CCNet 127/2001 - 30 November 2001

I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps
I don't know why nobody told you how to unfold your love
I don't know how someone controlled you
They bought and sold you.

I look at the world and I notice it's turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps
I don't know how you were diverted
You were perverted too
I don't know how you were inverted
No one alerted you.

I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
Look at you all . . .
Still my guitar gently weeps.

--George Harrison (1943 - 2001)

"Indeed, the 1990s were filled with some of the closest near-misses,
relatively speaking, ever. Of 18 asteroid approaches documented, dating
back to 1937, 12 of them took place during Bill Clinton's presidency.
(Blame Monica.) Odds are, we have nothing to worry about. But odds,
like the times in which we live, have a way of changing."
--Jory John, Onion Online, 28 November 2001

    NASA Science News for November 30, 2001

    Josep Maria Trigo i Rodríguez <>

    NASA News, 29 November 2001 <>

    Ron Baalke <>

    Mark Hess  <

    Edwards, Michelle R. <>

    S. Fred Singer <>

    Jonathan Tate <>

    Duncan A. Lunan <>

     Phillip Clapham <>

     Worth Crouch <>

     Onion Online, 28 November 2001


NASA Science News for November 30, 2001

Explosions on the Moon

During the 2001 Leonid meteor storm, astronomers observed a curious flash on
the Moon -- a telltale sign of meteoroids hitting the lunar surface and
November 30, 2001: Vivid, colorful streaks of light. A ghostly flash.
Strange crackling noises and twisting smoky trails. Add to those a cup of
hot cocoa, and you have all the ingredients for a delightful meteor shower
... on Earth.

The recent Leonids were a good example. On Nov. 18th our planet plunged into
a debris cloud shed by comet Tempel-Tuttle. Sky watchers saw thousands of
meteors -- each streak of light a tiny bit of comet dust disintegrating in
the atmosphere.

A quarter of a million miles away, another Leonid shower was happening. But
the recipe was different: Blinding flashes of light. Flying debris and
molten rock. Sizzling craters. And certainly no hot cocoa! That's what the
Leonids were like ... on the Moon.

"Like Earth, the Moon also plowed through comet Tempel-Tuttle's debris field
on Nov. 18th," says Bill Cooke of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.
But, unlike Earth, the Moon doesn't have an atmosphere where meteoroids
harmlessly disintegrate." Instead, lunar Leonids hit the ground and explode.

David Palmer, an astrophysicist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, saw
just such an explosion from his backyard in White Rock, New Mexico. The 2001
Leonids were well underway when Palmer trained his 5-inch Celestron
telescope and a low light video camera on the crescent Moon. "It was
twilight," says Palmer. "Even so, the flash was bright enough to detect." He
had spotted a Leonid crashing down near Sinus Media -- a lava plain on the
lunar equator.

Far from New Mexico, observers on the east coast of the United States saw
it, too. Using 8 inch telescopes equipped with video cameras, David Dunham
in Maryland and Tony Cook in Virginia independently recorded the flash -- a
double confirmation. "We estimate it was at least as bright as a 4th
magnitude star," says Dunham, director of the International Occultation
Timing Association.

This marks the second year Dunham and Palmer have seen lunar Leonids. They
and others video-recorded six meteoroid impacts on the Moon during the 1999
Leonid meteor storm. The brightness of those flashes ranged from 7th to 3rd

"Actually, we've known for many years that Leonids hit the Moon," notes
Cooke. "Between 1970 and 1977, Apollo seismic stations detected impacts
during the Leonids and several other annual meteor showers. What's new since
1999 is that we're actually seeing the explosions from Earth."

The first reports of bright lunar Leonids two years ago puzzled many
scientists. Their calculations suggested that a Leonid hitting the Moon
would need to mass hundreds of kilograms to produce an explosion visible
through backyard telescopes. Yet there was little evidence for such massive
fragments in the Leonid debris stream. Hundred-kilogram meteoroids hitting
Earth's atmosphere would produce sensational fireballs, brighter than any
sky watchers actually saw. Furthermore, lunar seismic stations operating for
years had detected nothing larger than 50 kg.

To solve the mystery, Jay Melosh, a planetary scientist at the University of
Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Lab and an expert on planetary impact
cratering, teamed up with Ivan Nemtchinov, a Russian physicist skilled in
computer simulations of nuclear explosions.

Experience with bombs came in handy solving this problem, says Melosh:
"Leonid impacts aren't as potent as a nuclear warhead, but they are
powerful. They hit the Moon traveling 72 km/s or 160,000 mph -- that's 240
times faster than a rifle bullet. In fact, the energy per unit mass in a
Leonid strike is 10,000 times greater than a blast of TNT."

