CCNet 102/2003 - 10 November 2003

The NASA of today is probably not the agency to undertake a significant new program
to return humans to deep space, particularly the Moon and then to Mars. NASA today
lacks the energy and imagination needed for sending humans into deep space. It also
has become too bureaucratic and too risk-adverse.
    --Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut

According to Prof Manuel's theory, the inner planets formed closer to the centre of
the supernova explosion, where conditions were hotter and thus better-suited to the
formation of rocky material. All very intriguing, and one might expect the scientific
community would be keen to know more. Not a bit of it; Prof Manuel has been trying to
get others to take his "Iron Sun" theory seriously for decades, without notable success.
     --Robert Matthews, The Sunday Telegraph, 9 November 2003

Every 2,500 to 3,000 years or so, the core of the Taurid stream passes near Earth and
produces much more intense meteor showers for a few centuries, said [Duncan] Steel. A
gap of a few centuries separates the era of intensity between Northern Taurids and Southern
Taurids. "It is about 1,000 years before the next such epoch is due," he said. "I have
suggested that megalith building, for example Stonehenge, was prompted by such events in
the past, when the sky started going wild, repeatedly, every year."
      --John Roach, National Geographic News, 7 November 2003


    National Geographic News, 7 November 2003

    The Sunday Telegraph, 9 November 2003

    Gregory Nemitz <>

    Jim Benson

    William E. Burrows

    Pingyuan Cui, Hutao Cui, Hehua Ju

    Ohio State University, 6 November 2003

    Jens Kieffer-Olsen <>

     Vera Assis Fernandes <>

     China Valley <>

     Matt Terry <>

     Ed Grondine <>

     Theresa Cooper <>


By Jason Bates

WASHINGTON -- Proponents of returning humans to the Moon told a U.S. Senate subcommittee Nov.
6 that NASA might not be the best institution to fund and run such an ambitious mission.

While technology developed by NASA could play an integral role in returning humans to the Moon,
the agency itself should not necessarily be involved, witnesses told members of the Senate
Commerce, Science and Transportation science, technology, and space subcommittee.

NASA last sent astronauts to the lunar surface in December 1972 aboard Apollo 17. Since that
time the agency has concentrated on low-Earth orbit missions and robotic deep-space probes.

That shift to less spectacular missions caused the American public to lose interest in space,
several witnesses testified. And in the view of some, while returning to the Moon could return
that spark, it might best be driven by privately funded endeavors.

"The NASA of today is probably not the agency to undertake a significant new program to return
humans to deep space, particularly the Moon and then to Mars," Harrison Schmitt, an Apollo 17 astronaut, told the subcomittee.

NASA today lacks the energy and imagination needed for sending humans into deep space, Schmitt, now chairman of Albuquerque, N.M.-based and chairman of InterLune-InterMars Initiative Inc., said. "It also has become too bureaucratic and too risk-adverse," he said.
Schmitt also dismissed the idea of a public-private partnership to fund a moon mission, because
of the spotty record of success of such endeavors. "A partnership with the government has been
a tough managerial nut to crack," he said. "We either need a new NASA, a new agency, or private
investors. I don't think there is a good middle ground."

Schmitt advocates a privately-funded endeavor, enticing funding support by creating a Moon-based
business that would provide a cheap source of power for Earth.

Schmitt claims his plan, which involves the mining of helium-3 to power future fusion reactors
on Earth, can be accomplished in 10 to 15 years using between $10 billion and $15 billion in
private financing, which he claims will be more stable than government funding.

David Criswell, director of the Institute for Space System Operations at the University of
Houston, also supports using the Moon to provide energy for Earth. He claims solar power
collectors on the lunar surface could provide power to Earth at much cheaper costs than any
terrestrial methods currently in use.

The necessary technology to produce the Lunar Solar Power system already exists, Criswell said,
and "can be in operation in space and on the moon within a few years."

Paul Spudis, a visiting scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, said returning
to the Moon also can be done with existing space technology derived from work that has been done
on the space shuttle and International Space Station programs.

"There is no magic involved," Spudis said. "We could build vehicles that involve rocket
technology that is basically off-the-shelf."

"The space shuttle or unmanned vehicles could ferry parts to low-Earth orbit that will be
assembled into a vehicle to carry humans beyond low-Earth orbit," Spudis said.

"We're spending money whether the space shuttle is flying or not," he said. "The shuttle is expensive right now, even on the ground, and we're trying to find a way to use the existing infrastructure to build a transportation system to return to the Moon."

Besides the dream of cheap energy, the Moon also can provide a base for enhanced astronomical observations, said Roger Angel, director of the Center for Astronomical Adaptive Optics at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Placing a 20-meter telescope at the Moon's south pole would provide the best combination a remote place of operations away from Earth and the chance to upgrade and maintain the system, Angel said.

