Date sent: Fri, 24 Oct 1997 15:31:44 -0400 (EDT)
From: HUMBPEIS <B.J.PEISER@livjm.ac.uk
Subject: CC DIGEST 24 October 1997
CAMBRIDGE-CONFERENCE DIGEST 24 October 1997
1) IS THE EARTH REALLY GETTING HOTTER?
2) EXPLORING MARS FOR EVIDENCE OF PAST OR PRESENT LIFE
3) LES SENTINELS DE L'ESPACE
IS THE EARTH REALLY GETTING HOTTER?
from: The Times, 24 October 1997, p.21 (letter to the editor)
Dr David Carson's response (letter, October 20) to Nigel
question, "Is the Earth really getting hotter?" will have served a
useful purpose if it helps to bring out into the open the fierce
debate which is going on between the global warming theorists and
the sceptics. Readers of the NEW SCIENTIST (article, "Greenhouse
Wars - why the rebels have a cause", July 19) will have been left
in no doubt that passions run high, and that there are
heavyweights on both sides. Scientific consensus there is not.
The rise in temperature of about 0.6C over the last century is
debatable because ground stations were being absorbed by
urbanisation over the period: cities are warmer than the
countryside. However, whatever warming did occur took place in the
first half of that period, whereas 70 per cent of the increase in
carbon dioxide emissions occurred in the secon half. Nigel Hawkes
righly makes the point that the satellite record has been
confirmed by the ballon record, and confirms that very little
warming, if any, has occurred since 1945.
The most credible explanation for climatic variability is the
impact of solar flares on the earth's atmosphere, as put forward
by researchers at the Danish Meteorological Institute. The
politicisation of this issue is fascinating and will be on full
display at the Kyoto summit in December. Perhaps we should ask Dr
Carson and the other believers to state what observed facts
w o u l d disprove the theory, which at the moment is showing all
the signs of a scientific hypothesis in terminal decline.
Michael Hird, 4 Copperfield, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire
2) EXPLORING MARS FOR EVIDENCE OF PAST OR PRESENT LIFE
from: Ron Baalke <BAALKE@kelvin.jpl.nasa.gov
NASA Ames Research Center Oct. 17, 1997
Moffett Field, CA
EXPLORING MARS FOR EVIDENCE OF PAST OR PRESENT LIFE
Alternative exploration strategies designed to detect evidence
past or present life on Mars are the subject of a presentation to be
given by NASA's Dr. Jack Farmer at the Geological Society of America
(GSA) Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Oct. 20, 1997..
Farmer, an exobiologist and paleontologist at NASA's Ames
Center, Moffett Field, CA, asks the question, "if there was there
life on Mars, where would it be found?" The crucial first step in
implementing an exploration strategy is identifying the best places
to look, he states.
"A close synergy between orbital and landed science will
for effective site selection to explore for past life," Farmer said.
In exploring for a Martian fossil record, present scenarios
that rover missions in 2001 and 2003 will gather and cache samples
for possible return-to-Earth mission in 2005. A critical step is to
locate accessible surface outcrops of water-formed sedimentary
deposits on Mars. The effectiveness of a sample return mission in
addressing the question of past Martian life will be significantly
1) obtaining high spatial resolution data from important sites
the 2001 orbital mission,
2) delivering highly mobile robotic platforms to
sites in 2001 and 2003, e.g. rovers that are capable of multiple
kilometer traverses during nominal mission times, and
3) carrying out in-situ mineralogical and geochemical analyses
variety of rock types as a basis for selecting samples for return to
Potentially important targets include fine-grained, clay-rich
detrital sediments, water-lain volcanic ash deposits, and chemical
precipitates-lithologies that on Earth have been shown to be
especially favorable for preserving fossil biosignatures of microbial
According to Farmer, exploring for Martian life will require a
fundamentally different approach than exploring for a fossil record.
A deep subsurface hydrosphere, touted as the most likely haven for an
extant biota on Mars may yet exist beneath the Martian cryosphere at
a depth of several kilometers. However, during the Mars Global
Surveyor (MGS) Program, robotic platforms will be unable to penetrate
deeper than a few meters.
Farmer believes that the technological challenge of deep
drilling presently provides the most compelling scientific reason for
mounting human missions to Mars. But as a first step in planning
drilling missions, systematic orbital searches using high spatial
resolution multispectral imaging should be undertaken sometime during
the MGS Program (perhaps in 2003) to identify spatially-restricted
thermal anomalies, and concentrations of water, methane or other
reduced gases that may indicate the presence of near surface
LES SENTINELS DE L'ESPACE
from: Neil Forsyth <Neil.Forsyth@ANGL.unil.ch
I now have more information concerning the French television
programme shown on the local Swiss channel that I mentioned in an
It was called "Les sentinels de l'espace" and was
astronomers who search the skies for NEO's. They were French, working
at an observatory near Nice. Another interview was with a scientist
in Lyon. The programme was also about the major past impacts, and the
likelihood of another, next year or in a million years. A good
general introduction to the subject, I thought, but not for an expert
audience, of course. It lasted half-an hour or so.
The programme is distributed by Galaxy Press, 48 rue du
F-75010 Paris. Fax: +33 1 44 83 07 27.
University of Lausanne
+41 21 692 29 88
CCCMENU CCC for 1997