Using computer programs designed to study bomb blasts, Melosh and Nemtchinov
discovered that Leonids didn't have to be so massive to produce flashes as
bright as those detected by Dunham and Palmer. Impactors massing only 1 to
10 kg could do the job.

"That's more like it," says Cooke. "We occasionally see kg-sized fragments
burning up in Earth's atmosphere. They appear as very bright fireballs that
disintegrate completely before hitting the ground." On the Moon, of course,
there's nothing to stop them from reaching the surface.

According to Melosh, here's what happens when the Moon and a 10 kg Leonid

Much of the ground within a few meters of the impact point would be
vaporized, and a cloud of molten rock would billow out of a growing crater.
"At first the cloud would be opaque and very hot, between 50,000 K and
100,000 K," explains Melosh. "But the temperature would drop rapidly.
Milliseconds after the initial blast, the cloud would expand to a few meters
in diameter and cool to 13,000 K. That's the critical moment," he says,
"when the vapor becomes optically thin (transparent); then, all the photons
rush out and we can see a flash of light from Earth."

An astronaut watching the event on the Moon, perhaps a hundred meters or so
from the impact, would be momentarily blinded by the Sun-bright explosion.
There wouldn't be a deafening report, however, and onlookers wouldn't be
knocked down. "There's no air on the Moon to carry shock waves," explains
Melosh. "Even so, you might have to pry some nasty bits of molten rock out
of your space suit."

Fortunately for future Moon colonists, there's little chance of being hit.
Cooke explains: "During an intense Leonid meteor storm like the one Earth
experienced in 1966, the lunar flux of meteoroids more massive than 10-5 gm
would be 1 per square-km per hour. If we assume really chubby or bulky
astronauts with a cross-sectional area of 0.5 square-meters, then the
probability of being hit by a 10-5 gm Leonid is only 0.00025." Such tiny
particles carry enough energy to puncture a spacesuit, but the astronaut
inside would remain mostly intact, says Cooke. "The probability of being hit
by something that might totally vaporize you -- like a 10 kg fragment -- is
a billion times less."

So ... lunar Leonid meteoroid showers might not be as scary as they sound.
Future denizens of the Moon might even take up a new astronomical hobby:
ground watching. "I saw a hundred puffs of moondust every hour," they might
say after a good spate of Leonids. "And, ooh that fireball ... what a


>From Josep Maria Trigo i Rodríguez <>

Dear Benny,

We attach below information about a new Leonid contribution from researchers
of the Spanish Fireball and Meteor Network. Our paper has been published in
the December 2001 issue of "Meteoritics & Planetary Science".

Please receive our congratulations for your interesting CNNet.

Josep Mª Trigo-Rodriguez 1,2,
Juan Fabregat2
and Jordi Llorca3,4

1 Depto. Ciencies Experimentals, Universitat Jaume I.
2 Departament Astronomia i Astrofisica, Universitat de Valencia.
3 Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya.
4 Departament Química Inorgànica, Universitat de Barcelona.

The interest of our detailed 1994-1998 analysis of the Leonids activity
focuses in the reconstruction of the stream spatial structure during this
cometary return. We have combined 40 independent ZHR determinations obtained
in the last two centuries with their corresponding orbital geometry.
Initially we placed all ZHR points and the software apply a precise
numerical contorning technique to define the averaged density of the Leonid
stream. We use historical observations obtained after the 1800 return and
the ZHR determinations revised by several authors (see for more details
historical ZHRs revisions Jenniskens 1996; Brown, 1999). The result is one
figure that shows an averaged contour plot with the corresponding Log (ZHR)

We inclose below the abstract. For more details please consult Meteoritics

ABSTRACT: The Leonid shower was observed in November 1998 worldwide in an
intensive campaign without precedent. During this international effort near
35,500 meteors were reported by members and collaborators of the
International Meteor Organization (IMO) using a standard methodology.
Despite the absence of a meteor storm in 1998, the rich observational data
allows to obtain a detailed unprecedented knowledge of the stream structure
between 1994-1998.

Josep M. Trigo-Rodríguez
Prof. Dept. Experimental Sciences
Campus del Riu Sec (E.S.T.C.E)
University Jaume I
12071 Castelló (SPAIN)


>From NASA News, 29 November 2001 <>

Donald Savage
Headquarters, Washington                 Nov. 29, 2001
(Phone: 202/358-1547)

RELEASE: 01-235


NASA has selected a proposal to proceed with Phase B (preliminary design
studies) for a Pluto-Kuiper Belt (PKB) mission, intended to explore the most
distant planet in the solar system. The mission will also explore the Kuiper
Belt beyond Pluto, a source of comets and believed to be the
source of much of Earth's water and the simple chemical precursors of life.