"In the past decade, NASA did not encourage thinking about Moon," Angel said. "But I think the astronomical potential there is very high. If one felt this was really going to happen, I think there would be enormous enthusiasm for this."

Angel, Criswell, Schmitt and Spudis were the only witnesses who testified. No one from NASA was at the hearing nor was anyone who advocates a NASA-led mission to the Moon or Mars.

Schmitt said he sees the Moon not as a final destination, but as a key base for sending humans to Mars and beyond.

"I think the cheapest and fastest way to get human to Mars is by way of the Moon through commercial development of a technology base necessary to go to the Moon and extract its resource," Schmitt said.

Spudis also believes that returning to the Moon is a stepping stone for sending humans deeper into space.

"What do on the Moon is learn to live off the resources," Spudis said. "If we do that, it opens up everything. To go to Mars right now would require an amazing amount of money and that probably is not an investment the country is willing to put up. If we go to Moon and do this, than it automatically make it easier to go to Mars in the future."

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), a member of the subcommittee, agreed that sending humans to the Moon again would be beneficial.

"I think this is an exciting time and it's key that things like this are being reviewed for the real nature of their sustainability," he said. "I'm very aware of the start-and-stop nature of space programs, and we can't that again. This has to be a vision that is real and it has have a buy-in from the American public."

The White House is currently leading an interagency review of possible new missions for NASA. Several committees and subcommittees have held hearings to listen to various viewpoints about the future of human space travel.

Robert Zubrin, executive director of the Mars Society, told the full Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Oct. 31 that the goal of the United States should be to send humans to Mars within a decade. Zubrin criticized the amount of money NASA spends on the shuttle program and space station programs calling it much less efficient than the return the agency achieved on the money it spent on the Apollo program.

He encouraged the Senate to fund a Mars program.

"Congress should not fund the construction of things," Zubrin said. "It should fund the implementation of a plan."

Copyright 2003,


National Geographic News, 7 November 2003

John Roach

Chances for stargazers to witness a blazing fireball streak across the night sky improve as the Taurid meteor shower peaks over the next few weeks.

"They do tend to produce a good fraction of bright fireballs," said Duncan Steel, an Adelaide, Australia-based space researcher and world expert on comets and meteors.

The showers should be visible around the world to the naked eye, particularly on moonless nights and away from city lights.

The Taurid meteor shower peaks over the next several weeks. Unlike the better known Leonids (picture above), Taurid meteors travel more slowly and blaze brighter in the night sky.

The Taurid meteor stream formed over the past 20,000 to 30,000 years. Today it consists of the comet Encke, which is thought to be a remnant of a much larger comet, and a conglomeration of asteroids, meteorites, and assorted fragments of celestial matter.

Bill Napier, a research astronomer with Ireland's Armagh Observatory said the Taurid meteors "make up the most massive stream in the inner planetary system." When the stream's orbit passes close to Earth, stray particles burn in Earth's atmosphere, causing a streak of light across the night sky commonly referred to as a shooting star.

"There are lots of very large pieces within the stream which produces occasionally very notable fireballs," said Gary Kronk, a St. Louis, Missouri-based science writer who maintains the Comets & Meteor Showers Web site.

Over time, the Taurids have split into a northern branch and a southern branch due to the gravitational pull of planets like Jupiter disrupting various bits in the stream at slightly different rates. As a result, the branches interact with Earth's atmosphere at different times.

During the next two weeks, both the northern and southern branches of the Taurids will produce about seven shooting stars per hour.

"Because the meteor stream is rather spread out in space, the Earth takes a week or two to pass through it, unlike, say, the Leonids, which are tightly bunched and through which Earth passes in a few hours, sometimes to great effect," said Napier.

There are several other meteor showers linked to the Taurid meteor stream, including daytime showers, which are observable with radar. Steel and Napier suggest the daytime Beta Taurids are the source of the Tunguska object which flattened thousands of square miles of Siberian forest on June 30, 1908.

Slow Burn

Relative to other, more well-known meteor showers such as the Leonids, which will streak across the sky later this month at speeds over 37 miles (60 kilometers) per second, the Taurids appear slow. They move across the sky at about 17 miles (27 kilometers) per second.

This relatively stately pace and the Taurid's brightness make them of particular interest to astro-photographers, according to the American Meteor Society.

Their name derives from the fact that the Taurids appear to radiate from the constellation Taurus the Bull. (To find Taurus, follow the three well-known stars that form the belt of Orion up to a bright, orange-red star known as Aldebaran.)

Every 2,500 to 3,000 years or so, the core of the Taurid stream passes near Earth and produces much more intense meteor showers for a few centuries, said Steel. A gap of a few centuries separates the era of intensity between Northern Taurids and Southern Taurids.

