CCNet, 9 November 1999


      "Even if the scenario of Mars life seeding the Earth is not
      correct, the reverse seems quite likely. Rocks all over the
      surface of the Earth have been found to contain microscopic life.
      It is hard to find places that don't have life. Hundreds of huge
      asteroid impacts have occurred on Earth since life first began.
      Without doubt some of these impacts would have launched rocks
      bearing microscopic life."
              -- Michael Paine, 8 November 1999

    Malcolm Miller <>

    Doug Keenan <>

    Ron Baalke <>

    Ron Baalke <>

    Bev M Ewen-Smith <>

    SPACE.COM, 8 November 1999


From Malcolm Miller <>

Dear Benny,

I confess to being deceived by the BBC report of Sir Arthur C Clarke's
rather pessimistic, but really tongue-in-cheek, views. Of course what
he really said is in line with many of his past statements about where
the human species is going. Incidentally, I believe I have read all of
Arthur C. Clarke's works - I started reading science fiction in the

I am one of the believers in the diaspora type of future, in which we
expand in time into the Solar System and eventually into the galaxy. I
have friends who fear for Earth's future and see human exploitation,
without regard for our species' future, as our greatest danger.

In 'The City And The Stars' ( Frederick Muller Ltd, 1956), Clarke wrote
of a society in which synthetic 'adventures' of a virtual reality kind
sapped any urge for real exploratory activites, except for one person,
the unique Alvin. When I talk with young people whose imaginative world
seems dominated by electronic games and computer simulations, they seem
unmoved by the real hazards faced by all those who ride in our
primitive space vehicles. Yet I know there is a strong culture of
engineers, scientists, and astronauts who are well aware of the
challenge of space, and the consequences of error.

My poem was an attempt to echo the feelings expressed in the BBC
report, and should really be classed as irony, since my own hope is
that we will get out there where I believe we belong, in the universe,
instead of stuck on this single planet. Perhaps other readers missed my
irony, as the BBC reporter missed Clarke's real meaning!

Malcolm Miller


Dear Malcolm

I am glad to read your re-assuring words. I share your view that the
future of human evolution will increasingly take place also in space.
We cannot, however, escape our human nature - regardless of where we
prever to live. Ultimately, we will have to change our behaviours too.
That’s why I believe terrestrial and extra-terrestrial evolution need
to go hand in hand. Whatever the case, I look forward to many more of
your thought provoking space poetry!

With best wishes, Benny


From Doug Keenan <>


Regarding the excellent work of Julian Simon in debunking Malthusian
prophets of doom, there is a nice, brief overview at

Doug Keenan


From Ron Baalke <>


Contact:  Mary Hardin

INTERNET IMAGE ADVISORY                         November 8, 1999


     NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft has taken a close-up
look at a Martian impact crater that is three times the size of
Earth's well-known Meteor Crater in Arizona.

     The new image, along with others taken during Mars Global
Surveyor's ongoing mapping mission, are available at or .

     The detailed look at this impressive Martian feature shows
many small windblown drifts, or dunes, in the low areas both
within the crater and outside on the surrounding terrain. Some
portions of the crater's walls exhibit outcrops of bare, layered
rock. Large boulders, some bigger than school buses, have been
dislodged from the walls and have tumbled down the slopes to the
crater floor.

     Mars Global Surveyor is the first mission in a long-term
program of Mars exploration known as the Mars Surveyor Program
that is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's
Office of Space Science, Washington, DC.  JPL is a division of
the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.


