Saturday, January 28, 2006

Panther Mountain, NY, Created by Asteroid Strike, Big Meteor Strikes Hit Antarctica

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Long ago, an asteroid hit just 70 miles away from where I now live, Panther Mountain in the Catskills. My husband worked with the geologist who discovered this impact site. Also, geologists find major meteor strikes in Antarctica.

From the NY State Museum:
ISACHSEN, Yngvar W., NYS Geological Survey, Albany, NY 12230; Panther Mountain Circular Feature

A study is underway of cuttings of the Herdman Well, which is located near the northern periphery of the Panther Mountain Circular feature. The goal is to test the possibility that Panther Mountain circular drainage and negative gravity anomaly are caused by a buried impact crater (an intact impact). The cuttings are being searched for shock induced features such as shatter cone markings, breccias, fused glass, planar features in quartz, and displaced, repeated, or disrupted stratigraphic units that would test the impact hypothesis.
Ingvar was lots of fun to work with and my husband enjoyed it a lot. Studying satellite photos, Ingvar noticed the perfectly round circle in one of the state parks. Even the streams ran in a circle. So he decided to study it.

I once got lost a night in that area and ended up, with my daughter, driving in the huge circle. We were told to look for a red barn and turn left. Well, there are zillions of red barns there! So we kept going left, counterclockwise until I saw the same red barns marching past, yet again! Spent over two hours at this amusing enterprise. So I got to know the area pretty well. When you stand on any of the outer ridges, the bowl shape is quite noticable.

This medium-sized crater is only 70 miles from my farm. If it were to hit now, I would be going on a one way trip to the cosmos. Just the wind and flash would do me in, forget the flying rocks!

Here is a list of all the major known strikes. Panther Mountain isn't in this list only because it was confirmed just in the last 15 years. This is most likely what it came from:
End of the Triassic Period

About 214 million years ago, 5 large fragments of a comet impacted the Northern Hemisphere. The impacts caused widespread destruction and lead to 3rd largest mass extinction resulting in the loss of approximately 80% of the species on the face of the planet. The fragments impacted in Quebec, Canada; Saint Martin, Canada; Red Wing, North Dakota; France; and the Ukraine. The largest fragment produced the Manicouagan crater, 62 miles in diameter, in Quebec, Canada.
Over the eons, it filled in as the Catskill mountains eroded away.

In 2004, scientists discovered a major meteor strike on Antarctica. The effects from it were very different than if it landed on water or land. From the Guardian:
Professor Frans van der Hoeven, from Delft University in the Netherlands, told the conference that the evidence showed that an asteroid measuring between three and seven miles across had broken up in the atmosphere and five large pieces had hit the Earth, creating multiple craters over an area measuring 1,300 by 2,400 miles.

The effect would have been to melt all the ice in the path of the pieces, as well as the crust underneath. The biggest single strike caused a hole in the ice sheet roughly 200 by 200 miles, which would have melted about 1% of the ice sheet, raising water levels worldwide by 60cm (2ft).
That would cause Florida to go for a pretty big swim. This happened 780,000 years ago when the Great Ice Ages already began.
Prof Van der Hoeven said: "The extraordinary thing about this meteor strike is that it appeared to do so little damage. Unlike the dinosaur strike there is no telltale layer of dust that demonstrates the history of the event. It may have damaged things and wiped out species but there is no sign of it."
Well, no matter where a strike occurs, it would be problematic for the earth as we humans have arranged ourselves.
One thing that did happen at exactly the same time was the reversing of the Earth's magnetic field. There is no other explanation as to why this took place and Prof Van der Hoeven believes it was caused by the impact.
You know, our north pole has taken to wandering lately. Looks like we might be in for a reversal. A real coincidence.

Meanwhile, Bush, head in the sand, as usual, with NASA set firmly on the path of useless space exploration while studiously ignoring this planet (oh, how like 9/11 this all is!) spends all his feeble resources trying to shut up pesky NASA scientists. From NY Times:
The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.
I wonder if the paper pushers at NASA will show him instruments of torture. I wonder if signing papers denying the earth orbits the sun denying the earth is over 6.000 years old are next.

One thing for certain, if Gore were President, I know we could appeal to him to save the planet.

Here is some legislation information concerning protecting the planet from hazards of outerspace: From Congress:
H.R. 1022, also introduced by Rep. Rohrabacher, would establish a program within NASA to detect, track, catalogue, and characterize the physical properties of near-Earth asteroids and comets equal to or greater than 100 meters in diameter in order to assess the threat of Earth being struck by such near-Earth objects. The bill would authorize appropriations for the program of $20 million for each of fiscal years 2006 through 2007.

