CCNet, 080/2000 - 18 August 2000

     "Since it began orbiting the asteroid Eros on February 14, NASA's
     NEAR-Shoemaker has beamed back a steady stream of data, videos and
     photos that have shaken up solar system science. The data could
     someday be used to help save the Earth from an cataclysmic
     asteroid impact."
        -- Richard Stenger, 16 August 2000

    Ron Baalke <>

    Steve Koppes <>

(3) WHILE YOU WERE OUT .......
    Michael Paine <>
    The Daily Telegraph, 15 August 2000


From Ron Baalke <>

Asteroid orbiter marks halfway point in historic flight
By Richard Stenger
August 16, 2000

Since it began orbiting the asteroid Eros on February 14, NASA's
NEAR-Shoemaker has beamed back a steady stream of data, videos and
photos that have shaken up solar system science. The data could someday
be used to help save the Earth from an cataclysmic asteroid impact.

Among the mission's scientific discoveries, two in particular stand
out, said NEAR scientist Andy Cheng.

"The first is that the surface shows evidence of continuing geologic
activity, not just cratering. The second is that Eros is a primitive
body and not a differentiated one."

Full story here:

From Steve Koppes <>

Aug. 15, 2000
For immediate release

Steve Koppes
(773) 702-8366

Nancy O'Shea
(312) 665-7105

Meteoritical Society to meet in Chicago Aug. 28-Sept. 1
Gathering sponsored by University of Chicago and Field Museum

Interplanetary space probes, interstellar dust grains, meteorites from
the moon and Mars, meteorite impact craters on Earth and
four-and-a-half-billion-year-old water samples are among the topics
that scientists will discuss at the 63rd Annual Meteoritical Society
Meeting in Chicago from Aug. 28 to Sept. 1.

The gathering could be the largest in the history of the society, which
was founded in August 1933 at the Field Museum in Chicago. Organizers
expect as many as 350 scientists from around the world to attend the
meeting, which will convene at the Hotel Inter-Continental, 505 N.
Michigan Ave.

"Because the society actually was founded in Chicago, we thought it
would be appropriate to bring it back to Chicago during the millennial
year," said meeting co-chair Meenakshi Wadhwa, curator of meteorites at
the Field Museum and a research scientist/lecturer at the University of

The society's founding president, the late Frederick Leonard, was a
1918 University of Chicago graduate who grew up in a row house near
51st Street in Chicago's Kenwood neighborhood. "He used to set up his
telescope in the backyard and look at the heavens," said meeting
co-chair Andrew Davis, a research scientist at the University of
Chicago's Geophysical Sciences Department. Roy Clarke Jr., research
chemist and curator emeritus of meteorites at the Smithsonian
Institution will present a talk on Leonard titled, "Before He Knew

Highlighting this year's meeting are special sessions on current
planetary missions and future sample-returns, and on interstellar dust
grains that were formed before the birth of the solar system 4.5 billion
years ago.

The special session on current missions and future sample returns will
include talks regarding two missions that have recently made
significant discoveries: the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous Shoemaker
mission and Mars Global Surveyor.

"In the past, the Meteoritical Society has focused mainly on laboratory
studies of meteorites," Wadhwa said. "However, in recent years, society
members have become more interested and involved in spacecraft
missions, particularly those that are sending back images and data from
places in our solar system where meteorites may have originated."

NEAR Shoemaker began orbiting asteroid 433 Eros on Feb. 14-at times as
close as 12 miles- and is providing scientists with their closest look
ever of an asteroid. In May, using its X-ray/gamma-ray spectrometer,
NEAR Shoemaker tentatively matched the chemical composition of Eros to
chondritic meteorites, the most primitive rocks in the solar system.

The finding begins to resolve a long-standing mystery in meteoritics.
The characteristics of chondrites, the most common type of meteorite
found on Earth, previously did not seem to match the most common
type of asteroid.

Speaking first about the best images and infrared data obtained by NEAR
Shoemaker will be Cornell University astronomer Joe Veverka. Then
astrophysicist Jacob Trombka of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center will
present additional mission data regarding the asteroid's chemical

Following Trombka will be Michael Carr of the U.S. Geological Survey in
Menlo Park, Calif., who will talk about "Mars at a Scale of One Meter:
Water, Wind and Ice." Some scientists have interpreted recent images
from Mars Global Surveyor as evidence for the relatively recent
existence of water on Mars. Carr and others have proposed alternative
explanations for the intriguing images.

