CCNet DIGEST, 4 November 1998

    Kelly Beatty <>

    Michael Paine <>

    Sir Arthur C Clarke

    Sir Arthur C Clarke
    Jonathan Shanklin <>

    BBC News Online

    Larry Heimann


From Kelly Beatty <>


With the Leonid shower just two weeks away, many CCN'ers will likely
be asked for interviews by various reporters. Since news outlets
invariably crave (demand?) visuals, you might direct them to the
meteor section of SKY & TELESCOPE's Web site
( Aside from numerous
articles and "how-to" tutorials, we have available for distribution
some dramatic still images from the 1966 storm, artistic
renederings, nice video footage of the 1997 Perseids and Geminids,
and a broadcast-quality, 1-minute animation of why the Leonids
"happen" by artist Don Davis. Anyone wanting these for reproduction
or broadcast can contact Irene Szewczuk (,
617-864-7360 x127) or me (, x148). Our fax is

Kelly Beatty
Senior Editor


From Michael Paine <>

Dear Benny,

Time for me to eat humble pie (or science is supposed to be

I have reviewed the estimates of the risk of relatively small
tsunami from "small" NEOs (50m to 100m) based on several excellent
papers from the Planetary Defense Workshop It is evident that the tsunami run-up
factor (inundation height divided by deepwater height) that I used
is exceptionally high and it would be better to use a more
conservative value. This factor affects the radius at which a 10m
tsunami (my criterion for a serious threat to low-lying coastal
areas) can be expected from a given impact. The risk of impact
depends on the target area which of course depends on the square of
the radius so determining the appropriate run-up value is crucial to
assessing the risk. My estimate of risk over a 50 year period has
reduced from 1 in 50 to 1 in 260. On the other hand this was for a
50m diameter NEO. Adding in the risks for 100m NEOs and larger
raises the overall risk to about 1 in 100. Details are on the revised
web page
Thanks to the subscribers who gave me feedback on this issue. I have
also carried out some ballpark estimates of the size of tsunami
generated by the airburst explosions of "small" stony NEOs

Michael Paine
New South Wales Co-ordinator
The Planetary Society Australian Volunteer Co-ordinators


From Sir Arthur C Clarke

Dear Benny,

FYI - see item 5! (amongst others...)

All best,   Arthur Clarke   4 Nov 98

From: Bob Cassaanova

Subject: NIAC Awards

Hi Arthur:

We have announced the first grant awards from the NASA Institute for
Advanced Concepts and I thought you might be interested in seeing
the abstracts. I think you will recongnize some  of the names of the
investigators. Robert Forward will be working with Robert Hoyt on

Thanks again for the video which we used in our workshop last May.

Best wishes,

Bob Cassaanova
NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts 


1. Ilan Kroo, Stanford University
   "Mesicopter:  A Meso-Scale Flight Vehicle"

A team of researchers from Stanford University, SRI, and M-DOT
corporation propose to build the 'mesicopter', a centimeter-size
electric helicopter designed to stay airborne while carrying its own
power supply.  This device represents a revolutionary class of
flight vehicles at an unprecedented size and suggests a range of
potential uses. The proposed work focuses on the development of
mesicopters for atmospheric science, permitting in-situ measurements
of meteorological phenomena such as downbursts and wind shear, and
with unique capabilities for planetary atmosphere studies.  Swarms
of mesicopters could provide atmospheric scientists with information
not obtainable using current techniques and could aid in the
understanding of phenomena that play a critical role in aviation
safety.  Better characterization of atmospheric phenomena on Mars
and other simple sensing tasks may be feasible, with these very low
mass and low cost aerial micro-robots. The mesicopter will pioneer
the application of new aerodynamic design concepts and novel
fabrication techniques including solid freeform fabrication and VLSI
processing steps.  These techniques may ultimately allow the
mesicopter to be scaled down to millimeter dimensions. Significant
challenges are anticipated in the areas of materials, battery
technology, aerodynamics, control, and testing. This proposal
describes work for the first phase of the program in which initial
designs and fabrication tests are used to evaluate the concept's
feasibility.  An outline of subsequent phases is also provided.