"It is about 1,000 years before the next such epoch is due," he said. "I have suggested that megalith building, for example Stonehenge, was prompted by such events in the past, when the sky started going wild, repeatedly, every year."

Astronomers believe the source of the Taurid meteor stream was a giant comet that has since dissipated. A remnant of this giant is believed to be comet Encke, which can currently be viewed through binoculars as it heads west across the evening sky.

Copyright 2003, National Geographic News


The Sunday Telegraph, 9 November 2003

Robert Matthews
Our supposedly middle-aged Sun has been behaving like an adolescent of late, hurling huge clouds
of particles at us after its face broke out in spots. Its celestial hissy fit has damaged
satellites, sent the occupants of the International Space Station scurrying for cover, and
forced aircraft to change routes to avoid excessive cosmic radiation. The Sun's outburst has
also produced some spectacular displays of the Northern Lights in places as far south as Kent
and Jersey.

Yet the weirdest Earth-bound manifestation to date takes the form of a scientific paper, written
by an American physicist. According to Oliver Manuel, a professor of nuclear chemistry at the
University of Missouri-Rolla, the recent solar storms are symptomatic of the Sun being made
chiefly out of iron.

At first glance, this seems about as plausible as arguing that the moon is made from cheese.
Yet Prof Manuel has published several papers that, he claims, raise serious doubts over the
textbook view of the Sun as being a giant ball of hydrogen and helium. Prof Manuel is happy to
go along with the standard idea of the Sun producing heat by fusing together hydrogen nuclei.
He claims, however, that this is not the prime source of the Sun's energy. Instead, he says
that lurking at the centre of the Sun is an extremely hot remnant of a supernova - the explosion
of a giant star that detonated before the solar system was born.

Measuring just five to 10 miles across, this remnant makes up most of the mass of the Sun,
according to Prof Manuel, and its chief constituent is iron. In a paper to appear soon in the
Journal of Fusion Energy, Prof Manuel argues that his bizarre proposal does a better job than
the standard theory of explaining many aspects of the Sun's behaviour, and much else besides.
It does seem to provide a neat explanation of why the inner planets, including the Earth, are
rocky, while those further away are gas-balls (a mystery whose recalcitrance was noted in this
column last month).

According to Prof Manuel's theory, the inner planets formed closer to the centre of the
supernova explosion, where conditions were hotter and thus better-suited to the formation of
rocky material. All very intriguing, and one might expect the scientific community would be
keen to know more. Not a bit of it; Prof Manuel has been trying to get others to take his
"Iron Sun" theory seriously for decades, without notable success.

It is not that the idea is patently barmy. Supernovas are known to produce remnants of the
kind he postulates, and the textbooks cheerfully describe them as having a "crust" of pure
iron, forged in the nuclear furnace of the huge star that produces the supernova. The real
problem is the huge intellectual investment astronomers have made in the hydrogen-based model
of the Sun. After all these years, they are going to need a lot of persuading to give that up
and turn to the Iron Sun theory. Or rather, to return to it. For the truth is that astronomers
have been here before.

Astonishingly enough, the idea that the Sun is chiefly made of iron was the prevailing theory
until after the Second World War. For years the evidence seemed compelling. Sunlight viewed
through a spectroscope reveals the presence of a myriad of chemical elements in its atmosphere,
especially hydrogen and iron. During the 1920s, astrophysicists trying to explain the Sun's
brightness found that the sums worked out if the Sun was around 65 per cent iron and 35 per
cent hydrogen. Annoyingly, however, there was another possibility, with just one per cent iron
and 99 per cent hydrogen and helium.

This awkward second solution was dealt with in the time-honoured fashion, and swept under the
carpet. Then in the mid-1920s, a young English-born astronomer working at Harvard University
claimed that the spectrum of sunlight was in fact consistent with this second, hydrogen-rich
solution. In making this outrageous claim, Cecilia Payne had forgotten something: she was a
woman. This ensured that she had enormous difficulty persuading her superiors to take her work
seriously (at one stage she was funded on the basis of being "equipment"). In her final report
she was forced to add the statement that the abundance of hydrogen she had observed was "almost
certainly not real".

It took another 20 years before Payne's original claim was confirmed, following detailed
calculations by the Cambridge astrophysicist Fred Hoyle. It is doubtless significant that
Hoyle's brilliance was matched only by his combativeness. Prof Manuel will surely need that
characteristic in abundance if he hopes to persuade the scientific community to do another
volte face, and revive the theory of the Iron Sun.
Copyright 2003, The Sunday Telegraph


Gregory Nemitz <>

Carson City, Nevada   November 6, 2003

Orbital Development ( of Carson City, Nevada announced that
legal action was begun in its "Eros Project" ( against
the United States by filing a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment in Federal
Court today.

