that the plasma motions didn't matter. Any plausible
way they can apply a force does nothing to solve the angular momentum
problem for impact fragments, or equivalently to raise their perigee above
the atmosphere and keep it there.

> There is no "above the atmosphere" during the impact process.
That makes it even harder to achieve a stable orbit because the fragment
needs to get even higher. Moreover, up and down motions of atmosphere cannot
solve the angular momentum problem. One needs a horizontal thrust from
behind after the fragment has reached stable-orbit altitude. No amount of
arm-waving can produce that kind of force. That is why the idea of achieving
orbit from impact alone is still generally considered to be "impossible".
The fact that Boslough and Fawcett did not even address this basic objection
in their paper tells us that it caught them by surprise, even though they
protested in their letter that they already knew this basic celestial
mechanics point. However, unless they can out-think all the people who have
previously considered this problem over the past two centuries and failed to
think of a possible solution, their effort to do so now is likewise doomed.
As we explained in our last note, they must specify the specifics of how
forward angular momentum gets transferred to a fragment once it is above the
atmosphere. Anything less will appeal only to readers unfamiliar with basic
celestial mechanics, unlike those of us who were raised from infancy by our
mothers with the secure knowledge that doing what they are trying to do is
impossible. J

> It turns out that grazing impacts can do exactly what you say is
needed (for some fraction of the ejecta).
Okay, that is the crux of the matter. Please explain how. Describe the
source of the push that lifts the perigee to stable-orbit altitude.
> I think you are saying that acceleration by a single shock and
rarefaction to 3 km/s would vaporize a rock.

That is necessarily true for small, weak bodies such as asteroids and
meteorites resulting from impacts. The impactor vaporizes when it suddenly
decelerates at impact. And the shock wave it produces vaporizes anything
accelerated to > 3 km/s by the shock wave. In hypervelocity research, I'm
sure some very smart people have thought about this and developed ways for
getting around the limit with special circumstances. But it doesn't take a
rocket scientist to understand that, if you apply a force to a body with a
shock wave stronger that the binding force of the molecules, the body will
fly apart.

Looking at the basic physics involved, we think the key difference
applicable to the hypervelocity experiments Boslough cites must be this: The
shock wave from an impact is the only force significant enough to accelerate
ponderable rocks. And that shock wave passes through the rock only once. The
rest of the ejecta (e.g., the "plasma cloud") is irrelevant for the purpose
of acceleration because it is mostly moving radially and pre-sorted by
speed. So the acceleration must be accomplished in the time it takes the
shock wave to pass through the body. For a 10-cm body accelerated to 3 km/s,
I'll assume a 10 km/s shock wave (anything much less couldn't launch ejecta
into orbit), which means the entire acceleration must take place within less
than 0.000 01 sec. Boslough says that the hypervelocity experiment "breaks
one big shock up into a series of smaller ones". That makes perfect sense,
because if it were done with one shock, the body would vaporize. But by
using numerous smaller shocks, none of which is individually able to
vaporize the body, one can get the body up to arbitrarily high speeds by a
mini-version of what a rocket does to reach orbit.

We are not singling Boslough and Fawcett out for criticism. We are critical
of the whole segment of the community (including work in some of the
published papers cited to support the present work) that has ignored some
basic constraints of physics and dynamics to promote what are surely models
with unsolvable problems. Such models can serve only to retard science
instead of helping it to progress.

Ian Giblin ( wrote: "rotational bursting of pre-fractured
impact ejecta from a body can yield stable orbits." In the case under
discussion, reaching a stable orbit around the Earth from an impact on
Earth's surface, the first problem would be preventing the fractured impact
ejecta from rotationally bursting long enough for it to get back above the
atmosphere. The burst must occur above the atmosphere to produce an orbit
with a perigee also above the atmosphere. If the object has enough spin to
burst, one would expect it to do that immediately rather than after the
30-90 seconds it takes to get to orbital altitudes. Surely nothing speeds up
this spin or increases the likelihood of a rotational burst during the
thousands of rotations the body must make on the way up. Indeed, the speed
should diminish because of atmospheric friction.