Rep. Rohrabacher said, “The potential catastrophe of an asteroid hitting Earth should no longer be ignored. We need to know what is out there. Accounts of asteroids passing close to Earth with almost no prior warning should be enough to get our attention. The first step is to assess the threat. Given the vast number of asteroids and comets that inhabit the Earth's neighborhood, greater efforts for tracking and monitoring these objects are critical. This bill would direct NASA to expand their current program to track and detect potential threats and would provide a funding authorization. Any threat that would wreak havoc on or world should be studied and prevented if possible. We have the technology, we need the direction – this bill provides that.”
This was passed out of committee back last May. It isn't a big, fat pork bill for junk like the bridge to nowhere in Alaska so I doubt any money was budgeted for it.

I don't see any mention elsewhere conerning this. Time for a rethink, right?
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New Asteroid, 2006 BQ6, Might Pass Close to Earth (and I do mean CLOSE)

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Astronomers at Mt. Lemmon which is the mountain I lived next to when not on Kitt Peak when I was a child, spotted an asteroid which they calculate will pass very close to the earth. Really close.

From a science forum:
Asteroid 2006 BQ6 has a very tiny chance to hit Earth on Aug 1. Judging from the Palermo Scale of -2.8, the odds are about 1 in 20,000. The asteroid's trajectory is only known from 1.5 days of arc, and subsequent observations are likely to give better estimates and (what usually occurs) eliminate any possibility of a collison.

Just something interesting to watch at this stage...

2006 BQ6

Notes: 2006 BQ6 was discovered by the Mt. Lemmon Survey on the morning of 22 Jan. 2006 and was announced two days later, when it was posted by NEODyS as an impact risk.

NOTE: This object, estimated to be on the order of 425 meters in diameter, has a highly-preliminary impact solution for Aug. 1st this year. This solution is rated at the normal Torino Scale 0 ("likelihood of collision is zero, or so low as to be effectively zero") and has a relatively low Palermo Scale (PS) rating for a solution so soon for an object of this size, but still the non-zero possibility needs to be completely ruled out. Fortunately, 2006 BQ6 will remain in view and early risk assessments always change with further observation.

Packed designation: K06B06Q
NEODyS Clomon Assessment

Years VI PS Cum PS Max T S Arc Days
2006-2072 7 -2.76 -2.78 0 1.545

Click here to see the path of the asteroid.

Here is the University of Arizona's meteor strike calculator.

Here is the Meteor Crater page. My grandfather, Edison Pettit, was one of the astronomers who decided this was a meteor strike rather than a volcano. My parents have a fairly large meteor which my grandfather tried to saw in half, using old equipment that broke down before sawing it in two, it weighs over 100lbs. I used to play with it when I was a child, running toys across the surface.

There was fierce debate about the moon's craters. Grandpa sided with the theory, they were from meteors and my father believed the dust on the moon might be pretty deep and maybe loose due to the low gravity. He worried the space capsule might sink in too deeply to extract again. When we sent men to the moon, there was no way of knowing, it was a big risk.

My grandfather made a blow-up photo of the moon at half dark/half light. It was over 8' tall and 4' wide, one of the biggest pictures of the moon outside of museums. I used to stand there and trace out the various impacts with my finger when very young. I grew up knowing the topography of the moon as well as the surrounding mountains we lived in or on.

I used to wonder about meteor impacts.

I have seen quite a few meteor passes thanks to living on places like Kitt Peak with no light interference and a very thin atmosphere. To this day, I have powerful lungs thanks to running around as a child on high mountains. Your voice is pitched higher there, too, so by the time I was 13, my voice accomodated this by dropping very low. I have a deep voice today, thanks to this.

As a teen, if I dressed appropriately, I could pass myself off as an adult due to my low voice abilities, something I exploited in the usual way (no need to ask! Pass the beer stein!). Anyway, we also studied volcanoes and my parents loved visiting volcanoes and nothing pleased them more than to figure out if a volcano, in the pre-satellite days, blew up and we noted it on the mountain tops by the passage of a sudden line of super high cirrus clouds.

I caught the clouds from one eruption as I walked out of my bedroom one afternoon, back in 1964. It was fun, spotting it.