Asteroid 433, Eros is lawfully owned by Gregory W. Nemitz since March 3,
2000.  Orbital Development is managing the "Eros Project for Space Property
Law" for Nemitz.  The Project was begun to require the US government to
officially recognize his ownership of that asteroid.  Nemitz estimates his
property's value to be more than US$10 trillion.

When NASA permanently landed its NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft on Eros on
February 12, 2001, Nemitz sent an invoice to NASA for parking and storage
fees of $20, to pay for one full century of rent.  Citing its
interpretation of the United Nations' Outer Space Treaty of 1967, NASA
refused to pay the invoiced amount.

Official Notice was then sent to the United States Department of State
informing the agency that NASA had exceeded its authority and had denied
Nemitz of his Rights.  The Department of State officially responded on
August 15, 2003 by also citing its interpretation of the Treaty, that
Nemitz's "claim is without legal basis."

The Complaint for Declaratory Judgment was filed in the United States
District Court, District of Nevada in Reno, Nevada on November 6,
2003.  The Complaint alleges that Nemitz was denied his Fifth, Ninth and
Tenth Amendment rights protected by the Constitution.   Nemitz asserts in
the Court filings that "no treaty has ever abrogated, overthrown, or
amended constitutional law"  The suit is seeking $1,107 in damages, rulings
to overturn the NASA and Department of State conclusions, and a ruling that
Nemitz's Claim to ownership of the asteroid is a Lawful and valid Claim.

The central issue of the case submitted to the Court is "Treaty vs. the
Natural, Inherent Rights of Man" to acquire and own property.  The side
issue of whether actual possession is required prior recognized ownership,
is moot in this regard.  US District Judge Howard D. McKibben has been
assigned to the action.

When asked why he is taking the United States Government court, Nemitz
stated, "As basic principle, the very foundation of all government action
resides in the social contract among those governed, which allows their
government officials to act towards protecting individual and property
rights. If any government, or treaty to which a government adheres,
rules  private ownership of private property in Space to be unlawful, they
will have lost all their legitimate footing to be a government of, for, and
by the People who view Space as a Frontier.  We need to know where the U.S.
government stands on this critical issue."

On November 21, 2003, Nemitz will speak about Space Property Law and
Property Rights in Space at the International Lunar Conference in Hawaii
(  His presentation is "Developing Property Claims and
Asteroid Eros".

Contact & Interview Information:
Orbital Development,        Gregory Nemitz, President
Tel: 775-450-6144             
Fax: 413-460-6480               


Jim Benson

Nothing short of outright private property rights are required to incentivize humanity to
pull itself up and leave its cradle, the Earth.

Can anyone imagine modern life today in which you could not purchase private property,
a major source of stability and wealth in modern societies? Why should we have less in
space, when the earth is small, finite and fragile, while space is almost infinite? If we
want to go to space to work and live and play, space has to pay. Space has not
"happened" on the backs of the taxpayers, and will not happen in the future if it is
taxpayers who are burdened with government space programs, which by their very nature
are complex, slow, inefficient, expensive, and off-target.

Near earth objects and main belt asteroids are lifeless and consist of concentrated natural
resources, with an unimaginably large amount of water, the most abundant substance in
the solar system and in the universe. Water is the substance of life, the universal solvent,
and being oxygen and hydrogen, is the equivalent in space of petroleum on earth.
Sustainable space activities need access to concentrated portable energy, just as we do in
modern earth-bound societies. When we get to earth orbit, which is energetically halfway
to anywhere in the solar system, we are stymied, going in circles, running on empty.
There is no life on most planetary bodies, especially on the millions of asteroids and near
earth objects. There will be no need to displace indigenous life forms.

Without property rights and the unfettered ability to own, buy, sell and develop in space,
we will be left to smother here in our own wastes, as we continue to deplete and foul the
life support system of our unique Spaceship Earth.

The U.S. Congress wisely took a laissez faire approach to the development of the
Internet, realizing that too many regulations too early in its development cycle could
smother it and eliminate a dynamic force that is driving productivity, technology and
human knowledge to ever new heights, an important democratizing of access to
knowledge. Putting limits and controls on the development of space too early and with
too little information could forever doom humanity to be earth-bound.

Nothing short of the encouragement of entrepreneurs to risk their own lives and fortunes
will cause space to happen. Why tie one hand behind their backs before such pioneering
efforts begin in earnest? Those taking such risks should be able to claim asteroids as their
own, upon visiting, assessing and landing on them, at their own, non-subsidized expense.
As for planets and their moons, such risk-takers should be rewarded with property
ownership embodied in a very small percentage of the planet's surface, surrounding their
landing site. This will encourage pioneers to land in the most valuable areas similar to the
land rushes in the United States in which people raced to claim free land, and tried to get
the best first, but still leaving plenty to those more timid or slower who followed later.