2. Ron Jacobs, Intelligent Inference Systems Corporation
   "A Biologically Inspired Robot for Space Operations"

There is a strong need for legged systems that can travel and
operate in difficult terrains, where existing wheeled vehicles
cannot go. This is especially true for future missions to, for
example, MARS where the planet surface is rugged and uneven.  In the
near future, we foresee that revolutionary legged robots will be
used as part of a community of multi intelligent agents on MARS. 
Each individual legged robot will be able to execute tasks that are
requested by lower and higher levels in the community.  In designing
such a revolutionary MARS Walker, we have used our extensive
experience in a variety of different disciplines, such as
computational intelligence, soft computing, robotics, biomechanics
and neural control of human movements. Our experience is integrated
towards a unique and new biologically-inspired approach in
developing these legged robots.  Smart artificial muscle-like
actuators (currently under development at IIS Corp.) will drive the
movements. We anticipate outfitting the MARS Walker with the
abilities that are necessary for its role as a future intelligent
agent in space. The MARS Walker will be able to adapt to different
walking speeds and terrains with various degrees of ruggedness.

3. Steven D. Howe, Synergistic Technologies, Inc.
   "Enabling Exploration of Deep Space:  High Density Storage of

Space is big.  Over the next few decades, humanity will strive to
send probes farther and farther into space to establish long
baselines for interferometry, to visit the Kuiper Belt, to identify
the heliopause, or to map the Oort cloud. In order to solve many of
the mysteries of the universe or to explore the solar system and
beyond, one single technology must be developed - high performance
propulsion. In essence, future missions to deep space will require
specific impulses between 50,000 and 200,000 seconds in order to
accomplish the mission within the career lifetime of an individual,
40 years.  Only two technologies available to mankind offer such
performance --fusion and antimatter. Fusion has proven unattainable
despite forty years of research and billions of dollars. Antimatter,
alternatively, reacts 100% of the time in a well described manner. 
Antimatter is produced currently in the world at levels above the
storage capacity of state-of-the-art Penning Traps. The single key
technology that is required to enable the revolutionary concept of
antimatter propulsion is safe, reliable, high-density storage. 
Development of a system capable of storing megajoules per gram will
allow highly instrumented platforms to make fast missions to great
distances. Such a development will open the universe to humanity. 
We propose to develop such a system.

4. Mark E. Campbell, University of Washington
   "Intelligent Satellite Teams for Space Systems"

The proposed study will examine the far reaching plan of developing
Intelligent Satellite Teams (IST's) for complex space missions. An
IST is an organized system of many nano/picosatellites enabled by
(envisioned) revolutionary advances in microtechnology and
intelligent control. Candidate missions for IST's include
construction or servicing of space facilities such as space
laboratories or telescopes, and measurement of an asteroid's
gravitational field, followed by reconfiguration of the IST for
communication back to Earth. IST development is a synergy of many
technologies, including mission analysis, intelligent control, and
microtechnology.  Currently, strides are being made in each of these
areas such that a visionary, system-level study of IST's and
potential applications can be accomplished.  The proposed study is
clearly in line NIAC's goals of fostering revolutionary ideas in
systems and architectures that potentially have a major impact on
how future NASA missions are accomplished.

5. Robert E. Gold, The Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics
   "SHIELD:  A Comprehensive Earth Protection System"

Although the probability of a small body impact with Earth is low,
the greatest natural threat to the long-term survivability of
civilization is an asteroid or comet impact.  To date, the existence
and orbits of a only few hundred near-Earth asteroids and comets are
known, many more are yet to be discovered. In addition, limited
resources are dedicated to expanding this catalog.  To protect the
Earth against a collision, the asteroid must be discovered and then
deflected, or fragmented into pieces that will miss the Earth or
vaporize in Earth's atmosphere. The problem involves both detection
and elimination.  Many studies have examined particular portions of
the problem of detecting and protecting the Earth from approaching
comets and asteroids. However, there has been very little
examination of the complete Earth-protection problem. This proposal
will study the architecture of SHIELD, a comprehensive
Earth-protection system, with special emphasis on a non-nuclear
method of small-body deflection.  This proposal will show that a
non-nuclear system for smaller threats can almost be built today and
with projected advancements in technology a complete system for the
important range of impactor sizes will be practical in a 40 year

6. Neville J. Woolf, Steward Observatory, University of Arizona
   "Very Large Optics for the Study of Extrasolar Terrestrial