The scientific value of this mission is highly dependent on a 2006 launch
that achieves a flyby of Pluto well before 2020. In order to ensure this
launch date, NASA has established two
conditions that must be successfully met at the conclusion of Phase B.

First, the mission must pass a confirmation review that will address
significant risks such as schedule and technical milestones and regulatory
approval for launch of the mission's nuclear power source. Second, funds
must be available. Congress provided $30 million in fiscal 2002 to initiate
PKB spacecraft and science instrument development and launch vehicle
procurement; however, no funding for subsequent years is included in the
administration's budget plan.

The mission, called New Horizons: Shedding Light on Frontier Worlds, is led
by Principal Investigator Dr. S. Alan Stern of the Southwest Research
Institute, Boulder, Colo. He will lead a team including The Johns Hopkins
University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.; Ball Aerospace Corp.,
Boulder, Colo.; Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.; and NASA's Goddard
Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., and Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, Calif.

"Both proposals were outstanding, but New Horizons represented the best
science at Pluto and the Kuiper Belt as well as the best plan to bring the
spacecraft to the launch pad on time and within budget," said Dr. Ed Weiler,
Associate Administrator for Space Science at NASA Headquarters, Washington.
Each team conducted a three-month concept study including management,
science content, technical aspects, cost and schedule for a complete
mission, including launch vehicle, spacecraft and science instrument

The proposal outlines how the team would undertake the major science
objectives defined in the January 2001 Announcement of Opportunity. The
spacecraft would use a remote sensing
package that includes imaging instruments and a radio science investigation,
as well as spectroscopic and other experiments, to characterize the global
geology and morphology of Pluto and its moon Charon, map their surface
composition and characterize Pluto's neutral atmosphere and its escape rate.

Pluto, the smallest planet, is actually a Kuiper Belt Object, a class of
objects composed of material left over after the formation of the other
planets. Pluto has large quantities of ices of nitrogen and simple molecules
containing carbon, hydrogen and oxygen that are the necessary precursors of
life. Given Pluto's weak gravity, these ices would be largely lost to space
if Pluto had come close to the Sun. Instead they remain there as a
representative sample of the primordial material that set the stage for the
evolution of the solar system as it exists today, including life.

"Visiting Pluto and other Kuiper Belt objects would be like visiting a deep
freeze containing samples of the most ancient material in our solar system,
the stuff that all the other planets including Earth were made of," said Dr.
Colleen Hartman, Solar System Exploration Director in NASA's Office of Space
Science. "But the most exciting thing about going to an unexplored planet is
what we may find there that we're not expecting."

NASA will work with Dr. Stern to further define the costs and to finalize
the design of the spacecraft and its accommodation of the instrument sets.
Stern, as Principal Investigator, bringing together teams from academia,
industry and NASA centers, will lead the PKB mission. It will be implemented
following the highly successful management model of NASA's Discovery


>From Ron Baalke <>

PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011

Contact:  Martha J. Heil 818/354-0850
IMAGE ADVISORY                            November 29, 2001


NASA scientists have strung together images of comet Borrelly to produce
short movies of the comet as it travels through space. 

In one clip, the bare, rocky, icy nucleus wobbles back and forth to reveal
its textured surface, with some smooth and some bumpy landscapes. The
observations were taken when NASA's Deep Space 1 spacecraft was between
3,700 and 9,500 kilometers (between 2,300 and 5,900 miles) from the comet in
September 2001.

In the second clip, jets of gas and dust shoot from all sides of the comet's
nucleus as it rotates a quarter turn. The biggest jet, shooting from the
central sunlit part of the
comet, is probably in line with the axis around which the nucleus rotates.
This large jet is eroding the central part of the comet, smoothing parts of
the terrain into rolling
hills. The erosion will eventually break the comet into pieces. Coarsely
textured parts of the comet at both ends are geologically inactive areas.
These images were taken from between 22,500 and 4,980 kilometers (about
14,000 to 3,000 miles) away.

The images are available online from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, Calif., at .

NASA TV will broadcast a video file of the comet movies at 12, 3, 6 and 9
p.m. EST Thursday, Nov. 29. NASA TV is located on satellite GE2, Transponder
9C, audio 3880 MHz; orbital position 85 degrees west longitude, with audio
at 6.8 MHz.

Scientists are studying these images and other Deep Space 1 data for a
better understanding of comets and their role in the solar system. Deep
Space 1's pass through comet Borrelly's surrounding cloud of gas and dust
yielded the best pictures ever of a comet's rocky, icy nucleus. The images
appear to show the comet rotating but it is actually the spacecraft that
changed position as it passed close to the comet's nucleus.