Jim Benson


William E. Burrows

New York University
10 Washington Place
New York, NY 10003
(203) 322-4877
Fax: (212) 995-4566

Suggested paper for presentation at the International Lunar Conference 2003.

The single, overarching, purpose of establishing a permanent human presence on the
Moon should be the protection of Earth and the survival of humanity.

In their novel, Encounter with Tiber, Buzz Aldrin and John Barnes have the commander of
an interstellar space cruiser warn her crew: "There's not a place in the universe that's
safe forever; the universe is telling us, 'Spread out, or wait around and die.'"

Webster's dictionary in part defines "program" as "a plan or system under which action
may be taken toward a goal." By that definition, there is no space program, since there
is no clearly articulated, focused, goal. Instead, there is a diffuse array of specialized
programs, all competing for funding, and in many instances working against each other. This
is not only wrong, it is abidingly dangerous for civilization.

For the first time, humanity has the wherewithal to protect itself from extraterrestrial and
homemade calamities because it has access to space. Yet that access is being squandered.
Several of us have therefore created an organization called the Alliance to Rescue Civilization,
or ARC, that is promoting the duplication of the essential elements of Earth's collective
civilization and life forms - backing up the planetary hard drive, as it were - and storing
them in a continuously updated archive in a large lunar colony that would be the central part
of a comprehensive program whose single, allencompassing, focus would be to use space to protect
Earth. The archive and the settlement in which it would be contained would serve the same
purpose as the insurance and lifeboat every skipper takes to sea: to ensure survival in the
event of catastrophe. A look at all the impact craters on the Moon itself, as well as on Mercury
and every other moon in the solar system, shows that we live in a dangerous neighborhood. The
well-known impact that finished off the dinosaurs sixty-five million years ago, as well as
scores of others here on Earth, show that it is prudent to spread our seeds. And it is the
Moon, not Mars, where the first seeds should be planted. That way, if catastrophe does
strike, the means of rescuing the home planet is relatively close by.

Planetary defense in its several manifestations, including resource monitoring and the
prevention of the spread of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear war, should be the
fundamental, compelling, mission of our and other nations' space programs. I am the
director of New York University's graduate Science and Environmental Reporting Program
and the author of Deep Black: Space Espionage and National Security, Exploring Space,
and This New Ocean: The Story of the First Space Age.


Pingyuan Cui, Hutao Cui, Hehua Ju

Deep Space Exploration Research Center.
HIT Harbin Institute of Technology 137,150001,Fax:0451-6418010

Enjie Luan, Wuiren Wu and Yulong Tian
China National Space Administration
Jia 8#, Fucheng Road, Haidian

Ivar Asteroid Rendezvous Mission System Scenario and Trajectory Design

Based on the principle of faster, better, cheaper, this paper has searched and calculated
asteroid exploration opportunities whose launch dates are in the interval of 2006 to 2010,
Taking 1627 Ivar asteroid as the exploration target, the whole spacecraft and its subsystems
project have been designed and analyzed, simultaneously, the transfer trajectory for
asteroid rendezvous has been designed using dVEGA technology,the result acquired satisfied
energy requirement of minitype spacecraft.

As successful launch of all kinds of spacecraft and the commencement of the new century,
comet and asteroid exploration has been one of the important parts in deep space
exploration fields. Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft launched in February
1996 (one of American "Discovery" plan missions), has performed a flyby of the main-belt
asteroid 253 Mathilde on June 27,1997, and ultimately landed on asteroid, Eros 433.
Spacecraft Deep Space-1, launched in October 1998 and rendezvoused with asteroid 1992KD,
has been considered as a primary deep space exploration mission, and has experimented more
new technologies. Comet spacecraft Stardust, which has been launched in Florida in February
1999, will rendezvous with the comet Wild 2 in January 2004, and will collect dust and return
to the earth. Asteroid spacecraft MUSES-C, being developed by Japan, will propose to launch
by launch vehicle M-5 in 2002, and it will arrive near-earth asteroid 1998 SF36 in
September 2005,rendezvous with the asteroid and sample. Finally, it will depart from the
asteroid in June 2007. ESA ROSETTA plan, which will launch spacecraft by Ariane 5 in
January 2003,and it will arrive comet Wirtanen and land on the comet in 2011 by a Mars
gravity-assist flyby and two earth gravity-assist flyby. In this paper, a plan of
Chinese asteroid Ivar 1627 exploration will be presented. First the launch opportunities
and arrival time are given. Then the whole spacecraft scheme and the trajectory transfer
scheme are designed and analyzed. Finally the transfer trajectory for rendezvous with
asteroid Ivar is designed using dVEGA technology.