Presentations also will cover five future missions: The Stardust comet
sample-return mission; the Genesis solar wind sample-return mission;
the CONTOUR mission that will visit three comets; the MESSENGER mission
to Mercury; and the MUSES-C asteroid sample-return mission. Stardust,
launched in 1999, is scheduled to return comet samples in January 2006.
The other missions have yet to be launched.

The special session on interstellar dust grains will focus on grains
that were thrown out of stars billions of years ago, before the sun's
birth, then got mixed into clouds and interstellar dust that
collapsed to form the solar system.

"We know from studying these grains that they come from different kinds
of stars," Davis said. The grains come from red giants, stars once like
the sun that at the end of their lifetimes grow huge, drop in
temperature and shed much of their mass; from supernovae, stars that
end their lives in a huge explosion; and from novae, stars that undergo
a series of less violent explosions.

Research on such grains, which have been transported to Earth via
meteorites, reveals new details about how stars evolved billions of
years ago to produce the elements that formed Earth and all other
objects in the solar system.

Michael Pellin of Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois will be among
this session's speakers. Pellin and his collaborators at the University
of Chicago's Enrico Fermi Institute have been precisely measuring the
isotopic compositions of heavy elements found in meteoritic dust
grains. Isotopes are different varieties of an element, such as
silicon, that differ only in the number of neutrons in their nuclei.
Argonne is the only laboratory in the world that can perform these
measurements using a technique called resonant ionization mass

"It took a long time to get to this stage. Now we're in a position to
really probe the insides of stars," said Davis, a member of the

Martian meteorites will figure prominently at the Chicago meeting. A
new Martian meteorite found near Los Angeles late last year will be the
topic of six papers. "It's clearly different from the others," Davis
said. "It's most likely the sort of thing to come out of a volcano on

Three additional papers will continue the scientific debate over the
Antarctic meteorite that allegedly contains evidence for microscopic
life on Mars.

A report on a new lunar meteorite will be among the papers presented
during a session devoted to asteroids and the moon. Tim Fagan of the
University of Hawaii at Manoa and his co-authors, including the
University of Chicago's Robert Clayton, will describe a meteorite found
in northwest Africa in October 1999. The meteorite resembles rocks of
volcanic origin collected during the Apollo 12 and 15 missions.

Another session will include talks about a newly confirmed impact
crater in Botswana, Africa. The crater measures more than two miles in
diameter and was created approximately 180 million years ago. Other
presentations will cover new findings from Arizona's Meteor Crater and
from the meteorite impact on Mexico's Atlantic coast that scientists
have linked to the dinosaur extinction.

One of the final sessions will include two presentations regarding rare
findings of tiny water samples in meteorites. "This is four-and-a
half-billion-year-old water," Davis said.

For more information about the meeting, including program and
abstracts, see For a
high-resolution image pertaining to interstellar grain research, see

(3) WHILE YOU WERE OUT .......

Michael Paine <>

Dear Benny,

Here are some NEO-related news stories that were posted over the past
few weeks.

The dates are when I posted them on my news page:

Michael Paine

16 Aug 2000 UniSci: Little Old Telescope Discovers Distant Asteroids

16 Aug 2000 NEAT: New Earth-crossing asteroid discovered - 2000 PN8  is
a new Apollo Earth-crossing asteroid discovered with NEAT on 5 August
2000 ... it has an Earth-like orbit and is only about 170 m in diameter
(C. Hergenrother, MPC). It is not considered hazardous. Could be
interesting for space mining!

16 Aug 2000 Nature: When it's cool to be cool - Global Cooling
Accelerated By Early Late Eocene Impacts 35 million years ago?

16 Aug 2000 SpaceDaily: China Builds New Observatory To Detect
Near-Earth Asteroids. (I am currently
researching this item for a story - please contact me if you have more

15 Aug 2000 UniSci: Probing Ice Dwarf Worlds At Solar System's Edge.

11 Aug 2000 Science: Tektites and the Age Paradox in Mid-Pleistocene
China (dynamic URL - try searching for 'bose')
See also a draft article on this subject.

