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"News Fit to Transmit in the Post Cassini Flyby Era"

Military-Industrial-Academic Complex * Human Rights regarding Global Warming,: the U'wa and Big Mountain

In the post Cassini flyby era, human damage to our ecosystem is increasing at an alarming rate. It was recently reported that the last three winters were the warmest in recorded history in the U.S. (and probably for the world). This is manifesting in extended and more severe devestating storm seasons, droughts and disasters (like that of Mozambique). Instead of responding to such human-made crises, programs such as the Ballistic Missile System use valuable economic resources to destabilize the world even more. Also, programs by NASA that claim to serve humankind are adding to the nuclear pollution of our planet and beyond. The U.S. Congress supports these projects and the American public has little choice in the matter, because the political arena and the media are controlled by those tied to oil and military-industrial interests.

The U'wa are an indigenous community of 5,000 that has lived in the cloudforests of the Colombian Andes for thousands of years. At the heart of their culture is the belief that the land which has sustained them for centuries is sacred, and that they exist to protect that land. Today, the U'wa and their sacred land are threatened by a United States oil company set to drill its first oil wells on the U'wa's territory. The U'wa 's opposition to the oil project is so strong that they have vowed to commit collective suicide if the project goes forward, believing that it would be better to die by their own hands than to watch the destruction of their culture and their homeland. Despite this, the Colombian government and Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum are moving forward with plans to drill for oil on the U'wa's traditional territory. This is similar to the crisis confronted by the Dine'h (Navajo) at Big Mountain, Arizona where Peabody Coal Company, with the support of the U.S. Government is planning to strip-mine the land and relocate the indigenous community now living on the Earth in a sacred and simple way.

For more information on the U'wa and Big Mountain and what you can do to help, please refer to these websites:

Instead of a full scale commitment to sustainable energy technologies that emit less carbon elements into our atmosphere, our shortsighted technological civilization is supporting strip mining for coal burning, funneling billions of dollars for an ineffective life threatenning arms race and the use of toxic nuclear power to gain knowledge of our solar system. This is clearly irrational and devoid of concern for human and other life species.

Space can be explored with advanced technologies without harming the one planet that we know is alive and most suitable for human life. However, without the wisdom of patience and balance, the military-industrial-academic institutions are destroying life as we know it. Now is the time to change this direction, but unless we unite and support critical issues, our time will end prematurely for people, who claim to be intelligent?


Missions to Mars: Nuclear-powered Probes In the Plans for Mars

Wed. Mar 8, 2000

By Paul Hoversten
Washington Bureau Chief
posted: 09:04 pm EST

Missions to Mars: Nuclear-powered Probes In the Plans for Mars

WASHINGTON -- NASA is considering the use of nuclear-powered spacecraft in the future to explore Mars -- an idea certain to ignite a firestorm of protest on Earth, has learned.

No such spacecraft would be launched to Mars anytime soon.

Probes targeted for launching in 2001 or 2003 still would carry conventional solar panels or wings that would draw their power from sunlight.

But the plan to use nuclear power at Mars, as was done with the 1970s-era Viking mission, is "not off the table," said Ed Weiler, NASA's associate administrator for space science. "For better or worse, Mars is a faraway planet and using these things makes a lot of sense when you're trying to build a robust program there."

Both the Galileo and Cassini deep space missions have nuclear power packs known as radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTG's) on board. These are needed to provide electrical power in the far reaches of the solar system where sunlight is minimal.

Dan McCleese, Chief Scientist of the Mars Exploration Directorate at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said that the space agency is encouraging Mars planners to look again at using RTGs on the Red Planet.

The idea is gaining momentum as NASA puts the final touches on its new multi-year, $1.5 billion martian exploration program. The revamping of the Mars program follows last year's losses of the Mars Climate Orbiter and the Mars Polar Lander.

An independent panel led by former Lockheed Martin executive Thomas Young is studying those failures and is to issue its report on March 15. NASA plans to reveal its restructured plans for Mars the same day. The agency is expected to announce:

It has canceled a lander spacecraft for 2001 and will instead send one in 2003 that lacks a robotic rover but includes new communications gear to help ground controllers better monitor the lander. The added gear would allow NASA to maintain contact with the spacecraft during its descent to the surface and avoid a repeat of Polar Lander, which vanished without a peep on the way down. It will fly an orbiting spacecraft in 2001 as planned but it will have improved technology that was not aboard the doomed Climate Orbiter.

A mission to return a sample of the martian soil to Earth is still a key scientific goal, but NASA will not be held to a specific time on when it might fly. The mission, which had originally called for separate launches in 2003 and 2005, will still include European participation and will be launched on a French Ariane rocket.

The primary scientific goals at Mars are to search for evidence of past life and investigate the planet's climate and resources. The thread that connects all of those is water and future missions to Mars will strive to find out where the water was on the surface, where it is now and what it did during the transition.

"Let's be bold and say it up front," Weiler said in an interview Thursday. "We're looking for two things. Is there life and can we live on Mars and colonize it. As for the missions, we will fly them when we have a good chance of success. I am not going to sign on the dotted line for any mission unless it stands a good chance of succeeding."

One way to build a more robust exploration of Mars is through nuclear-powered spacecraft. "I'm not saying we're going to use radioactive power sources in the near term," Weiler said. "Something like that takes years to get approved. But people forget that the reason Viking lasted so long on the surface of Mars was because it had one of these."

The Viking 1 and 2 landers were launched in 1975 and arrived at Mars in 1976. Viking 1 lasted until November 1982 and Viking 2 stopped transmitting in April 1980. The solar-powered Polar Lander, by comparison, was designed to last just 90 days, the same life span as that of Mars Pathfinder in 1997.