To evaluate habitability and to search for primitive life on
Earth-like planets of other stars, telescopes in space with
collecting areas of 10 m 2 to 1,000,000 m 2 are needed.  We propose
to study revolutionary solutions for reflecting telescopes in this
size range, going beyond technologies we are developing for adaptive
secondary mirrors and for ultralightweight panels for the NGST. 
Ways will be explored to build very large lightweight mirrors and to
correct their surface errors. As a specific example, we will study a
100 m reflector with a concave NGST-size secondary relay that images
the primary onto an 5-m deformable tertiary.  The primary,
free-flying 2 km from the secondary, would be assembled from 5-m
flat segments made as reflecting membranes stretched across
triangular frames.  A 1/20 scale (5 m) image of the primary is
formed on the deformable mirror, itself segmented, where panel
deformation would be corrected.  Scalloping of the segments would
compensate the missing curvature of primary segments.  A second
example for study will be a 30 m telescope made up from accurately
figured 4 m segments. This would represent the limit of emerging
technology being developed for NGST. The panel density would be 5
kg/m 2, light enough to launch in a single vehicle all the rigid, 10
cm thick panels needed for the 30-m aperture. The six-month proposal
is for analysis and evaluation of different mirror technologies in
the broad context of studying exo-planets in the space environment. 
The 2-year continuing study would follow up on the one or two most
promising technologies.

7. Paul Gorenstein, Smithsonian Institute, Astrophysical
   "An Ultra-High Throughput X-Ray Astronomy Observatory with a New
   Mission Architecture"

We propose a study of a new mission architecture for an ultra high
throughput X-ray astronomy observatory containing a 10 m aperture
telescope and a set of detectors.  It has potentially much better
ratios of effective area to weight and cost than current approaches
for the 1 m class AXAF and XMM and "next generation" 3 m class
observatories. Instead of a single spacecraft that contains the
telescope, the optical bench and a fixed, limited set of detectors,
in the new architecture the telescope and an unlimited number of
detectors are all on separate spacecrafts. Their trajectories are in
the same vicinity either in high Earth orbit or the L2 point. 
Usually only one of the detectors is active. The active detector
places and maintains itself at the telescope's focus by station
keeping.  Its distance and aspect sensors provide signals that drive
electric propulsion engines on the detector spacecraft which
regulate its distance from the telescope to be precisely equal to
the focal length.  Unlike current systems, detectors can be replaced
and new ones added by launching a small spacecraft that will
rendezvous with the others.  To reduce its mass the telescope has a
segmented architecture and the segments are actively aligned.  The 
study will identify the nature and magnitude of problems that need
to be solved in order to develop a 10 m class X-ray astronomy
observatory with these new architectures.  The study will involve
both analysis and laboratory measurements.  The mission architecture
is applicable to other observatories.

8. Clint Seward, Electron Power Systems, Inc.
   "Low-Cost Space Transportation Using Electron Spiral Toroid (EST)

A revolutionary method has been discovered to store large amounts of
energy as magnetic field energy with virtually no mass, using the
newly patented electron spiral toroid (EST).  On a BMDO contract in
February 1998, a Research Scientist at the MIT Plasma Science and
Fusion Center independently confirmed that some EST's will be stable
without the need of an external magnetic field; just a small
electric field. The EST has large total energy and low mass,
potentially resulting in revolutionary advances in space propulsion.
An EST is calculated to store 10 12 Joules of magnetic field energy
in a containment of 235 kg, replacing a Titan rocket's 700,000 kg of
fuel with 32 kg of thruster gas.  The potential is for a space
transportation vehicle with a cost of $100K vs. $89M for a Titan,
reducing the cost of all NASA missions.  The EST is a hollow toroid
of electrons, all spiraling in parallel paths in a thin outer
surface.  The EST is charge neutral, being surrounded by ions which
provide the small electric field.  This makes the EST force free.
The parallel paths are current loops, which create a very large
internal magnetic field. Microwave energy may be added to raise
electrons to 10,000 eV.  Propulsion would heat ions without
combustion through collisions with the EST surface, ejecting them
for thrust.  Specific impulse:  143,000 seconds vs. 500 for chemical
rockets.  The ions are contained by electric fields until ejected;
thus protecting mechanical parts.  The thrust can be shut off when
required.  Proof of concept tests have shown EST energy loss rates
to be small.  This project will develop a concept design of a low
cost EST based space propulsion system, and will continue the study
of the EST equilibrium and stability.

