Open Letter to NASA Regarding
76P/West-Kohoutek-Ikemura
June 18, 2000

TO: Charles S. Morris of NASA
csm@encke.jpl.nasa.gov

FR: Marshall Masters
mail@tmgnow.com


Dear Mr. Morris

Following the publication of our article, Mars and July 2000 -- Are We Lambs to the Slaughter, Mr. President? by Melody Mehta on 15 June 2000, which was prompted by NASA's total blackout of 76P data, we were advised of your posting.

We then ran a new search on the NASA website and found some additional, yet very interesting information. Below, is a summary of what we found... after which I have few questions for you.


June 13, 2000
Comet Observation Home Page
http://encke.jpl.nasa.gov/

In the much to do about nothing file... 76P/West-Kohoutek-Ikemura: This comet made a relatively close approach to Mars on June 5 when it was about 6.5 million kilometers (0.04308 AU) from the planet. It did not hit Mars. There are no images of this comet on the web because it is a faint periodic comet that doesn't get very bright even when it is at its brightest. It simply isn't very interesting. [There are quite a few periodic comets, which tend to be faint, that do not have images on the web. This means nothing.] There are no images of the comet when it was close to Mars because Mars and the comet are in conjunction with the Sun. That is, both objects are hidden by the glare of the Sun.

This close approach to Mars is much to do about nothing...

csm 6/13/00

After reading your Comet Observation Home Page posting of 6/13/00 I copied your text description, "76P/West-Kohoutek-Ikemura" and used it to run a search on the NASA website at http://www.nasa.gov/search, which returned the following results:

April 7, 2000
76P/West-Kohoutek-Ikemura
Ephemeris

Comet Fact Sheet
http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/cometfact.html
NASA Official: J. H. King, joseph.h.king@gsfc.nasa.gov
Last Updated: 07 April 2000, DRW

March 3, 2000
76P/West-Kohoutek-Ikemura
Ephemeris

Ephemeris Generation Instructions
http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/eph_help.html
Contact: Webmaster (webmaster@ssd.jpl.nasa.gov)
Last modified: 1999 March 3 15:39


Question #1
Mr. Morris, Why hasn't NASA Published the Latest 76P Ephemeris?

In your June 13, 2000 post you state: "This comet made a relatively close approach to Mars on June 5 when it was about 6.5 million kilometers (0.04308 AU) from the planet." Obviously have access to the current Ephemeris AU, so then why is NASA hesitant to publish this new Ephemeris if as you say, "This close approach to Mars is much to do about nothing..."

Again, given that "This close approach to Mars is much to do about nothing..." why not publish a current Ephemeris for 76P? After all, something as harmless as this could in no way conceivably compromise any national security issues. Doesn't this make sense, Mr. Morris?


Question #2
Mr. Morris, Why Haven't You Done Your Homework?

In your June 13, 2000 post you state: "There are no images of this comet on the web because it is a faint periodic comet that doesn't get very bright even when it is at its brightest."

Frankly Mr. Morris, how could say this. Haven't you ever "Yahooed?" To illustrate the point, I've done your homework for you, and here is a nice picture of 76P/West-Kohoutek-Ikemura at: http://comets.amsmeteors.org/comets/pcomets/076p.html.

According to this page: This image was obtained on 1993 December 6.88 UT with the 225/255/435mm Schmidt camera. Exposure time was 5 minutes and the photographic emulsion was Kodak Pro Gold 400/120. The comet's total magnitude was then about 13. (The image has been cropped by the webmaster to save space and reversed to better represent the visual appearance of the comet.)


Question #3
Mr. Morris, Why is 76P So Uninteresting?

In your June 13, 2000 post you state: "It (76P) simply isn't very interesting."

Oddly enough Mr. Morris, you do not seem to be in lockstep with other folk at NASA. For reference, I point you to a previously referenced article:

Comet Fact Sheet
http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/cometfact.html
NASA Official: J. H. King, joseph.h.king@gsfc.nasa.gov
Last Updated: 07 April 2000, DRW

In this post, NASA Official, J. H. King states: "West-Kohoutek-Ikemura - Original target of New Millenium Deep Space 1 spacecraft in 2000."

According to the DEEP SPACE 1: Quick Facts page at: http://nmp.jpl.nasa.gov/ds1/quick_facts.html, the total cost of the New Millennium Deep Space 1 spacecraft was $152.3M.

OK, so let me see if I've got this right. A bunch of wild and crazy NASA guys with $152.3M to blow, actually had the nerve to think about sending this engineering marvel out to see the 76P flyby of Mars. Obviously, they should have spoken to you first.


Question #4
Mr. Morris, Do You Have X-ray Vision?

In your June 13, 2000 post you state: "It (76P) did not hit Mars," and without so much as even taking a breath you go on to say, "There are no images of the comet when it was close to Mars because Mars and the comet are in conjunction with the Sun. That is, both objects are hidden by the glare of the Sun."

OK, let's see if we can follow this. You know for a fact that 76P did not hit Mars, but Mars and 76P are hidden by the glare of the Sun. OK, you either have X-ray vision (please stay clear of Kryptonite, Mr. Morris) or NASA is watching the 76P flyby of Mars with undisclosed spacecraft? Let's see your evidence of this event NOT occurring. We've shown you ours.


Question #5
Mr. Morris, Why The Glaring Omission?

In your June 13, 2000 post you state, "It (76) did not hit Mars" without making any mention whatsoever any of the moons of Mars. Obviously, your X-ray vision only works with planets and not moons. Why is this Mr. Morris?


Question #6
Mr. Morris, What Gives You The Right to Be Dismissive?

In your June 13, 2000 post you begin with: "In the much to do about nothing file..."

Mr. Morris, you may not feel any particular affinity for those interested in this information, but just what gives you the right to use such a condescending and dismissive tone?

Metaphorically speaking Mr. Morris, you may not want to have these folk over for dinner, but they are the ones pay for the orthodontia in your kid's mouth. They deserve a little more respect, and a whole lot more accountability.

Regards,
Marshall Masters
The Millennium Group


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