From Ron Baalke <>

Spring Meeting
Astronomische Gesellschaft
Deutsche Geologische Gesellschaft

Asteroids, Meteorites, Impacts and their Consequences
AMICO 2000

Date: May 16 - 20 , 2000

Place: Nordlingen im Ries, Germany

Occasion: The celebration of the tenth anniversary of the
"Ries-Krater-Museum" in Nordlingen

Organized by:

Prof. Dr. Hubert Miller (Geologische Staatssammlung, München) for the
Deutsche Geologische Gesellschaft (DGG)
Dr. Michael Schieber, Director of the Ries-Krater-Museum, Nördlingen
Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Vogt, Nördlingen, for the Astronomische Gesellschaft
(AG), Coordinator

Scientific Organizing Committee:

Dr. Rudolf Albrecht, ESO/ST-ECF Garching
Prof. Dr. Peter Brosche, Observatorium Hoher List, Daun
Dr. Gerhard Hahn, DLR, Berlin-Adlersdorf
Prof. Dr. Michael H. Soffel, Institut für Planetare Geodesie, Dresden
Prof. Dr. Heinrich Völk, MPI für Kernphysik, Heidelberg

Geo sciences:
Prof. Dr. Lutz Bischoff, Geologisch-Paläontologisches Institut, Münster
Prof. Dr. Alexander Deutsch, Insitut für Planetologie, Münster
Prof. Dr. Christian Koeberl, Institut für Geochemie, Wien
Prof. Dr. Klaus Heide, Institut für Geowissenschaften, Jena
Prof. Dr. Ludolf Schultz, MPI für Chemie, Mainz
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Stinnesbeck, Geologisches Institut, Karlsruhe

The Nordlinger Ries is one of the largest and best documented impact
craters in Europe. Therefore, in 1990 the "Ries-Krater-Museum" was
inaugurated in Nordlingen. This museum demonstrates to the public the
physics, the immediate effects and long-term consequences of an
asteroid impact in a clear, evident and impressive manner, based on
the most recent scientific knowledge. On the occasion of the tenth
anniversary of this institution we are planning an international and
interdisciplinary conference of astronomers, geologists,
palaeontologists, mineralogists and other scientists of related areas
for an international and interdisciplinary conference. It will cover
the most important aspects of impacts in the solar system, in
particular those of small bodies (asteroids, comets) on planets and
their satellites, with special emphasis to Earth and Moon.

The topic seems to hold growing interest, not only for specialists in
natural science, but also for a larger public. Therefore we expect
that this conference will also contribute to disseminate new
scientific knowledge and recent results into the public on local,
national and international levels.

Principal Topics:

*small bodies in the solar system: asteroids, comets, interplanetary
*meteorites: origin, age, analysis methods and items related to
*impact craters on Earth and other planets: statistics, ages, geologic
structures, dating;
*geologic and mineralogic features of impacts: coloured breccia, suevite,
shutter cones, tectits (moldavites) and others;
*computer simulations and laboratory experiments on impacts;
*history of impact events on Earth and their consequences: massive
extintion of species, periodicities etc;
*research on impacts and its importance to human society and for the
assessment of mankind's position in the Universe.

In addition to invited reviews referring on the above-mentioned
topics the conference will also deal with contributions supplied
either in form of oral reports or presentations of posters. Parallel
sessions should be avoided. A considerable part of the available time
should be devoted to interdisciplinary discussions. Posters should
also be incorporated in these discussions, scheduling, p.e., special
poster sessions. Conference language is English, only events for the
public will be in German.



Rieskrater-Museum Noerdlingen
Eugene-Shoemaker-Platz 1
D-86720 Noerdlingen
Tel. +49-9081-273 8220
FAX +49-9081-273 82220
E mail:


From Bev M Ewen-Smith <>

If you are interested in Radio Meteor reception, check:

The program implements the dopplergram method of radio meteor detection
that was described in the Feb 99 issue of WGN.  Apart from a comms
receiver, no external hardware is required for this method.  The
receiver audio signal is connected into the sound port of a PC and the
signal analysed for doppler-shifted scattered signals which are
displayed on the screen.

If you are expecting cloud for the 17th, this may be your alternative
to watch the show!



Bev and Jan Ewen-Smith
COAA, sítio do Poio, Mexilhoeira Grande 8500-149, Portugal
Tel 00 351 282 471180        Fax 00 351 282 471516      


From SPACE.COM, 8 November 1999

By Michael Paine
Special to

Nov 08 1999 09:58:35 ET

Suppose that billions of years ago life developed on Mars. Primitive,
tiny organisms that thrived deep within rocks and made a living from
water and chemicals seeping through those rocks.