Deep Space 1 completed its primary mission testing ion propulsion and 11
other advanced, high-risk technologies in September 1999. NASA extended the
mission, taking advantage of the ion propulsion and other systems to
undertake this chancy but exciting, and ultimately successful encounter.
More information is available on the home page at .

Deep Space 1 was launched in October 1998 as part of NASA's New Millennium
Program, which is managed by JPL for NASA's Office of Space Science,
Washington, D.C. The California Institute of Technology manages JPL for

Image credit: NASA/JPL


>From Mark Hess  <

William Steigerwald                        
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center              November 29, 2001
Phone: 301/286-5017                  

RELEASE NO: 01-109


Although covered by frozen deserts today, Mars could have been born with
more water in proportion to its mass than the Earth, according to new
observations from NASA's Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE)

The new research is the first detection of molecular hydrogen (H2) in the
upper atmosphere of Mars. Molecular hydrogen, which consists of two hydrogen
atoms, can be formed from the breakup of water, which is comprised of two
hydrogen atoms bound to an oxygen atom (H2O).

With the result, Dr. Vladimir Krasnopolsky of the Catholic University of
America, Washington, D.C., and Dr. Paul Feldman of the Johns Hopkins
University, Baltimore, MD, were able to derive the quantity of Martian water
lost to space and estimate the amount of water Mars had shortly after its

"Our result is an important clue to reconstruct the history of Martian
water, because with it and other results, we can estimate the volume of
primordial Martian oceans," said Krasnopolsky, who is lead author of a paper
on the research to be published in the November 30 issue of the journal

"We calculate that if the initial quantity of water on Mars could have been
evenly distributed across the planet somehow, it would have been equivalent
to a global Martian ocean at least three-quarters of a mile (1.25
kilometers) deep. This is 1.3 times more water per mass than the Earth." An
ancient ocean could have covered most of the northern hemisphere of Mars,
which is a vast basin according to a topographic survey by NASA's Mars
Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft.

Mars is a mystery because it has features, such as those resembling dry
riverbeds, that imply it was quite wet in its past. Since Mars is apparently
so dry now, a primary goal of NASA's Mars exploration program is to
determine what happened to all that water and discover how much remains.
Understanding the history of Martian water is of interest because liquid
water is required to support known forms of life. With such a history,
scientists will learn if Mars was once capable of supporting life.

Ultraviolet radiation from the Sun energizes H2 molecules in the Martian
upper atmosphere, causing them to glow with ultraviolet light as well.
Krasnopolsky and Feldman determined the quantity of H2 molecules present
(only about 15 parts per million) from the intensity of their faint
ultraviolet emission as recorded by the advanced detectors on FUSE.

They compared the amount of H2 to the amount of deuterium in the Martian
atmosphere, obtained from a 1997 observation by Krasnopolsky using the
Hubble Space Telescope. Deuterium is a form of hydrogen made heavier due to
the presence of a neutron in its nucleus. Like hydrogen, deuterium can link
to an oxygen atom and another hydrogen atom to form water, which in this
case is called "heavy water" due to the inclusion of the more massive
deuterium atom (HDO).

Both forms of water are broken down by solar ultraviolet radiation and form
some quantities of H2 and HD, respectively. H2 and HD rise high in the
Martian atmosphere where they may be broken down to their component atoms by
chemical reactions. Due to their random thermal (temperature-related)
motion, collisions with energetic particles, and chemical reactions, a
certain percentage of H and D atoms, and H2 and HD molecules, will have
enough velocity to escape the pull of Mars's gravity, so Mars gradually
loses its hydrogen and deuterium to space. Hydrogen loss (or deuterium loss)
equates to water loss because the atoms are no longer available to recombine
and form water in the Martian atmosphere.

Since deuterium is heavier than hydrogen, less deuterium will escape because
it takes more energy to get it moving at the necessary speed. By measuring
the amounts of deuterium and molecular hydrogen in the Martian atmosphere,
the team discovered the degree to which deuterium is preferentially left
behind, called the fractionation factor.

Because deuterium is left behind more often, the portion of Martian water
that is heavy water rises over time. In fact, earlier measurements revealed
that Martian water is 5.5 times richer in heavy water than the water on

Scientists assume that the Earth and Mars were created with the same initial
proportions of heavy water and normal water, called the D to H ratio. If
this is correct, once the rate at which deuterium builds up - determined
using the fractionation factor - is known, they can work backwards to
determine how much additional water would be required to dilute the current
Martian water so that its D to H ratio is the same as Earth's.

However, this requires that the current amount of water on Mars be known.
Mars is a frigid world, so most of its water is ice. The team used
measurements of the volume of the Martian polar caps by the MGS spacecraft
for an estimate of the water remaining on Mars today. Additional water may
remain frozen in the Martian soil, but this quantity is unknown. However,
any water found there only increases the current amount of
deuterium-enriched Martian water, which will require an even larger
primordial supply to dilute it to an Earth-like level.

