archiv~1.txt: SETI CCNet DIGEST, 10/03/99

SETI CCNet DIGEST, 10/03/99

Larry Klaes ( lklaes@bbn.com )
Fri, 12 Mar 1999 12:04:43 -0500

>From: Benny J Peiser <b.j.peiser@livjm.ac.uk>
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>To: cambridge-conference@livjm.ac.uk
>Subject: CCNet DIGEST, 10/03/99
>Date: Wed, 10 Mar 1999 11:12:30 -0500 (EST)
>Priority: NORMAL
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>CCNet DIGEST, 10 March 1999
>---------------------------
>
>(1) A THREATENING PRESENCE FROM PLANET REMAINS
> THE IRISH TIMES, 8 March 1999
> http://www.irish-times.com:80/irish-times/paper/1999/0308/hom30.html
>
>(2) HILTON BACK SPACE HOTEL: 'WE ONLY NEED $6 - $12 BILLION'
> BBC News Online
>http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_293000/293366.stm
>
>(3) SNL & JPL PROPOSE $1BILLION INTERSTELLAR EXPLORER
> Scripps Howard News Service
> http://www.bergen.com:80/morenews/spacetug199903098.htm
>
>=====================
>(1) A THREATENING PRESENCE FROM PLANET REMAINS
>
>>From THE IRISH TIMES, 8 March 1999
>http://www.irish-times.com:80/irish-times/paper/1999/0308/hom30.html
>
>>From Larry Klaes <lklaes@bbn.com>
>
>Massive building blocks left over after the planets formed still orbit
>the sun beyond Neptune, and every 100,000 years or so one wanders
>towards us, posing an enormous risk to the Earth. Dick Ahlstrom reports
>on efforts to learn more about them.
>
>Astronomers at Queen's University Belfast and Armagh
>Observatory are undertaking an international study of a belt of
>planetary leftovers, enormous objects up to 800km across
>which orbit the sun beyond Neptune.
>
>New "Trans-Neptunian Objects", TNOs, were being discovered every month,
>said Dr Alan Fitzsimmons, reader in observational astrophysics at
>Queen's, although the first was identified only in September 1992.
>
>The most recent, the 113th, was announced on February 16th, he said,
>and his group had discovered eight. He said the objects were found in
>what is known as the Kuiper Belt, a band of material in orbit between
>30 and 50 astronomical units (AU) from the sun.
>
>An AU is equivalent to the distance of the Earth from the sun, about 93
>million miles.
>
>The first astronomer to theorise about their presence was an Irishman
>from Streete, Co Westmeath, Kenneth Edgeworth, an accomplished amateur
>who published two papers in the 1940s.
>
>These remained virtually unknown but the idea persisted, culminating in
>a paper in 1951 by a Dutch astronomer, Gerard Kuiper, whose name now
>describes their place in the solar system.
>
>TNOs are remarkably difficult to spot, Dr Fitzsimmons explained,
>because of their small size relative to their distance from us and
>because they don't reflect much light.
>
>"These objects are darker than coal," he said, "and you might expect to
>find no more than one in an area of sky about the size of a full moon."
>
>This accounted for the long delay before the first TNO was identified
>seven years ago. It requires a very sensitive camera, but also their
>discovery was very much a matter of "believing that they were there",
>he said.
>
>It is only in recent years that this has become possible, using a
>combination of wide field CCD (charge-coupled device) cameras and large
>2.5-metre telescopes. The current generation of CCD cameras can take
>images of remarkably faint objects.
>
>"We can see objects that are 15 million times fainter than the faintest
>star you could see on a dark night in Connemara," he said.
>
>Observers use a trick of the ancient Greeks to distinguish the planets
>from the stars. It involves taking two images a given period of time
>apart and looking for near objects that have moved relative to the
>background of more distant stars. Knowing the time delay and the
>distance travelled gives astronomers estimates of how far away the
>object is.
>
>TNOs are of great interest to researchers. They are assumed to be
>material left behind after the proto-planetary disc of matter that must
>have originally surrounded our sun condensed into planets.
>
>"What we believe we are looking at are the remnant building blocks of
>the planets. Samples would tell us much about the stuff from which
>planets are made."
>
>Researchers are also interested because the Kuiper Belt is believed to
>be the source from which short period comets arise. These include Comet
>Temple Tuttle, dust from which produces the annual November Leonid
>meteor showers.
>
>Visitors from the Kuiper Belt could eventually become Earth impactors.
>TNOs drop out of the belt and move into the solar system proper once
>every 100,000 years or so and there are eight or nine known objects
>moving between Neptune and Jupiter, he said. "We believe these are
>slowly moving into the inner solar system."
>
>The impactor thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years
>ago was estimated to have been between one and two kilometres across
>(sic), but TNOs range from 50km up to 800km, with most falling between
>100km and 400km.
>
>It is thought that any TNO making it past Jupiter's gravitational pull
>would be broken up into smaller pieces, but these would still represent