Now imagine that a huge asteroid collided with Mars. Millions of
martian rock fragments were thrown into space by the force of the
impact. Tough martian organisms hitchhiked on some of this ejecta. Many
pieces went into orbit around the sun and, after hundreds of thousands
of years, some of these collided with the Earth. Of those rocks, a few
reached the surface. Some hardy martian organisms survived the journey,
colonized the Earth and eventually evolved into the huge variety of
life that we know today.

Just a few years ago this scenario would have been dismissed as wildly
imaginative and highly improbable. Though still highly speculative,
recent discoveries in several fields of science have shown that it is
far from impossible -- our ancient ancestors might have been martians.

Enter the nanobes

It is not every day that a scientist discovers a possible new life
form. Dr. Phillipa Uwins works in the Center for Microscopy and
Microanalysis at Queensland University, Australia. Last year she was
asked to analyze some rock samples taken from several miles under the
seabed in a drilling operation off the coast of western Australia. The
temperature at this location was around 300 Fahrenheit (150 Celsius)
and the pressure was an incredible 2,000 times normal atmospheric
pressure at sea level.

During an electron microscope examination, Uwins found what appeared to
be tiny, dormant organisms only 20 nanometers across. (A nanometer is
one -billionth billionth of a meter.) She named them "nanobes."

To Uwins' surprise, filaments grew when samples of the nanobes were
given some food and exposed to normal temperatures and pressures. She
was also surprised because the cell walls of the nanobes survived the
intense radiation and vacuum of the electron microscope.

Uwins teamed up with two microbiologists to further investigate the
nanobes. A range of chemical tests indicated that the tiny objects
contained DNA. This finding challenged the notion that a "cell" 20
nanometers in diameter was too small to have room for this essential
ingredient of life as we know it (it is also one of the arguments
against the "nanofossils" in martian meteorites -- discussed below).

Here was a tough little critter that was able to survive the heat and
pressure deep underground and, possibly, the vacuum and radiation of an
electron microscope. The Queensland team may have found an organism
that can survive a ride between the planets aboard a meteorite.

Creatures don't have to be as small as nanobes to survive space-like
conditions. Several other examples of "extremophiles" (organisms that
can survive very hostile conditions) have been found by other
researchers in recent years, including bacteria that live inside
nuclear reactors.

Meteorites from Mars

Rocks from Mars have made it to the Earth. Remember the fuss in 1996
when NASA scientists claimed they had found possible fossil evidence of
ancient life in a meteorite from Mars? (That debate is still not

After being blasted from the surface of Mars, one small chunk of rock
spent 16 million years in orbit around the Sun. Then some 13,000 years
ago it collided with the Earth and landed in the icy Antarctic. In
1984, scientists searching for meteorites found it and named it
ALH84001. Ten years later researchers figured out that ALH84001 had
come from Mars. This was based partly on an analysis of the Martian
atmosphere by the Viking spacecraft in 1977 -- but that is another
detective story.

A dozen or so other meteorites are now known to have come from Mars. In
1911 one of them fell to Earth in Egypt and killed a dog. It took
almost 80 years to recognize that the unlucky dog had been killed by a
rock thrown from Mars. Planetary scientist and crater expert Dr. Jay
Melosh, from the University of Arizona, has estimated that about half a
ton of martian material falls to Earth each year.

Melosh observed that some of the martian meteorites showed no evidence
of a violent shock when they were blasted into space from the surface
of Mars. This meant "back to the drawing board" for theories about
rocks ejected into space by impacts -- they were supposed to be partly
melted by the intense heat from the shock wave.

Melosh worked out a theory that rocks near the surface could be
launched into space without "shock heating." The effect is something
like crumbs being flicked from a shaken picnic blanket.

The discovery meant that organisms hiding within ejected rocks could
survive the blast from a nearby asteroid impact. There are, however,
many other hazards in a flight from Mars to Earth. Melosh investigated
these hazards and was able to show that some organisms had a fighting
chance of making the trip between the planets.