9. Clark W. Hawk, University of Alabama-Huntsville, Propulsion
   Research Center
   "Pulsed Plasma Power Generation"

This Phase I proposal will address the long-term development of a
pulsed power generator and integrated propulsion system based on the
compression of a magnetic field between an expanding detonation
driven plasma and a Meissner surface formed from a high temperature
superconductor (HTSC).  An expanding hot plasma ball driven by
chemical or micro-fusion detonations will be highly conductive and
will exclude the magnetic field from its interior.  When this
detonation is initiated in a solenoid magnet surrounded by a
cylindrical superconducting shell, the magnetic field will be swept
outwardly and compressed against the superconducting surface, which
repel the magnetic flux due to the Meissner effect.  The kinetic
energy of the plasma is stored in the magnetic field, and when the
plasma collapses, electrical power may be extracted from the time
varying magnetic flux using induction coils. In this concept, an
understanding of pulsed magnetic fields on bulk superconductive
materials will lead to higher compressed magnetic fields and
increased energy conversion efficiency. This proposed concept holds
promise for achieving very high power densities with long-term
potential for a highly integrated generator/propulsion device for
interplanetary spacecraft.

10. Robert P. Hoyt, Tethers Unlimited, Inc.
    "Cislunar Tether Transport System"

Systems composed of several rotating tethers in orbit can provide a
means of transporting payloads and personnel between Low-Earth-Orbit
and the lunar surface with little or no propellant required.  The
underlying concept is to build a reusable transport system that
utilizes rotating tethers to throw payloads to the moon and to catch
return payloads sent from the moon.  By balancing the flow of mass
to and from the moon, the total energy of the system can be
conserved, eliminating the need for the large quantities of
propellant required by rocket systems. Previous studies have shown
the potential of tether systems for making LEO to GEO and LEO to
Lunar travel affordable by greatly reducing the amount of propellant
that must be launched into orbit.  These studies, however, utilized
a number of simplifying assumptions that limit the credibility of
their designs.  The proposed effort will develop a design for a
Cislunar Tether Transport System that is both technically feasible
and economically viable by addressing three key aspects of the
system. First, the effort will develop a realistic scenario for
repeatedly transferring payloads from LEO to the lunar surface that
takes into account the full complexities of the orbital mechanics of
the Earth-Moon system, including non-spherical gravitational
potentials, inclined orbit dynamics, and luni-solar perturbations. 
Second, it will develop a design for the system that can be built
incrementally, with early stages earning revenue to pay for the
development of later stages by serving as boost facilities for MEO
and GEO traffic.  Third, the effort will develop a design for the
first stage of the system, a LEO "rotating electrodynamic force
tether" that combines the technology of electrodynamic tethers with
the principles of rotating momentum-transfer tethers to enable
multiple payloads to be boosted from LEO to higher orbits with no
propellant needed.

11. Ralph L. McNutt, Jr., The Johns Hopkins University, Applied
    Physics Laboratory
    "A Realistic Interstellar Explorer"

For more than 20 years, an "Interstellar Precursor Mission" has been
discussed in scientific circles as a high priority for our
understanding (1) the interstellar medium and its implications for
the origin and evolution of matter in the Galaxy, (2) the structure
of the heliosphere and its interaction with the interstellar
environment, and (3) fundamental astrophysical processes that can be
sampled in situ.  The chief difficulty with actually carrying out
such a mission is the need for reaching significant penetration into
the interstellar medium (~1000 AU) within the working lifetime of
the initiators (< 50 years). Significant solar-system escape speeds
can be obtained by "dropping" a probe into the Sun and then
executing a DV maneuver at perihelion.  This idea has been mentioned
but never studied in detail in a spacecraft-systems-and-
-implementation sense.  In particular, to fully realize the
potential of this scenario, the required DV maneuver of ~10 to 15
km/s in the thermal environment of ~3 R S remains challenging. Two
possible techniques for achieving high thrust levels near the Sun
are:  (1) using solar heating of gas propellant, and (2) using a
scaled-down Orion (nuclear external combustion) approach.  We
investigate architectures that, combined with miniaturized avionics
and miniaturized instruments, will enable such a mission to be
launched on a vehicle with characteristics not exceeding those of a
Delta III.  We will also explore architectures and redundancies that
will extend the probe lifetime to well over a century.  Such a
long-lived probe could be queried at random over decades of
otherwise hands-off operations. This systems approach for such an
Interstellar Explorer has not been previously used to address all of
these relevant engineering questions and will also lead to (1) a
probe concept that can be implemented following a successful Solar
Probe mission (concluding around 2010), and (2) system components
and approaches for impact on exploration and sample-return missions
from the outer planets and Kuiper objects in our own solar system. 
By assaying the near-interstellar medium, a better understanding of
the challenges of eventually crossing the interstellar gulf, e.g.,
with a Bussard ram jet, will also be realized.

