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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1999 > Feb > Feb 3

Re: 'Word' Is Beginning To Get Out...

From: Sue Kovios <bradford@globalserve.net>
Date: Wed, 03 Feb 1999 21:18:45 -0500
Fwd Date: Wed, 03 Feb 1999 22:24:44 -0500
Subject: Re: 'Word' Is Beginning To Get Out...

>From: Joe Firmage <jfirmage@uswebcks.com>
>Subject: 'Word' Is Beginning To Get Out...
>Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999 15:28:19 -0800
>To: updates@globalserve.net

>Check out...
>J O S E P H    F I R M A G E
>Founder & Chairman

Thanx Joe.  An intriguing article.  I attended a seminar on Out
of Body Experiences a couple of years ago and the teacher, in
response to a question I asked about UFOs, stated that
everything is made up of energy, and depending on our own energy
make-up reflects how we perceive other forms of energy.  I
didn't swallow that completely but I do believe that there may
be other forms of energy entering our atmosphere that take on
certain shapes and forms.  Perhaps the waves they interject with
could determine their appearance and/or disappearance, speed and
stillness, etc. This probably sounds like a bunch of
mumbo-jumbo, but hey, Wilbur Wright also said man would never
achieve flight.  I should think of becoming a scientist when I
grow up.

From there I looked around and also found the following
article: (Is Dr. Brownlee trying to be a comedian towards the
end of the article? )


February 2, 1999

In Search of Star Dust and Clues to Life By William J. Broad

It is the stuff of people, as well as cats, plants, buttons,
shoes, seas, planets, comets, moons, cars, books and cell
phones, not to mention the paper (or computer screen) on which
these words appear: star dust.

For decades, science has known of the importance of star dust in
the cosmic scheme of things, especially in matter more elaborate
than the simple elements made in the primordial Big Bang.

But scientists have never had pure samples to study. Soon,
though, they will, if everything goes as planned.

On Saturday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
is to launch a probe meant to capture interplanetary and
interstellar dust in some of its rawest and purest forms,
including many thousands of grains from a comet.

After a seven-year trek, the craft is to return the samples to
Earth, the first ever from beyond the Moon.

Appropriately enough, the mission is dubbed Stardust.

"We want to find out what this stuff is like," said Dr. Donald
C. Brownlee of the University of Washington, the chief scientist
of the mission. "It's the building block of planets and human

Dr. Alastair G. W. Cameron, an astrophysicist at Harvard
University, said scooping up star dust would greatly expand a
field that has recently undergone "a revolution" in
understanding not only how stars live and die but thrive in
surprising diversity.

The urge to investigate is driven by more than curiosity. Earth
sits in a cosmic shooting gallery, surrounded by speeding blocks
of ice and rock. The last time a really big one hit, 65 million
years ago, the tumult helped do in the dinosaurs, among other

Today, scientists are seeking to learn more about comets and
other clumps of star dust in case earthlings might one day want
to divert one of the intruders, which can threaten more ruin
than all the world's nuclear arsenals combined.

Dr. Don Yeomans, a senior scientist at the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which manages the Stardust
mission, said it was only prudent to find such objects, learn
their structure and "keep an eye upon their future

Most intriguing of all, scientists hope a harvest of Stardust
data will yield clues to the origin of life on Earth, and
perhaps elsewhere. A rain of cosmic and cometary material is
widely thought to have brought early Earth not only water but
the carbon-rich molecules necessary for life.

Indeed, some scientists believe the speeding mountains of dirty
ice known as comets may themselves support primitive life. While
highly speculative, such thinking has been bolstered ever so
slightly in recent years by the discovery of earthly microbes
dwelling in all manner of extreme environments from hot springs
to polar ices.

The possibility of cometary life is real enough that NASA asked
some of the nation's top biologists and other scientists to
assess whether the returning probe might inadvertently infect
Earth with a plague of microscopic aliens.

That risk was ruled out. But scientists say there is a very slim
chance the craft will carry back dead extraterrestrials killed
by heat during capture.

"We concluded that the collection method would not allow any
organisms to live," said Dr. Clark R. Chapman, a senior
scientist at the Southwest Research Institute, based in San
Antonio, and a member of the review team. "But they might come
back mashed and partly melted."

The backdrop for the mission was set some 12 billion to 16
billion years ago when repercussions of the cosmic explosion
known as the Big Bang filled the expanding universe with
hydrogen and helium, the simplest elements. They burned as stars
flashed to life. The starry furnaces in turn transformed the
hydrogen and helium into a variety of heavier elements,
including carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, silicon and iron.

Such ashes were blown into space from parent stars by stellar
winds or blasted out by stellar explosions, the great heats of
which are thought to have made still heavier elements.

Over generations of stars, a mix of gas and dust formed in
interstellar space that included grains of graphite (pure
carbon), silicon carbide (carbon and silicon) and water ice
(hydrogen and oxygen).

The mix is thought to have gotten richer still as new stars lit
up nearby dust clouds with bursts of ultraviolet light, turning
simple atoms and molecules into more complex ones like methane,
methyl alcohol and dozens of other so-called organic compounds
rich in carbon.