The second problem is that no asteroidal, cometary, or meteoroidal body
ejected from an impact can be given a speed exceeding about 3 km/s without
vaporizing it from the shock wave, as we explained in our earlier letter to
Mark Boslough. But the minimum speed to achieve a circular orbit around the
Earth is 7 km/s. So even if the impact occurred on Earth's equator and the
body was ejected at 3 km/s on top of Earth's 0.5 km/s spin speed, one must
still have a fragment rotational spin speed of at least 3.5 km/s to reach
the 7 km/s orbital speed. But such a high spin speed again exceeds what can
be imparted by an impact shock wave without causing vaporization. Moreover,
for a one-meter body asteroidal body, which would weigh about a ton, that
spin speed implies 1100 spins per second (or more for a smaller fragment),
which would obviously exceed the material strength of an asteroidal
pre-fractured body to remain in one piece long enough to get into space.

S. Fred Singer, Ph.D.
President, The Science & Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)
1600 S. Eads St.,   Suite 712-S
Arlington, VA 22202-2907


Tom Van Flandern, Ph.D.
Lead Astronomer, Meta Research
6327 Western Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20015-2456


>From Mark Boslough <>


A preprint in pdf format is now available by anonymous ftp:

With regard to the proposed debate, I think we are going to have to agree to
disagree. The physics associated with impact-produced ring systems has been
addressed elsewhere over the past dozen years or so (it is NOT a simple
2-body celestial mechanics problem as suggested by the critics). As you will
see, the present paper is about the *consequences* of such a ring, not
about how to make one. The critics also seem to have some fundamental
misconceptions regarding the physics of hypervelocity impact and shock waves
in solids. Peter Fawcett and I found no reason to discuss these issues in
our ring climatology paper; they have been addressed extensively elsewhere
in the published scientific literature. I don't see what is to be gained by
rehashing the fundamentals here.

Best regards to all,

Mark Boslough


>From Hermann Burchard <>

Dear Benny,

as to E.P. Grondine's "extracts from Burchard..'s recent comments.. along
with a few choice comments of my own", I am glad to see the story on
historical records set forth by him expertly (I believe I had read before
about many of the impact events on E.P.'s list but forgot).  Although E.P.
does write "is not true" in regard to what I had written to CCNet June 26 at
a staggering count of four (4, sic!) times, he also adds "I greatly enjoy
Burchard's contributions to the Conference on geological processes," which
more than makes up for it. Are his comments, however, not directed more at
"Clive Cookson's Financial Times piece" than at me or shouldn't
they be?

Actually, when I wrote "there must have been MANY fatal cosmic impacts
during RECORDED DURING HISTORY, but they failed to make it into the OFFICIAL
HISTORICAL RECORDS" [emphasis added], I was not thinking of archeological or
inferential evidence so much, but of WRITTEN RECORDS by contemporaries, as
if we read in the morning paper "(AP) 8:37 pm ET yesterday, a 50 m
asteroid fell near the city of.. in ..-nation and destroyed .. square km in
..nearby counties.  Fatalities were estimated at ..thousand." Here is the
point (which I forgot to mention 26 June):  IF YOU SEE AN ASTEROID IMPACT
YOU'RE DEAD. There will be rare exceptions, hence few contemporary

But, I do agree, as in many cases mentioned by Grondine, we must rely on the
Kuliks of this world and on archeological expeditions investigating the site
years later, because we do want to know when and where impacts have
happened, more than whether anybody noticed at the time and lived to
tell about it.  Many more unambiguous archeological sites would be great.
There is a site in England where tree trunks were found in an excavation
laid out Tunguska-style all pointing in the same direction (reported by

One item on E.P.'s list, DESTRUCTION OF "TWO ISLANDS IN THE SEA, Gregory of
Tours (580, 585 CE, contributed by Phil "Pib" Burns, CCNet, 15 Aug 1997) is
particularly instructive as to written (!) historical evidence. There were
no survivors on the islands (if Gregory had given us the names, we could go
and do an archeological study). Gregory saw much secondary devastation and
loud noises (transmitted at least over 50 miles, probably further).
"Villages around Bordeaux were burned by a fire sent from heaven." This is
most likely from later visits to the site, with no survivors likely at the
site. He also saw the islands burning over the horizon:  "..during the night
saw portents in the sky". And "..two islands in the sea were consumed by
fire which fell from the sky.  They burned for seven whole days,.. Many
maintained that all the portents which I have said earlier,.. when the sky
seemed to be on fire, were really the reflection of this conflagration."
Gregory or anybody else never came close to the burning islands, however,
the details given about how people died there seem to contradict his own
statement of complete destruction.