Surviving space flight

In his classic 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, science fiction
writer Jules Verne wrote of a piloted space capsule being launched by a
gigantic cannon. Verne was aware of the scientific error with this idea
-- the astronauts would be crushed by forces thousands of times greater
than the pull of gravity (1 G or an increase in speed of 32 feet per
second every second). Verne knew that the steady and comparatively
gentle rocket was the way to reach space, but his audience of the day
was more likely to believe the cannon story.

For most creatures on Earth, exposure to several hundred Gs would be
fatal. They have no hope of surviving the Jules Verne cannon blast, or
a ride on a rock blasted into space by an asteroid impact. But some
very primitive forms of life are so small and simple that they can
survive enormous accelerations -- 10,000 G or more.

One way that scientists can test the ability of organisms to survive
very high G forces is to fire them out of a cannon. This was recently
done in Sweden and a substantial proportion of dormant organisms
survived the launch conditions. Jules Verne had the right idea but the
wrong organism.

Of all the rocks blasted from the surface of Mars into orbit around the
sun, about one in 15 will eventually collide with the Earth. Some make
it in thousands of years. Others may take millions of years. For
organisms aboard these rocks the journey would be extremely hazardous,
with freezing temperatures, deadly cosmic rays and ultraviolet
radiation. But the rock spaceship provides some protection from
radiation and cosmic rays, and the deep freeze may actually help some
organisms survive the tough conditions.

Next, the organisms would have to survive the rigors of colliding with
the Earth. The outside of a meteorite glows white-hot as it plunges
into the atmosphere at 25,000 mph or more. Many burn up completely and
never reach the ground. However, a small percentage survive and make it
to the surface.

The inside of a meteorite is protected from the heat of re-entry
because rock is a very good heat insulator. People who have come across
a freshly fallen meteorite sometimes report that a layer of frost has
formed on its surface. The inside remained at the freezing temperature
of space even though the outside glowed white-hot during reentry. Any
organisms within the meteorite could therefore -- in theory -- survive
to reach the surface of the Earth.

Finally, the organisms would have to make a home for themselves on
their new planet. Billions of years ago the conditions on Earth might
have been similar to those on Mars, so colonizing this planet may not
have been difficult, compared with the hazards of getting here.

Of course, this scenario all depends on Mars having some tough forms of
microscopic life billions of years ago. Maybe the exciting space
missions to Mars planned over the next few years tell us whether this
was the case or not.

Lifeboats in space

Another intriguing possibility is that meteorites may have acted as
lifeboats ("escape pods" for Star Wars fans).

Giant asteroids and comets bombarded the planets up until the time that
life is first thought to have arisen. Following some of these impacts
the surface of the Earth would have been sterilized by temperatures
much hotter than an oven, and any oceans would have boiled away.
Perhaps the only escape for organisms was to be blasted into space and
the really lucky ones returned to the Earth when things cooled down.
The same rescue system could have worked for any life on Mars.

Maybe martians came from Earth

Even if the scenario of Mars life seeding the Earth is not correct, the
reverse seems quite likely. Rocks all over the surface of the Earth
have been found to contain microscopic life. It is hard to find places
that don't have life. Hundreds of huge asteroid impacts have occurred
on Earth since life first began. Without doubt some of these impacts
would have launched rocks bearing microscopic life.

In his book "The Fifth Miracle," physicist Paul Davies discusses the
origins and development of life on Earth. He pays great attention to
the possibility of life being exchanged between Earth and Mars and
concludes "It is therefore inevitable that life from Earth has reached
Mars ... that is why I am certain that there was life on Mars in the
past, and may well be life there today".

Paul Davies also notes that, 4 billion years ago, Mars may have been
more suitable than Earth for the development of life. He argues that we
should be prepared for the possibility, remote though it may seem, that
we are descended from martians.

Copyright 1999,

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By Dr Michael Martin-Smith, BSc,MRCGP,FBIS, President of Space Age Associates, HULL, UK (11/09/99) <>

CCCMENU CCC for 1999