According to principle of the scheme establishment, asteroid exploration mission must
have well-focused scientific objectives as well as strict limits on project costs and
development time. For the requirement above, the constraints established are as follows:
Launch date in the interval 2006 to 2010.


Ohio State University, 6 November 2003

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The latest expeditions to ice caps in the high, tropical Peruvian Andes Mountains by Ohio State University scientists may shed light on a mysterious global climate change they believe occurred more than 5,000 years ago.

They hope that ice cores retrieved from two tropical ice caps there, as well as ancient plants retrieved from beneath the retreating glaciers, may contain clues that could link ancient events that changed daily life in South America, Europe and Asia.

Something happened 5,200 years ago that was abrupt and very large-scale, explained Lonnie Thompson, professor of geological sciences at Ohio State and researcher with the Byrd Polar Research Center.

As snow falls on these ice caps and is packed tightly over time, it forms stratigraphic layers indicating annual accumulations. Researchers can estimate the age of a core by counting these layers just as biologists date forests by counting tree rings.

In September, Thompson and his team returned from drilling ice cores from glaciers atop two peaks in Peru. They drilled three cores from Nevado Coropuna, a 6,425-meter (21,074-foot) extinct volcano in the Cordillera Occidental of the Andes in Southern Peru. Two of the cores were drilled at the crater rim and measured just over 34 meters (111.5 feet).

Based on our counting layers in the core at the drill site, we believe the shorter cores might date back at least 300 years, Thompson said.

The third core from coropuna was drilled directly over the crater at the mountains summit and measured 146.3 meters (479 feet). This core will likely provide the first annually resolved climate history for this region over at least the last 2,000 years.

There is a possibility that this core could contain glacial stage ice, he suspects, which could date it back more than 10,000 years.
These cores should provide a critical piece of the puzzle needed to understand climate variability in this region, Thompson said.

Coropuna is located on the first rise of the Andes, right above the Pacific Ocean, so the ice cores should record changes in the El Nino-La Nina cycle, a key component of climate variability.

Approximately 270 miles (434 kilometers) north and east of Coropuna lies the Quelccaya ice cap, a site that Thompson and his team have visited at least 18 times in the last few decades.

During this expedition, they drilled two cores from a new site on the north dome of the ice cap. They hope that the cores, measuring 128.6 meters (422 feet), will unveil an annual record of climate in this region dating back at least 1,000 years. At the ice cap summit, the team also retrieved a 168.7-meter (553-foot) core to bedrock that is expected to yield an annual record covering more than 2,000 years that will give them a high-resolution record of climatic and environmental conditions.

The deep core at the Coropuna crater site yielded other surprises. They found the body of a small insect, perfectly preserved and frozen in the ice 64 meters (210 feet) below the surface and three individual plant fragments retrieved from the 117-meter (384-foot) level in the core.

These finds are important since they will allow us to independently date the core at these levels using a different process, Thompson said. Both the insect and the plant material were probably carried from the Altiplano below to the summit site by thunderstorm winds.

In 2002, Thompsons team made a surprising find along the margin of the Quelccaya ice cap a remarkably preserved wetland plant that had been remarkably preserved under the ice. Later testing yielded viable DNA from the plant and dated it back 5,200 years ago.

Researchers found a plant deposit this year, revealed when the margin of the Quelccaya Ice Cap retreated. It was the second such find in the last two years.

This is a soft-bodied plant, he said. It had to be captured by a very large snowfall at the time, a snowfall and climate change that began very abruptly fast enough to capture a plant but not kill it. That is astounding.

We know the first plant could not have been exposed at any time during in that 5,200-year history or it would have decayed, he said.
This year, the researchers found a second plant near the southern tip of the ice field, some 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) south of their original plant find. Thompson believes that this second plant may provide important historical information about this site.

Subsequent carbon dating of the second plant showed that it had been buried for the last 2,200 years, a time when other records showed another abrupt climate change.

The size of the ice caps in this region is a vital key in understanding questions about global climate change. Since he first started monitoring Quelccaya, Thompson said the ice cap has been retreating exponentially.

When we started surveying in 1963, Quelccaya was retreating at a rate of 4.7 meters (15.4 feet) each year, he said. In more recent years, the rate of retreat has increased to as much as 205 meters (672 feet) annually more than 40 times as fast!

Thompson calls Quelccaya, the largest of all the tropical ice caps, the poster child for tropical glaciers. At least 70 percent of all tropical ice on the planet is trapped in Peruvian ice fields and glaciers. The annual melt from these ice packs provides drinking water and irrigation for millions of people, as well as refilling reservoirs that feed hydroelectric dams.