Stones the size of a dove's egg are interesting but don't count. Tidal
disruption of impactors, especially comets, only serves to muddle the issue,
as stones in one place may merely be corollaries of an asteroid (with no
surviving witnesses) at some other place farther off.

All-in-all, I am happy to agree that quite a few items on E.P.'s list DO
indeed qualify as HISTORICAL RECORDS of asteroid impacts with fatalities,
despite E.P.'s admission that "most, but not all, of the impact events
listed here await detailed confirmation."  Now the Fin. Times editors
unfortunately HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO PRINT A CORRECTION to their article.

After sending my June 26 note off to you as the CCNet moderator, I did find
the impact account from Revelation mentioned in Mike Baillie's book (my
apologies to him). This was important to me as proof that an asteroid
actually must have been seen falling into the sea, from land no doubt,
possibly hundreds of km beyond the horizon, and the fantastic tale had been
retold. With the resolving power of a human eye at .0003 (I believe) a 300 m
asteroid at 300 km distance should still be visible in limited detail.



>From Linda Sloan <>

Dr. Peiser

The Planetary Society started a project 2 years ago to rennovate and upgrade
an aging 1.3 meter telescope at Arizona's Kitt Peak Observatory. Included in
the upgrade is a CCD imager, computer-controlled robotics and  data analysis
software. The focus on the work of this "robotically
controlled telescope" will be the discovery of both extrasolar planets and
Near-Earth asteroids. The funding to complete the project is currently being
sought with completion estimated within a year. For more information you can
email the Society at or go to the web site at

This is not an official Planetary Society press release. This is information
I thought the CCNet list might find useful.

Linda Kenny Sloan
Technical indexer
Information Universe
Indexing print and online publications
in the space sciences and technology fields.

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 forany other purposes
without prior permission of the copyright holders. The fully indexed archive
of the CCNet, from February 1997 on, can be found at DISCLAIMER: The opinions,
beliefs and viewpoints expressed in the articles and texts and in other
CCNet contributions do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and
viewpoints of the moderator of this network.



ProSpace, in conjunction with Space Frontier Foundation, is pleased to
announce the ninth in our series of Space Roundtables at the United
States Senate. Titled "The Asteroid Threat: Identification and
Mitigation Strategies", this program will explore a range of ideas and
information regarding the asteroids and other objects that cross the
earth's orbit, what we are doing to find and track them and what we
could be doing to protect the earth from a devastating impact.

The program will be held on Wednesday, July 10th at 1:00pm in room 192
of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. To attend, please RSVP to: Include your name, affiliation and telephone

You may be aware of the several close passes we have seen this year by
large asteroids. The last such object, classified "2002MN", passed
within 75,000 miles of the earth at a speed of 23,000 miles per hours
just over one week ago.

This object was approximately 70-100 meters in diameter, making it
similar in size to an object that hit the Tunguska region of Siberia in
1908. That impact resulted in a blast equivalent to 10-15 megatons,
leaving an area of devastation that would cover two-thirds of Rhode

While the idea of such an occurrence has been the stuff of science
fiction, events such as Tunguska and our recent close calls dictate we
take a hard look at the science facts. The experts we are gathering for
our event will present detailed information on search efforts, warning
systems, possible diversion scenarios and the overall probabilities that
we will experience such an event.

Our panelists for the program include:

Brig. Gen. Simon P. Worden, USAF
US Space Command

Dr. Colleen Hartman

Dr. Thomas Morgan

Dr. Brian Marsden
Minor Planet Center
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Evan Seamone
University of Iowa College of Law

Dr. Lee Valentine
Space Studies Institute

Rick Tumlinson

Rich Godwin
The Watch

You are cordially invited to attend the program, as well as the buffet
lunch that will precede it. Simply RSVP via email at: When RSVP'ing, please provide your name,
affiliation and your phone number.

See you at the Roundtable!

Marc Schlather
Executive Director
The Space Roundtable

Theme Near Earth Asteroid Threat Date Wednesday, July 10, 2002 Location
Room 192 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, DC, US Web Address Contact

CCCMENU CCC for 2002