12. Robert M. Winglee, University of Washington
    "The Mini-Magnetospheric Plasma Propulsion, M2P2"

The Mini-Magnetospheric Plasma Propulsion, M2P2 , system provides a
revolutionary means for spacecraft propulsion that can efficiently
utilize the energy from the space plasmas to accelerate payloads to
much higher speeds than can be attained by present chemical
(oxidizing propulsion systems.  The system utilizes an innovative
configuration of existing technology based on well established
principles of plasma physics.  It has the potential of feasibly
providing cheap, fast propulsion that could power Interstellar
Probe, as well as powering payloads that would be required for a
manned mission to Mars. As such the proposed work for missions out
of the solar system and between the planets. The project is
interdisciplinary involving space science, plasma engineering, and
aeronautics and space transportation, which are key components of
NIAC's program.  The M2P2 system utilizes low energy plasma to
transport or inflate a magnetic field beyond the typical scale
lengths that can be supported by a standard solenoid magnetic field
coil.  In space, the inflated magnetic field can be used to reflect
high speed (400 - 1000 km/s) solar wind particles and attain
unprecedented acceleration for a power input of only a few kW which
can be easily achieved by solar electric units.  Our initial
estimates for a minimum system can provide a typical thrust of about
3 Newton continuous (0.6 MW continuous power), with a specific
impulse of 104 to 105s) to produce an increase in speed of about 30
km/s in a period of 3 months.  Proposed optimization could allow the
development of system that increase the acceleration with less
expenditure of fuel so that a mission could leave the solar system
could become a reality.

13. Charles M. Stancil, Georgia Tech, Georgia Tech Research
    "Electric Toroid Rotor Technology Development"

Development of a revolutionary air vehicle technology is proposed. It
involves research in the following areas:  Toroid Rotor
Aerodynamics, Toroid Electric Motor Technology, Fuel Cell and
Photovoltaic Systems, Storage Battery and Pulse-Wave-Form Recharge
Techniques and Advanced Composite Sandwich Structures.  The proposed
feasibility study will provide scientific assessment of an electric
vehicle system that makes use of toroid motor-rotor units (MRU) to
hover and fly.  Key to understanding the utility of the toroid rotor
concept is: understanding its efficiency in providing lift. 
Conventional rotor theory is inadequate to accurately predict toroid
rotor performance.  A powered wind tunnel model test is proposed in
Phase II to gather appropriate technical data to support a valid
scientific assessment.  A successful "rim-drive" (toroid) electric
motor has been built for submersible propulsion and control.  This
hardware can be used to power a wind tunnel model. Unique,
non-dimensional parameters may be obtained for MRU performance
assessment.  Upper surface of a vehicle will have photovoltaic (PV)
cells as part of a propulsion system supplying electrical energy to
the MRUs. Storage batteries can be charged using advanced pulse
charging algorithm for periods without sunlit. An ultimate, fully
integrated vehicle will have fuel cells imbedded in the primary
structure of the aircraft. The fuel cells will function on the
products of electrolysis of H2O (water).  Products from the fuel
cell (heat, electricity, water) will be captured for heating
electrical components sensitive to low temperatures; the electricity
consumed by the electric motors or battery re-charge, and the water
recovered for electrolysis reprocessing-starting the cycle all over
again.  A "perpetual-motion-machine" is not advocated here.  Energy
losses will occur limiting mission time.  However, a 30% efficiency
improvement from the MRU coupled with a 30% energy storage to
structural weight improvement point to the viability of the concept.