Thompson and his research team are in a race against time to retrieve cores from these ice caps in order to preserve the thousands of years of climatic history trapped inside. And at the top of their agenda is solving the puzzle of what occurred 5,200 years ago.

We know the climate was different then. Before that, the proportion of warm water flowing off the coast of Peru was much greater, he said, a key factor in fueling the El Nino/La Nina climate events affecting this part of the globe.

We know that the Ice Man, a preserved Neolithic hunter exposed by a retreating glacier in the European Alps, was trapped by the ice around 5,200 years ago, he said, and that had to occur very abruptly.

Earlier work by the Ohio State team on ice cores taken from Tanzanias Mount Kilimanjaro ice fields showed that a catastrophic drought had devastated the tropics around 5,200 years ago, a period of time when anthropologists believe THAT many people abandoned a nomadic lifestyle to form cities and social structures.

Those changes came abruptly and we know very little about abrupt climate change in the tropics.

If it happened in the past, it might happen again, he warned, and that type of abrupt event in todays world would mean worldwide chaos, both economically and socially. Today, 70 percent of the worlds 6.3 billion people live in the tropics.

This research is supported in part by the National Science Foundation, the Comer Foundation and Ohio State University.

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

=========== LETTERS ===========


Jens Kieffer-Olsen <>

Dear Benny Peiser,

Thanks for bringing the excellent testimony by Dr. Spudis
in CCNet 100/2003.

Although it's hard to disagree with his and Dr. Stone's joint
thinking, a few comments may be in place.

> (3) Other possible destinations for people in space are
> perceived to be either too uninteresting (asteroids) or too
> arcane (telescopes in deep space) to enjoy "widespread"
> national support.

Asteroids are NOT perceived to be uninteresting, judging
from the newspaper headlines whenever a 'virtual impact'
is reported.

But they are fleeting targets, so either a visit must be brief,
or the sojourn should last until the asteroid's next close
encounter with Earth. The former approach would permit
the installation ( or servicing ) of instruments to be taken
around the solar system with the asteroid, whereas the
technology needed for the latter would bridge the gap
between dwelling on the Moon and travelling to Mars.    

> Among other possible space destinations for people are the
> Lagranian (L-) points (imaginary spots in space that move in
> sync with Earth, Moon, Sun or other objects) and the minor
> planets, better known as asteroids. The Lagranian points have
> many advantages for the staging of missions that go
> elsewhere, but the only thing they contain is what we put
> there.  In that sense, they are similar to low Earth orbit
> and significant activity at the L-points, without travel
> beyond them to more interesting destinations, would resemble
> another International Space Station put in a different
> location.

The roadmap to the Moon subsequently outlined  makes
extensive use of the L1 Lagrangian point as a staging post.
It's hard to imagine that it's not justified to build a crewed
Space Station there.  It could be built of the same components
as used for the ISS.


> On return, the L1 depot provides a safe haven for the crew
> while they wait several days for the orbital plane of ISS to
> align itself with the return path of the crew vehicle.

Protagonists for an early Journey to Mars argue that many
would be willing to embark from Earth and settle on Mars
on a one-way ticket, supposing regular supplies were being

Since it's much easier to drop supplies near a precise location
on the Moon than on Mars, I wonder whether in the early
stages ( until the L1 Space station and associated infrastructure
is in place ) the ticket should be seen as 'open', that is with a
return date to be decided, and possibly several years away?

Yours sincerely
Jens Kieffer-Olsen, M.Sc.(Elec.Eng.)
Slagelse, Denmark


Vera Assis Fernandes <>

Dear Dr. Peiser,

I have just received via email, yesterday's debate at the US Senate: "THE WAY AHEAD: SOLAR
Dr. Criswell and Dr. Angel. I am a lunar scientist who is rather concerned with what was
debated yesterday.

I only have a question that if you have any means to put is a list, I would very much
appreciate it: Why do people forcing the idea that Humans should go and explore the lunar
resources to fulfill Humans need on Energy, forget to ask themselves whether the present
requirements by the "westernized" part of the world of energy are the role model for the
future of the world?

Why shouldn't we think instead of dimishing to what is really necessary? Presently, there is
more waste of energy rather then its efficient use, thus the going to the Moon and exploit her
resources should not be the answer. The answer should be those Humans living in societies that
overuse and waste energy to question themselves what is the REAL necessity?  not what is the
GREED and wanting to waste more? Why are we perpetuating the mess we have done here on Earth,
to now carrying it on to the Moon without even being alb to correct the problems here? It is
so arrogant to think the Moon is ours to use it! There maybe other beings claiming it as well,
for exemple! If one considers, those presenting their case at the US-Senate yesterday, are US
citizens, and in general, USA is viewed as the most wasting country, thus I wonder why not
think of alternatives.