The team could calculate backward for as long as the fractionation factor
can be applied, which extends to a period about 3.6 billion years ago. Prior
to that, the Martian surface was a lot warmer due to heat left over from
Mars's formation, and much of the water was in vapor form. This permitted a
much greater quantity of water to escape Mars via a different process called
hydrodynamic escape.

Other researchers previously determined the D to H ratio for Martian water
at the end of the hydrodynamic escape period some 3.6 billion years ago by
deriving it from the analysis of the D to H ratio in Martian meteorites.
Using the derived ratio for the end of hydrodynamic escape, Krasnopolsky and
Feldman calculate that the amount of water required to dilute the D to H
ratio in the current Martian water supply so that it matches the D to H
ratio of that earlier era is equivalent to a global ocean 100 feet (about 30
meters) deep.

Adding a 30-meter global Martian ocean to the current supply gives the
estimated water remaining on Mars after the hydrodynamic escape period.
Since the Martian D to H ratio at the end of the hydrodynamic escape era is
still higher than the terrestrial ratio, the team calculated that a much
larger volume of water would have been required to dilute the Martian water
supply at the end of hydrodynamic escape so that it matched the D to H ratio
in Earth's water. It is this final calculation that yields such an abundant
estimate of the water present on Mars shortly after its formation about 4.5
billion years ago.

For an image and more information, refer to:


>From Edwards, Michelle R. <>

Media Contact:                                                 October 24,
William Harms                                                      NSF PR
(703) 292-8070/

Program Contact:
Pat White
(703) 292-8762/

                Confidence levels at 30-year high

Americans responded with resilience to the events of Sept. 11, registering
large increases in their feelings of national pride, confidence in many
institutions, and faith in people, according to the National Tragedy Study
by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

The study, publicly funded by the National Science Foundation, and privately
by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Russell Sage Foundation, also
contrasted public response to Sept. 11 with response to the 1963 assassination of
President John F. Kennedy (also studied by NORC).  People reported a large drop in their
normally positive feelings toward life after the Kennedy assassination, but
reported few similar responses after Sept. 11, Smith found.

"Emotionally, Kennedy's assassination seems to have had a larger impact on
psychological well being than the terrorist attacks," said Tom W. Smith,
Director of the General Social Survey (GSS) at NORC and co-author of a
report on the findings, "America Rebounds: A National Study of Public
Responses to the September 11 Terrorist Attacks."

Researchers found a much stronger feeling of anger after the Sept. 11
attacks than after the 1963 assassination. In 1963, people reported feeling
ashamed as well as angry; however, feeling ashamed was not a strong response
to the terrorist attacks.

The study, which measured a wide range of attitudes and included an over
sample (special survey) for New York, was based on random telephone calls to
more than 2,100 U.S. residents in the two weeks following Sept. 11. The results
were compared with similar questions asked recently on the GSS, a continuing
study of American values, attitudes and behaviors on a wide variety of subjects. 
The GSS provides a baseline for American opinions and is used extensively by
social scientists to chart and study changes in public perceptions.

"We found, with the exceptions of New Yorkers, that Americans appear to have
had weaker physical reactions to the recent national tragedy than to the
Kennedy assassination," said Kenneth Rasinski, a co-author of the report and
senior research scientist at NORC. For instance, 68 percent of people felt
very nervous and upset as a result the 1963 tragedy, compared with 51
percent in 2001.  While 57 percent of the people reported feeling dazed and
numb in 1963, 46 percent had a similar response in 2001.  In contrast, 60
percent of the people in 2001 reported crying, compared to 53 percent in

Researchers asked about 15 physical and emotional symptoms and found 11 of
these symptoms were reported by a significantly higher proportion of New
York City residents than by the rest of the nation.  According to Rasinski,
New Yorkers were more likely to have felt very nervous and tense, cried, had
trouble getting to sleep, not felt like eating, felt more tired than usual,
had rapid heartbeats or headaches, lost their temper more than usual, had
sweaty and clammy hands, felt dizzy at times, and felt like getting drunk.

Among the findings contrasting post-Sept. 11 attitudes with earlier General
Social Surveys:

· Increased faith in fellow citizens. 67 percent (up 21 percentage points)
said that most people are helpful, and 63 percent (up 12 percentage points)
said that they felt people in general are fair.