>a serious threat if they drifted towards us.
>
>There is a move afoot to have the Kuiper Belt renamed the
>Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt and to rechristen TNOs as Edgeworth-Kuiper
>Objects, said Dr Mark Bailey, director of the Armagh Observatory.
>
>While it does seem that Kuiper did not rely on Edgeworth's work, his
>earlier papers are documented and they do predate Kuiper.
>
>It shows that Ireland's size does not militate against its position in
>international research.
>
>Copyright 1999, The Irish Times
>
>==================
>(2) HILTON BACK SPACE HOTEL
>
>>From BBC News Online
>http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_293000/293366.stm
>
>By BBC News Online Science Editor Dr David Whitehouse
>
>The hotel group Hilton International is to become the first sponsor of
>a privately funded plan to build a space station. It will be
>constructed from used Space Shuttle fuel tanks.
>
>And when the Hilton Orbital Hotel is built, space visionary Arthur C
>Clark wants to be there for the opening.
>
>The project, called Space Islands, will connect together Space Shuttle
>fuel tanks, each the diameter of a Boeing 747 aircraft. At present they
>are the only part of Nasa's Space Shuttle that is not reused.
>
>British Airways are also said to want to become involved in the
>project. Under consideration is a survey of BA and Hilton customers
>asking them if they would like to take a holiday in space.
>
>They would be asked if they wanted it to be entirely gravity free and
>if they would like large windows to view the Earth. Would they like to
>take a spacewalk is another possible question.
>
>"There is powerful support for this concept in Washington," said Space
>Island Group director Gene Meyers.
>
>He told BBC News Online "There is no technical reason why it cannot be
>done."
>
>He hopes that the project will excite major companies to sponsor the
>project in the same way that they sponsor the Olympics.
>
>"We need $6 - $12 billion," he said, "That is a fraction of the [$40bn]
>cost of the space station that is currently being built by the USA,
>Russia and other countries."
>
>The space station would be made out of empty space shuttle fuel tanks.
>Currently, they are used once and allowed to fall back to Earth,
>burning up in its atmosphere. However they could easily be kept in
>space and outfitted as living quarters.
>
>The most optimistic schedule for its construction is six years, given
>the money and the will to do it.
>
>"Eventually there could be several of these space stations in orbit,"
>says Meyers, "It would even be possible to put one in a figure-of-eight
>orbit around the Earth and the Moon. That would be quite a vacation."
>
>The idea of using spent Space Shuttle fuel tanks is not new. It was
>once considered by Nasa as the basis for its own space station. However
>it was discarded as being too simple. It was possibly also seen as too
>commercial for an organisation that sees its role mainly in research
>and development.
>
>Up to 100 people at a time could be ferried up to the orbital hotel, if
>a second-generation space shuttle was built.
>
>Space visionary Arthur C Clarke has been an enthusiastic backer of the
>project for a year.
>
>He was to approach film director Stanley Kubrick to become involved.
>Together they designed the famous wheel-shaped space station for the
>film "2001 - A Space Odyssey."
>
>But Kubrick's recent death has ended the chance for him to see his
>vision turned into reality.
>
>It is no coincidence that in "2001 - A Space Odyssey" part of the space
>station is a Hilton hotel. The hotel group paid to be part of the film.
>Thirty years later Arthur C Clark has once again approached the company
>to be part of the new initiative.
>
>"This space station could be built, there is no reason why it can't"
>said Gene Meyers "all we need is for people to find out that it can be
>done and then help us do it."
>
>Copyright 1999, BBC
>
>=====================
>(3) SNL & JPL PROPOSE $1BILLION INTERSTELLAR EXPLORER
>
>>From Scripps Howard News Service
>http://www.bergen.com:80/morenews/spacetug199903098.htm
>
>Tuesday, March 9, 1999
>
>By LAWRENCE SPOHN
>
>ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The ultimate road trip, a nearly 100 billion-mile
>excursion out of the solar system, is being proposed by scientists at
>government laboratories in New Mexico and California.
>
>Their proposed interstellar space cruiser would haul a 1-ton telescope
>into the unexplored frontier of interstellar space at 380,000 mph, give
>or take a few thousand mph.
>
>Collaborating scientists at the Department of Energy's Sandia National
>Laboratories in Albuquerque and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in
>Pasadena, Calif., say that not only is mankind's first interstellar
>mission "doable" next decade, but its potential achievements also make
>it extremely worthy.
>
>FULL STORY:
>http://www.bergen.com:80/morenews/spacetug199903098.htm
>
>Copyright 1999, Scripps Howard News Service
>
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