11 Aug 2000 SpaceDaily: Students On Watch Find Space Centaurs.

11 Aug 2000 Nature: Evaporation in the young solar nebula as the origin
of just-right' melting of chondrules Nature 10 August 2000 (reg'd

11 Aug 2000 Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks This Weekend and
Meteor Showers. In the year 2126, the Perseids' parent comet,
Swift-Tuttle, is predicted to return. On this pass  of its orbit, it is
expected to come very close to Earth. Because comet orbits cannot be
predicted exactly, there is a small but significant danger that 126
years from now, Comet Swift-Tuttle will hit the Earth directly (Wil
Also Shooting Stars: A Primer (Michael Paine)

10 Aug 2000 New Scientist: Taking a chance - Nick Pidgeon wonders why
people are so bad at weighing up risks... But the most crucial factor
that dictates how people judge risk is trust. Many experts claim that a
mistrust of expertise and risk management is now a defining feature of
industrialised societies. Some lessons for Spaceguard?

10 Aug 2000 Comet LINEAR's Remains Caught by Four Telescopes.

9 Aug 2000 NASA: Bigfoot on Eros (or a giant paw print)?

8 Aug 2000 Killer Asteroid Hunt Reaches a Milestone. (Michael
(POsted on CCNet on 15 Aug)


7 Aug 2000 Project Hera: Triple-header Asteroid Probe -
proposed          Discovery mission.


6 Aug 2000 Discover: The Panther Mountain (impact) Crater - in New York

5 Aug 2000 Comet's Fragility Shocks Scientists. (Michael
Paine - sorry about the headline!)

4 Aug 2000 SpaceDaily: When Do Asteroids And Comets Become One And The

4 Aug 2000 Chicago Sun Times: Last missing asteroid, Albert, is spotted
again. Lost in    1911!

4 Aug 2000 Hopping Rover: Bound for New Asteroid in 2002. -
Australia is the likely target for the sample recovery mission.
Also NASA: MUSES-C now to be sent to  asteroid 1998 SF 36.

1 Aug 2000 NASA: Comet LINEAR continues to disintegrate and could
disappear completely within a few days.

28 Jul 2000 SpaceDaily: Down-to-Earth Engineering Makes Highly Sensitive
Star Wars Telescope Possible.

28 Jul 2000 NASA: Hubble Sees Comet Linear Blow its Top.
NASA Science News.

27 Jul 2000 Report: Gold Meteorites Bombarded Young Planet
Earth. "According to these results, the gold in your jewelry can be
viewed as a relative latecomer to our planet,"

26 Jul 2000 Rock That Damaged Car Was Meteorite.
I have been discussing with John Lewis from Uni of Arizona, the
possibility of creating an online list of meteorite incidents such as
this. The idea is to have a web page based on the (long) list in John's
book 'Comet and Asteroid Impact Hazards on a Populated Earth' and invite
submission of additional reports. They would be reviewed and, if
credible, would be added to the list. Comments on the idea (and offers
of support!) are welcome.

25 Jul 2000 ABC: Evidence of a Mass Extinction - claims the Permian
extinction was sudden - there are two key theories for what likely
caused the extinction. One is that an asteroid or comet hit Earth. The
other, more likely (!) possibility is that gigantic volcanic eruptions
in Siberia..


From The Daily Telegraph, 15 August 2000

Rethink by global warming expert
By Mary Sheridan and Roger Highfield

THE scientist who alerted the world to the consequences of the
greenhouse effect admits today that carbon dioxide from burning fossil
fuels was not the main cause of rapid warming of the Earth in recent

Dr James Hansen is also more optimistic that global warming can be
prevented "without any economically wrenching actions" because of the
growing realisation that too much emphasis has been placed on the
effects of burning fossil fuels.

Dr Hansen, of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York,
told a congressional committee in 1988: "It is time to stop waffling .
. . the greenhouse effect is here."

Today, he argues that warming over the past century was not mostly
driven by carbon dioxide, from burning fossil fuels, but by other
gases, such as methane and chlorofluorocarbons, so it should be "more
practical to slow global warming than is sometimes assumed".

The growth rate of these non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases has
"declined in the past decade". When combined with measures aimed at
curbing carbon dioxide and soot, this "could lead to a decline in the
rate of global warming, reducing the danger of drastic climate change".

He says in a report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:
"We suggest that a strategy to slow global warming focus on reducing
air pollution, especially tropospheric [ground level] ozone, methane
and black carbon particles.

"Human health and ecological costs of these pollutants are counted in
billions of dollars in the United States, and impacts are reaching
devastating levels in the developing world. A strategy focused on
reducing these pollutants, which are not essential to energy
production, should unite interests of developed and developing

The report adds: "In the long run, fossil fuels will be the issue," so
greater energy efficiency and more reliance on renewables will be

Copyright 2000, Daily Telegraph

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