· Increased confidence in selected institutions. 77 percent (up 27
percentage points) had a great deal of confidence in the military, compared
with 61 percent in 1991 during the Gulf War.
Confidence in the executive branch tripled to 52 percent. People also
expressed more confidence in organized religion, corporations and Congress.
This was the highest confidence level in these areas in nearly three

· Increased feelings of national pride. 97 percent (up 7 percentage points)
felt they felt they would rather be citizens of the U.S. than of any other

Other findings of the National Tragedy Study:

· Stronger reactions in New York. Residents of New York were more likely
than the nation as a whole to report feeling very nervous and tense. They
also reported crying more often.

· Positive action.  49 percent made contributions to charities, and 24
percent donated or tried to donate blood.

Other findings comparing the Sept. 11 attacks to the 1963 assassination:

· More prayer. 84 percent reporting saying "special prayers," compared with
75 percent in 1963.

· Television as a key source. 37 percent first learned of the Sept. 11
events from television, while 24 percent learned of the 1963 tragedy that
way.  In 1963, 36 percent learned of the assassination by personal contact;
in 2001, 15 percent learned it that way.

Attachment: For the explanatory charts see:



>From S. Fred Singer <>

Dear Benny

Apropos the asteroid studies reported in SciAm (Nov. 27) and in the Nov 23
issue of Science, I have three comments:

1. The asteroids created in the breakup should preserve (through their
rotation) the angular momentum of the parent body (plus impactor -- if
created that way-- or as an exploding planet - -- a la van Flandern). It
would be interesting to see if the data allow sufficient discrimination.

2. We next come to the formation of asteroidal satellites (or binary
asteroids). This would be quite common if there is complete disintegration
of the parent body (van Flandern, Michel) and relatively rare if only a
small fraction of the parent creates asteroids in an impact.  Observations
may help in deciding (Chapman, Merline).

3.  Finally, in interpreting the data, we must consider the lifetime T of an
asteroidal satellite.  I have analyzed this stability problem and concluded
that  T will be quite short if the satellite's orbital period is less than
the rotation period of the asteroid -- and vice versa.  This result holds
whether the orbit is prograde or retrograde and does not
depend on tidal interaction (which, while present, should be of lesser

I will try to publish these results soon.

Best              Fred


>From Jonathan Tate <>

Andy Smith made some very good points in his recent posting.

In Britain we are only frustrated by the lack of government action. The
scientific community in the UK is coming round nicely - witness the
developing Atlas project. Patience and fortitude are precisely what we have
been showing (surprisingly) over the past six or seven years, and it's
paying off.

The Spaceguard Centre is in the process of setting up the Spaceguard Network
that will, initially, be a national network of information nodes. We have
already begun to spread to the international arena, with interested parties
in 12 countries so far (and we have Spaceguard UK members in 11 more),
including the US where "The Watch" is the most active non-professional
advocate of NEO studies. All of this will eventually link into the global
network under the auspices of the Spaceguard Foundation to produce an
international mouthpiece that is supported by individual national
organisations worldwide. The CCNet  will obviously have a major part to play
in this process.

In the UK he already have the politicians engaged (stand-by!), but that is
not the end of the problem. It is the people who pay the politicians who
have to want things to happen - the public.

Jay Tate


>From Duncan A. Lunan <>

Dear Benny,

Apropos of possible descriptions of impact events c.2350 BC, there is a
passage in the Bible which may be historically older than the Genesis
account of the Flood, which seems to be a watered-down version (as it were)
of the Mesopotamian one.

In Psalm 18, after David calls to God for help, this is what happens:

"Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the
hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke
out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured:  coals were
kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down:  and darkness
was under his feet. And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly:  yea, he did fly
upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion
round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. At
the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and
coals of fire. The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave
his voice: hail stones and coals of fire. Yea, he sent out his arrows, and
scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them. Then the
channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were
discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath from thy

Very figurative, but maybe a folk memory?

Best wishes,
Duncan Lunan.


>From  Phillip  Clapham  < >

Reply to Duncan Steel regards Silbury Hill as a pyramidal design inspired by
the zodiacal lights. 