If a celestial object does hit, it is very similar to a volcanic eruption: the further one is from it, the louder the boom. At over a thousand miles, one can hear it quite distinctly. When Krakatoa blew up, the sound traveled around the world three times, it was so loud! Next comes the high cirrus clouds and right behind the long, white broiling line of clouds comes the wind. The closer one is, the fiercer the wind. Winds of over 500 mph can happen. The debrie from the impact is very fine of one is far away but closer, things can get bitterly bad, fast. If it hits an ocean which is more likely, then we get tidalwaves that would dwarf the ones that hit us back last year. And of course, there would be many earthquakes, too.

Our ancestors saw all this. Meteor crater happened only 50,000 years ago. It wasn't that big an object, hitting us.

All my life, since I was so small, I was in a crib, my family has talked about this matter, namely, we fret about stellar objects hitting our planet. We know that in the middle ages, a meteor hit the moon and it turned red from the mantle of dust that covered the entire surface within minutes. The moon is still trembling from that impact, like a rung bell.

Carl Sagan loved to talk about this and like me, supported the space program for two reasons: to locate other lifeforms and star/planetary systems and to spot asteroids or meteors and deal with them before they deal with us! Back in the eighties, I frantically tried to redirect the funding for Star Wars over to space observatories and developing a better L-orbital flight system that is easy to launch so we can intercept these asteroids quickly.

Now we sit here like sitting ducks who can't duck. I hope this is a near miss, I hope it is a wake-up call. I really don't want to witness a meteor impact, thank you. Space, as my grandfather loved to say, isn't empty at all. And it has a lot of stuff that is dark and can't be seen unless it approaches the sun. And look at the Milky Way some night. The dark patches are vast, gigantic sheets of hard space dirt like asteroids, masses and masses of this stuff, huge, unimaginable amounts, so great, no starlight from the galactic core penetrates it. Our sun has bored a hole in this sort of dirt and much of it resides on the outer Kuiper belt in an unstable situation which is why pieces fall back into the planetary plane.

The ice and dust ones become comets. The hard iron ones are called asteroids. Both are exceedingly dangerous. When the comet that hit Jupiter during OJ mania summer, it didn't penetrate American's consciousness because we were distracted by dumb stuff. But I will assure you, the astronomers and scientists at all the observatories and JPL were amazed, flabbergasted and horrified as it bore into Jupiter's cloud cover, leaving massive holes that churned and burned for quite a long while. No one, absolutely no one expected this.

The holes were bigger than the planet earth and yet, it was all much smaller fragments of the original giant. My father calculated that if it hit us, there wouldn't be much left to talk about it unless one s a single celled creature.

By the way, growing up with astronomers, I had to deal with the emotional difficulties of thinking about the beginning and end of time, etc. This is why I have a cheerful disposition. Namely, if Lady Luck, the real ruler of the Universe, the one who rolls those dice and blindly blunders about, if She rolls snake-eyes, there isn't much to do. But if humans are very clever, they can tip the dice and foil her.

Only we are more destructive than She is! So all I can say is, roll them bones and give me good luck.
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MSNBC Issues Boilerplate Lies About Space Shuttle Disaster

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Calling the accusation that the White House applied political pressure on NASA to hurry up and launch the Challenger "a myth", MSNBC carries GOP water, as always, when anyone blows a whistle, they are called liars or insane. I was very involved in the debate about the launch when it was happening. The very strong concerns of the technicians on the ground were overridden by the top administrators of NASA and then, to cover up, they had to make up ridiculous stories which are easily debunked.

Myth #6: Political pressure forced the launch

There were pressures on the flight schedule, but none of any recognizable political origin. Launch officials clearly felt pressure to get the mission off after repeated delays, and they were embarrassed by repeated mockery on the television news of previous scrubs, but the driving factor in their minds seems to have been two shuttle-launched planetary probes. The first ever probes of this kind, they had an unmovable launch window just four months in the future. The persistent rumor that the White House had ordered the flight to proceed in order to spice up President Reagan’s scheduled State of the Union address seems based on political motivations, not any direct testimony or other first-hand evidence. Feynman personally checked out the rumor and never found any substantiation. If Challenger's flight had gone according to plan, the crew would have been asleep at the time of Reagan's speech, and no communications links had been set up.
We had FOUR MONTHS "window of opportunity." So why the rush? Why worry about a six hour delay which was all the engineers were asking for? A 24 hour delay?

Why was the media howling at NASA? They don't howl at NASA unless there is some political pressure to howl at NASA and that comes from the political side of the street. I didn't know of a single scientist at JPL, for example, yelling for a quick as possible launch! Indeed, they were the ones calling for it to not be launched and the probes were their babies!