Such intricate dusts in turn formed new generations of stars,
perhaps accompanied by planets and icy comets not unlike those
of our own solar system, which is thought to have condensed out
of a dusty cloud some 4.6 billion years ago.

Today, scientists know about this cosmic chemistry in part by
having peered with telescopes into the icy depths of space and
found the signatures of all kinds of simple and complex
molecules. Joni Mitchell, it seems, got it right in her song
"Woodstock" when she sang, "We are star dust." The celestial mix
(much water, many organic chemicals) matches that of the human
body better than Earth's general makeup does.

In our solar system, most of the original cloud has vanished. It
was pulled into the Sun, blown into deep space or turned into
planets where internal heats and actions altered the materials
still further.

But some of the original cloud survives, mainly in the form of
billions of comets. Other primal matter falls to Earth in the
form of rocky meteorites or as a steady rain of cosmic and
cometary dust.

"That's the irony," said Dr. Brownlee of the University of
Washington, who pioneered catching such dust in high-flying
jets. "We have cometary particles all over us. Anybody who has
been outside today has a cometary particle on them. But you
can't find them or where they came from."

The reason for the uncertainty is that the particles are mixed
up amid earthly and celestial contamination and have often been
altered by heat upon hitting Earth's atmosphere.

Despite its ambitious goals, Stardust is one of NASA's cheaper
space probes, costing $166 million. Contributing to the low
price is the recycling of spare parts from earlier craft like
Voyager, Galileo and Cassini.

After launching from Florida, Stardust will head for deep space.
On approaching interstellar dust streams and the target comet,
known as Wild-2, it will deploy, on command from Earth, a
particle catcher shaped like a tennis racket.

The catcher is covered on both sides with an extremely
low-density foam known as aerogel. This semitransparent material
will slow and stop particles without altering them too much. One
side will be used for the comet; the other for the interstellar

In 2000 and 2002, the craft will gather dust in the regions
between Mars and Jupiter. Recently, other probes moving through
these areas have found a strong flow of particles from roughly
the direction of the constellation Sagittarius, toward which the
Sun is moving.

In January 2004, Stardust is to encounter Wild-2 -- a glob of
dirty ice a few miles wide. It is considered an ideal target
because it only recently has been deflected by Jupiter's gravity
from a distant orbit into the inner solar system, so its outer
layers have undergone relatively little solar heating.

Wild-2 now travels in a looping path from just outside Jupiter's
orbit to just inside that of Mars, where it makes its closest
approach to the Sun and reaches peak activity.

The spacecraft, 97 days after that peak, is to zoom past the
comet. The rendezvous site lies beyond the red planet. Still,
the Sun will be able to coax the ice ball into shedding dense
swarms of particles and vapors.

At 13,600 miles per hour, the spacecraft is to swoop through the
comet's coma, the globular cloud-like mass that makes up the
head, passing within 100 or so miles of the core. It will
capture dust and photograph the nucleus. Particles will hit the
dust catcher at up to six times the speed of a bullet fired from
a high-powered rifle, NASA estimates.

The craft's front end and solar panels are shielded with armor
plates to protect Stardust from the storm of icy particles.

Scientists say the particles will range from roughly 100 microns
(twice the width of a typical human hair) to less than a micron
(one-fiftieth of a human hair). A few, they judge, will be large
and a million or so, smaller than a micron.

After the collecting is done, in January 2006, the craft's
32-inch-wide return pod is to descend by parachute toward the
United States Air Force Test and Training range in Utah. The
planned landing site is 100 or so miles southwest of Salt Lake
City in the desert.

Then, scientists will begin analyzing its samples, working in
particular to establish as firm a baseline as possible for the
makeup of cosmic dust.

"It will give us ground truth," Dr. Brownlee said.

Scientists also hope to address a number of mysteries in the
analysis of dust particles captured by jets and retrieved from
meteorites, especially odd ratios in them of rare isotopes,
which have the same chemical properties of parent elements but
different atomic weights.

In theory, studies of the samples could illuminate the
evolutionary history of stars and establish a firm link between
interstellar dust, the state of the solar system's early cloud,
the nature of comets and the materials that today make up Earth
and its inhabitants.

NASA discounts the possibility that any living alien creatures
will hitch a ride to Earth.

"Comets are extremely unlikely places for life," Dr. John
Rummel, the agency's planetary protection officer, said at a
recent press conference.

Nevertheless, NASA had the National Academy of Sciences, the
Congressionally chartered group of leading scientists that
advises the Government, go over the mission plan carefully. A
10-member panel appointed by the Academy's National Research
Council concluded in a report last year that cometary life was
unlikely but that "the possibility cannot be completely ruled

In addressing the alien issue, Dr. Brownlee noted that though
most of the cosmic particles that fall naturally to Earth are
heated, some are not. Therefore, in theory, cometary life may
already have arrived on the planet long ago.

"Nature," he noted, "is always full of surprises."

Copyright 1999 The New York Times Company


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