I can see how he arrived at this conclusion and I accept the pyramids of
Egypt and central America may have been inspired by the tropical zodiacal
lights during a phase of enhancement. However, Silbury Hill is quite a bit
further to the north and there is no other similar monument of a pyramidal
shape in the northern hemisphere as far as I am aware. Silbury Hill is
anaconic and is not strictly a pyramid, although some authors and
commentators have suggested a link exists, including those who think the
Egyptians actually sailed into Atlantic waters and reached Salisbury Plain.
Silbury has a flat top and that design is quite different to the pyramids.
The flattened area is a purposeful design feature that could have been used
to mark out certain constellations or features in the sky, such as Orion
drifting across the horizon. From Avebury circle the top of Silbury can just
be seen peeking above Waden Hill, just barely so. As Waden Hill is used for
growing cereals for most of the summer Silbury is actually invisible (See
John Devereux, The Sacred Place, Cassell & Co., 2000). However, after
harvest, at Lughnasad, or possibly later in the year, during October or
November, the view of Silbury might actually  coincide with the appearance
of the god Lugh, possibly the equivalent of Egyptian Horus.
Silbury can be seen in full only from certain locations. These include West
and East Kennet long barrows and The Sanctuary. It is a very large mound
built on rising ground and not as a profile against the skyline. I suggest
it was constructed as a sight line to the stars, or a particular group of
stars  associated with the hypothetical Clube and Napier comet. This
journeyed through a number of constellations such as Leo and Bootes etc. It
appeared variously out of Taurus, in the south as a companion of Sirius, and
in the north as a companion of the Great Bear. Lugh may of course have a
connection with Perseus as an alternative scenario. Silbury is conical and
it therefore has a shape that resembles a comet head as viewed from planet
earth. It is the same shape as a cauldron and many gods have strong
associations with these cooking pots that stood on three legs etc. It is
basically the same shape as the holy hill of Glastonbury Tor, and of
Cymbelines Castle on the Chiltern escarpment. Belinus was a Celtic god of
Beltane fires. Silbury is a giant mound. The outsides were constructed using
great lumps of white chalk rock. White is the colour of the stars, of comets
at night, and the colour of many gods from Osiris to Quetzalcoatl, from Isis
to Snow White, from Aphrodite to Ishtar etc.

I suggest the concept of mounds was to depict a feature of the gods, if not
an actual image. Frederick Green was ridiculed when he claimed to have found
the image of Horus or Osiris in predynastic Memphis, a mound of pure white
sand. However, an American expedition in the late 20th century confirmed
what he had found and it seems that a stone version of the sand mound was
incorporated into the Sed court at the pyramid complex. This mound therefore
differed as a feature of the gods. It was quite separate to the pyramid

Long and trapezoidal barrows are a feature of the 5th and 4th millenniums BC
and the transition to round barrows and bell barrows appears to have been
after the end of the 3rd millennium, in Britain, brought by immigrants from
the continent. Hence, the round shape of the god may have been a feature of
the 3rd millennium sky, a factor that may account for the bald gods of
Europe, the shorn hair of Samson, and the bright image devoid of a cometary
tail. In other words the comet may have been in the process of breaking up
in the 3rd millennium. This is when Silbury was built. The head of the comet
itself would have been the shape particular to that moment in time. 

Phillip Clapham


>From Worth Crouch <>

Dear Dr. Peiser:

After reading the CCNet - 29 November 2001, article (1) NEW STUDIES SHARPEN
PICTURE OF NEAR-EARTH ASTEROIDS it seems as though the article again
reinforces the concept that predicting practical probabilities of collisions
between NEO and the Earth are not yet possible.

>From other competent sources I previously concluded that it has not yet been
determined how many Near Earth Asteroids (NEA) there are or how many could
significantly damage the Earth. Short period comet paths are not exactly
known and future long period comets emerging from the Oort cloud are totally
unknown and can surprise the Earth at any time. The new studies from the
CCNet article help fill in astronomers' views of how near Earth asteroids
orbit the sun and how they ended up as NEA in the first place. The article
basically states that the picture emerging is one in which asteroids in the
belt between Mars and Jupiter collide, shatter and then clump together into
families, migrate into regions of space where the gravity of Jupiter can jar
them loose from their orbits and finally take up residence close to Earth.
"It's pretty clear that [near-Earth asteroids] come from the main asteroid
belt between Mars and Jupiter," explains Joseph Stuart of the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, an author of one of the reports. These new studies,
are "refining the details of how that might happen." Stuart, who compiled
data from the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) project, found
1,200 more kilometer-size rocks orbiting the sun than recent counts have
detected. "It's key for astronomers to know how many such objects there are
and how they revolve around the sun in order to assess the risk that one
might collide with Earth, he notes."

Therefore, randomness in space, is currently a deficiency of human knowledge
and the number of unknown NEA along with newly emerging NEA, from the main
asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, create a chaotic situation causing
collision probabilities between a NEO and the Earth to be presently without
merit. It then seems just a matter of time coupled with the chaotic nature
of asteroid/comet orbits, and the eventual emergence of an unknown
threatening comet from the Oort cloud before the Earth will be impacted by
an asteroid or comet capable of catastrophic devastation or at best great
regional damage. And that's the foremost argument for a space defense
against NEO's. Unfortunately some still believe that a cosmic collision with
the Earth occurs only once every 100,000 years, but probabilities like that
are based on incomplete evidence, which results in flawed probability ratios
and an incorrect idea that the Earth is safe from collisions in our near
future. Consequently, if we don't protect the Earth now we may not have a
near future.