14. Geoffrey A. Landis, Ohio Aerospace Institute
    "Advanced Solar- and Laser-Pushed Lightsail Concepts"

Solar sails allow the possibility of fuel-free propulsion in space. 
Typical concepts for solar and laser sails use reflective sails, but
recently there has been some analysis suggesting that dielectric
films could, in some missions, provide superior performance.  The
project will analyze the potential use of dielectric thin films for
solar and laser sails.  The advantages are extremely light weight
and good high temperature properties, which are necessary for both
for solar-sail missions inward toward the sun, for solar sail
missions outward from the sun that use a close perihelion pass to
build speed, and for high velocity laser-pushed missions for the
outer solar system and for interstellar probes.


From Sir Arthur C Clarke

Bill Napier's NEMESIS is excellent - one of the two novels I had
time to read in 1998!

       Sir Arthur Clarke     4 Nov 98


From Jonathan Shanklin <>

A short review of Bill's book will appear in the December Journal of
the British Astronomical Association.  I can thoroughly recommend

Jon Shanklin
British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, England


From BBC News Online


by our Science Editor David Whitehouse

On the 60th anniversary of one of the most famous radio broadcasts in
history - Orson Welles' War of the Worlds - new evidence suggests that
America did not panic as is commonly believed.

Millions tuned in 60 years ago to hear Orson Welles' adaptation of the
HG Wells science fiction classic.

Set in 1938 the American broadcast presented the Martian invasion as
if it was really happening.

Although a warning was broadcast at the start of the radio play, many
missed it. Later, while listening to dance music they heard, "Ladies
and Gentlemen we interrupt this broadcast ... " and the invasion was

An explosion on the surface of Mars; gas clouds heading for Earth;
cylinders land at Grovers Mill, New Jersey; Martians stride over the
landscape destroying the US army with their heat rays.

The following days newspapers said many panicked but a new assessment
of what happened that night says the hysteria has been exaggerated.

According to Robert Bartholomew of James Cook University in Australia,
panic was the exception and not the rule. "People were concerned," he
says, "but there is very little evidence that they actually did

"The supposed panic was put down to the power of the media. The fact
that many believe a panic took place when it did not, is also
testimony to the power of the media."

Still vulnerable

Listening to the play some people thought they could hear the Martians
and smell their poison gas. Others believed that it was not the
Martians but the Germans who were invading America in a surprise
attack with a secret weapon.

"Human perception is unreliable," says Robert Bartholomew. "Some
people saw what they believed was happening. It shows that believing
is seeing." He also believes that something like it could happen

"It is not a question of if but when there will be another scare like
it. It will take a different form but we are still vulnerable. We have
to learn the lessons of the War of the Worlds."

Copyright 1998, BBC


by C. F. Larry Heimann

Univ of Michigan Pr; ISBN: 0472108131

(From the book cover summary) Complex and risky technologies are an
engine for economic growth in our society. Nonetheless, these new
technologies also pose many problems for political leaders and the
policy makers responsible for overseeing them. Public agencies such
as the Food and Drug Administration are told by political superiors
not to inhibit important technological advances and may even be
charged with promoting such development; yet these agencies must
also make sure that no major accidents occur under their watch.
Given the large costs associated with catastrophic accidents, the
general public and elected officials often demand reliable or
failure-free management of these technologies and have little
tolerance for error. Research in the use of risky technologies has
lead to a schism between those who argue that it is possible to have
reliable management techniques and safely manage complex
technologies and others who contend that such control is difficult
at best. In this book Larry Heimann advances an important solution
to this problem by developing a general theory of organizational
reliability and agency decision making. He looks at both external
and internal influences on reliability in agency decision making.
Heimann then tests theoretical propositions in a comparative case
study of two agencies involved with the handling of risky
technologies: NASA, with the manned space flight program, and the
FDA, with the oversight of pharmaceuticals, particularly new AIDS
therapies. Drawing on concepts from engineering, organizational
theory, political science, and decision theory, this book will be of
interest to those interested in science and technology policy,
bureaucratic management and reform as well as those interested in
health and space policy.

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