NASA has flown a total of 25 missions with radioactive power packs since the 1960s.

NASA last sent radioactive material, Plutonium 238, to Mars in 1997. The rover Sojourner carried three radioisotope heater units. Each of the units -- about the size of a C-cell battery -- contained a 0.1 ounce (2.6 grams) of the isotope to keep the vehicle's electronics warm.

As program managers see it, radioactive power would only be needed for spacecraft that land on the surface and any rovers that those craft might carry. Any decision to outfit such landers with nuclear power would have to be made by the White House and would need to be coordinated with such agencies as the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.

"NASA doesn't make a decision by itself to fly nuclear material," Weiler said. "There's a long list of requirements and quite a list of agencies that are involved. It takes years to fly those types of missions."

One reason it takes so long is because such missions tend to touch off protracted legal battles. Anti-nuclear protesters filed suit in federal court to stop both the 1989 launch of the Galileo probe to Jupiter and the 1997 launch of Cassini to Saturn, arguing the missions put Americans at risk from radiation exposure in the event of a launch accident.

"We'll be very much on top of it and organizing to stop it," said Bruce Gagnon, of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space in Gainesville, Florida. "Our concern goes beyond launch problems. It's also the health and safety of workers who have to produce this material. What NASA has in mind is a massive infusion of nuclear material in the space program"

Gagnon was among those filing a federal suit to stop the Galileo and Cassini launches and said his group might do the same with nuclear-powered Mars missions.

In the case of Mars, nuclear power on a spacecraft "solves the problem of what happens at night," said Carl Pilcher, NASA chief of solar system exploration. "At night you get to stay warm. You need a power system for the heaters in order to keep the lander alive. It's thermal cycling, going from warm in the day to cold at night, that kills you at Mars."

Copyright 2000, inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

News Release
Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
Washington, D.C. 20301


February 16, 2000


Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Science and Technology Delores M. Etter announced today plans for the Department of Defense (DoD) to award $24 million to 35 academic institutions in 18 States, including Puerto Rico, to perform research in science and engineering fields important to national defense. Eighty-one projects were competitively selected under the fiscal 2000 Defense Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR). The DEPSCoR is designed to expand research opportunities in States that have traditionally received the least funding in federal support for university research. The average award will be approximately $296,000.

University professors in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico were eligible to receive awards under this competition.

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Army Research Office, the Office of Naval Research, and the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (Science and Technology Directorate) solicited proposals utilizing a Defense-wide Broad Agency Announcement (BAA). The DEPSCoR BAA was published on the Internet and accessed by the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research State Committees, which solicited and selected projects for their state's proposal. In response, 20 proposals consisting of 256 projects were submitted requesting more than $82 million.

March 9, 2000

Biden Joins G.O.P. in Call for a Delay in Missile-Defense Plan


WASHINGTON, March 8 _ Adding weight to a growing bipartisan movement, a senior Democratic senator has warned President Clinton that he should leave the decision on deploying a national missile-defense system to the next administration.

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democrat from Delaware who is the ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told an audience of scientists on Friday at Stanford University that he did not believe that the North Korean missile threat was sufficient to warrant a vastly expensive system that was not technically proven.

Further, Mr. Biden said deploying the system could not only severely upset relations with Russia, but also encourage China to increase sharply its warheads, prompting an arms race in Asia.

Mr. Clinton is scheduled to make a decision on a national missile-defense system in the summer. His top arms negotiators have been talking to the Russians over six months about deploying the system in a way that Moscow might find acceptable.

Mr. Biden stated his opposition after Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska on the Foreign Relations Committee, called for a delay until a new president took office.

Henry A. Kissinger recently wrote that an election year was not the time to proceed on national missile defense.

Mr. Biden, who amplified his comments on Monday in an interview, also cited election year politics as a reason for postponing a decision. Mr. Biden said that he disagreed with White House advisers who say Vice President Al Gore and the Democrats need to proceed with the system to inoculate themselves against Republican criticism of being weak on national defense and that the Democrats would be most successful by campaigning on the strength of the economy, and not allowing the Republicans to turn the focus to foreign policy.

"This is going to cost $30 billion, and there has been no national debate," Mr. Biden added. "This doesn't make sense absent public debate."

In explaining his opposition to Mr. Clinton's making a far-reaching foreign-policy decision under such time pressure, Mr. Biden said he was particularly uneasy with the missile-defense system because he thought that it would essentially mean withdrawal from the Antiballistic Missile Treaty of 1972.

That treaty, which its advocates regard as the cornerstone of arms control, forbids a missile-defense system that protects an entire nation. The administration has been trying to persuade acting President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to amend the ABM treaty so that Mr. Clinton could decide on a system without scrapping the pact. Russia has shown few signs of agreeing.

In his interview, Mr. Biden said he had an alternative idea to answer the threat from North Korea's Taepo Dong missiles, which are believed to be able to deliver strategic warheads to the United States.

Mr. Biden said an Aegis sea-based system with missiles based off the North Korean coast would let the United States intercept the missiles in their ascents. Such a system would not endanger the whole fabric of arms control or threaten nonproliferation safeguards in the way that a national missile defense would, Mr. Biden said.

When Mr. Biden spoke at Stanford, former Defense Secretary William S. Perry was in the audience. Mr. Perry has also expressed reservations about the system's being the best way to counter the threat of long-range missiles from North Korea and in Congressional testimony favored the sea-based system off North Korea.

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