Worth F. Crouch


>From the Onion Online, 28 November 2001

By Jory John
Orion columnist
November 28, 2001

Finally, we have something to celebrate, folks.

As reported by Reuters: "Astronomers delivered a little piece of good news
... we are much less likely to get wiped out by a big asteroid than
previously thought."


Put these odds in your pipe and smoke it in a designated outdoor area: There
is only a one in 5,000 chance that an asteroid big enough to wipe out
civilization, including boy bands and kittens, will hit the earth in the
next 100 years.

I only have one question before we don the luminous, solar party hats and
start celebrating in a manner reminiscent of those wacky, carefree dinosaurs
of 65 million years ago (who probably should've brushed up on their
"atmospheric fireball and devastating collision defense techniques,"
although it's easy to say "I told you so" 65 million years later). Yes,
here's the question: That's good news?

All right, I lied, I have another question: Isn't one in 5,000 still kind of

I mean, isn't it a bit freakish that mass extinction of life on Earth is a
lot more likely than winning that free Cap'n Crunch T-shirt or the Sprite
bottle cap game?

(Personally, I've been buying Power Bars left and right, but, while I have
indeed received powerful sustenance and nourishment, we'll most likely see
Armageddon - the day, not the movie - before I win a free wristband or
whatever it is they're giving away this time.)

Sure, the odds are a bit of an improvement from the previously held belief
of a one in 1,500 indescribably indescribable end, but goodness me, I'm
awash with feelings of helplessness that 1.) Leno, for some cosmic reason -
it might even be your fault - keeps beating Letterman in the ratings; 2.)
When it comes to any one of the estimated 9,000 objects in near-Earth
orbits, any one of which has the potential to lower property values and
increase general extinction worldwide, there just isn't all that much we
(including Bruce Willis as himself) can do about it.

In a sensational and pessimistic article by Gerrit L. Verschuur (odds are
one in 12 that you've already forgotten his name), Jonathan Tate of the
Armagh Observatory (sic) compares Earth to a person standing on a crowded
highway with cars passing every which way, going to and fro, point A to
point B, often failing to signal while changing lanes, if the highway is
anywhere near Chico.

"You are unlikely to wait for a car to pass and then step out into the road
thinking you will be safe for the next 10 seconds," Tate said, from what I
picture to be his fortified asteroid bunker, deep in the heart of an
undisclosed location, while passing the ketchup to Dick Cheney. "This would
be an act of folly, yet that is how we tend to think about the threat of any
natural disaster."

First of all, Tate, don't tell me what I think. Nobody knows what I think.

Second of all, you're absolutely right. Good call, ol' sport. Earth is,
indeed, blindly navigating a hostile and uncaring universe, a universe that
doesn't give a rat's patootie about our hopes, our dreams and our big plans
for Christmas break. (Or maybe it does. Who am I to pigeonhole an entire

The point is, this amazingly expanding universe I speak of plays by its own
rules, and although we cosmic specks operate under the illusion of order and
control, let's try to remember what most likely happened to the
aforementioned cosmic dinosaur specks. (No dinosaurs could be reached for

According to Sky & Telescope Magazine, the closest unexpected visit of a
near-Earth object (NEO) in recorded history occurred on Dec. 9, 1994, (the
heights of grunge - many of you youngsters weren't yet born) when the object
passed 100,000 kilometers from our humble blue-green planet.

Indeed, the 1990s were filled with some of the closest near-misses,
relatively speaking, ever.

Of 18 asteroid approaches documented, dating back to 1937, 12 of them took
place during Bill Clinton's presidency. (Blame Monica.)

Personally, I think this stuff is fascinating, and that too little is known
about impact hazards in general.

Odds are, we have nothing to worry about. But odds, like the times in which
we live, have a way of changing.

Jory John can be reached at:

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>From Jeff Kanipe <>

That was a thoughtful tribute to Mr. Harrison, Benny, and as a long-time
fan, I thank you. Some of your readers probably already know that Mr.
Harrison (as well as the other Fab Four) have asteroids named after them.
Asteroid Harrison is currently located in the predawn sky in eastern Virgo.
Its V-magnitude is 10.35, so you'll need a dark sky and at least a 4- or
5-inch telescope to glimpse it. Fortunately, it's located in a fairly
star-poor region of sky, but it will nevertheless be one of the faintest
specks in the field of view.

December 1 position of Harrison (according to my ephemeris program):
RA: 14h 35.04'; Dec. -7° 13.07'

Position December 5:
RA: 14h 42.7'; Dec. -7° 38.46'

Roughly speaking, this is some 16 to 17° ENE of Spica.
Distance: 3.4 AU
Disk illumination: 98.8%

Sail on George!

Jeff Kanipe

CCCMENU CCC for 2001