Thanking you for considering the present message,
Best Regards,
Vera A. Fernandes

Vera Assis Fernandes          Tel.: 00 351 (23) 979-3427(0)
Post-Doc                            Fax: 00 351 (23) 979-3428
Instituto Geofísico               [and sometimes at: Dept. of Earth Sciences
Universidade de Coimbra                                 University of Manchester]
R. Dr. Dias da Silva
3000 Coimbra                         


China Valley <>

Dear Mr Peiser;

I have followed the arguments pro and con on early notification of potential impactors.
Why couldn't an identifier such as Preliminary, or even a letter code such as T or X be used
for those situations where the basis for the evaluation is a short time frame like 1 night
to 1 week? This would tip off the public that more data will provide a far better estimate
                    Paul Burnham  
                    Chino Valley, AZ


Matt Terry <>


Clube and Napier have suggested that passage of the Sun through denser than average regions of the Galaxy, such as molecular clouds (the remnants of the one we currently inhabit is called Gould's Belt), and as is also presently the case, when nearest the extremes of it's orbital parameters (height above/below the plane and crossing the plane, proximity to spiral arm, and perigalacticon) would serve to inundate the inner solar system with cometary bodies, some of which are likely to be of a proportion unseen by scientists, (except those of the keenest perception.)  This process takes time, on the order of 1 to 3 million years after the maximum stress on the Oort cloud, and/or gravitational acquisition of interstellar cometary material, to reach the inner solar system, and a subsequent similar scale for the inevitable disintegration of these super-massive bodies into a huge swarm of smaller comets. The Kreutz Group of sungrazers is one such presently observed swarm, which fortunately intersects only our intellect, not our planet. 

I note that two million years is approximately the time between the beginning of the Deccan traps volcanism and the K/T impactor, and so I would propose to the geologists this question: Speculating that the Deccan event could have been antipodal to a very large impactor, has anyone investigated the location which lay opposite India in the late Permian? Does that site even exist today, or has it been subducted or otherwise erased?  If still extant, it would seem a likely plausible candidate region for a crater search.

I think it should here be pointed out that the planet of impact need not be the one to cause the fragmentation: the Sun does a fine job of disassociating comets, as SOHO has revealed. Earth only need be in the right place at the wrong time.  I'd like to correct another misimpression: comets fragment much more readily than do asteroids, and so discussion of multiple impact scenarios should reflect the much greater likelyhood of such bodies being not asteroids but comets, which ice balls are, especially if cosmogenic, very different from the rocky and metallic (Metallica Rocks!) asteroids. (Like everything else in astronomy, there is a continuum of creation bridging comets and asteroids, but the number of such directly related objects is relatively small, although those in the Taurid meteor stream, other Apollo asteroids, and extinct comet cores could still hit hard enough to finish all but the hardiest of us off.)

   Matt Terry
   Tampa, FL


Ed Grondine <>

Hello Benny -

A team at Ohio State University is gathering field data which appears to
confirm a climatic collapse associated with the ca. 3114 BCE encounter with
Comet Encke:

The Ohio State University team works under Dr Lonnie Thompson, with
financial support coming from the United States' National Science Foundation
and the Comer Foundation. Dr Thompson's  teams' new ice cores from
Quelcoro, Peru agree well with their earlier ice cores from Mount
Kilmanjaro, Tanzania in showing a climate collapse ca. 3200 BCE, with dating
determined by radio carbon dating techniques.  Given tis accuracy, these
radio carbon dates agree well with the absolute dates given by the Maya:


16 June, 3122 BCE - The First Maize Revealer Partitioner is born
7 December, 3121 BCE - Birth of Lady White (?)
13 August, 3114 BCE - Image made visible at Closed Sky, the First Three
Stone Place;
Event for The First Maize Revealed Partitioner
5 February, 3112 BCE - The First Maize Revealed Partitioner enters the sky,
Prepared/Dedicated the Raised Up Sky Place in the North
Set in motion the Raised Up Sky Heart

As well as with the estimated dates for Egyptian records relating to this

Personally, this new data is quite comforting, as it shows that these
ancient written sources are sufficiently well understood to be used.  I
suppose it's unnecessary to state my bias here, but hopefully new
confirmatory data from other sources and using other methods will be showing
up shortly.

All the best,


Theresa Cooper <>


Richard Hoover of the NASA Marshall Field Space Flight Centre will be
addressing a special meeting of Cardiff Astronomical Society on Tuesday
9th Dec at 7.30 pm Department of Physics and Astronomy, The Parade,
Cardiff University. He will be presenting a talk on micro fossils in

All welcome,

Many thanks, Theresa.
Theresa Cooper

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