Next: the idea that the astronauts would all be "asleep" at the wheel by 8pm is totally stupid. What? Huh? Were they all Bush clones? I can easily wake up at 4am and run things until midnight, this is my normal schedule! And the excitement of a great trip into space? Running around for 24 hours is a cinch. Indeed, no one is sent into space to snooze. The missions are fairly short in duration, a tiny handful of days. So sleep is kept to a minimum, not a maximum! Occassional cat naps. And not everyone sleeping at once, either. Jeeze. This is why anyone going into space has to be fit and not only that, very strong, endurance-wise. No Bushes go into space!

This sort of infantile stuff posted by MSNBC really steams me. Of course, top NASA authorities will never suggest they were pressured by the White House. Biting the hand that feeds you and all that. Reporters are not supposed to be paid by the White House even though they are, of course, under the table. So supposedly, they are to be immune to this sort of thing and should be able to seek out the truth. It is interesting that the cat is out of the bag since no reporter talked to me back then, about this matter, and you can bet, they won't talk to me today, even after googling my story.

And Google is being very nice to me lately, my postings are often on page one there and so this means, people can access it easily.

The news media back then, ran stories about Reagan looking forward to talking to the teacher in space. Big, big PR stuff. I remember it quite clearly. I also remember talking about that with my father that morning. I also remember how the press worked hard to erase that information afterwards, assuring the Americans watching the news that Reagan had absolutely nothing to do with the disaster and then that trained seal actor went to the podium and shed crocodile tears all over his monitor, weeping for them and making a big to-do about how they were now angels and all that. Boo hoo. We were then ordered, collectively, to not think about the morning's plans for the teacher to talk with Reagan.
Myth #7: An unavoidable price for progress

Claims that the disaster was the unavoidable price to be paid for pioneering a new frontier were self-serving rationalizations on the part of those responsible for incompetent engineering management — the disaster should have been avoidable. NASA managers made a bad call for the launch decision, and engineers who had qualms about the O-rings were bullied or bamboozled into acquiescence. The skeptics’ argument that launching with record cold temperatures is valid, but it probably was not argued as persuasively as it might have been, in hindsight. If launched on a warmer day, with gentler high-altitude winds, there’s every reason to suppose the flight would have been successful and the troublesome seal design (which already had the attention of designers) would have been modified at a pace that turned out to have been far too leisurely. The disaster need never have happened if managers and workers had clung to known principles of safely operating on the edge of extreme hazards — nothing was learned by the disaster that hadn’t already been learned, and then forgotten.

Gads. The previous myth #6 claimed there was no pressure then this paragraph admits there was pressure! This is why the stooge reporter had to say, the pressure was from JPL to launch because they only had four (!!!!) more months to go? What?

Engineers didn't have qualms about the O rings, they didn't even have qualms about the cold even though there was ice on the shuttle which concerned them somewhat. It was 100% the air turbulence, especially at 20,000 feet. Period. This lying reporter then claims NASA learned nothing from the disaster.

Hogwash. Unlike reporters or politicians, scientists don't have sudden Alzheimer's symptoms whenever they have to think about disasters! I know from first hand experience, how difficult politicians can be and how difficult it was, trying to raise funds for NASA when America was being bullied by the military/industrial complex and right wingers like Safire, who I debated in public back then, over the Star Wars program with suddenly sucked up most of NASA's potential funding, so Congress brutally penny pinched NASA to death thanks to the huge budget overruns caused by Reagan's wild tax cutting, back then, the Chinese were too poor to soak up all our red ink for us.

This is why the teacher in space publicity was launched. To revive public interest in the shuttle missions which were quite boring up until then.

NASA officials have huge reasons to lie about this disaster. They, like Reagan and his operatives, were complicit in this mess and so, to save themselves and save their paymasters, they covered it all up with a ton of bull. And so here we are, after a second, eerily similar disaster, on the anniversary of the other shuttle blow up, when Bush happily announced we are going to Mars (and killing any research about this home planet of ours that might show global warming!).

There are lies about that mess we won't ever see debunked by the scribes pretending to be reporters. And MSNBC: you know my name, you know where I am. Gads. Feel free to call me. I get not one thin dime from NASA or anyone so I have no reason to shut up. On the other hand, if anyone working for JPL is called to confirm my information, they will be forced to lie. Ah well.

The truth is obvious. Even within the parameters of this "myth debunking" article.
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