THE CASSINI QUESTIONS
by gary d. goodwin & Raymond Ward
So you think that Cassini sailed on by us so we can breath easier? More questions: What kind of pride does it take - what kind of self importance must one experience to take such risks? And what will be the next attempt by these folks that use American tax dollars without the strict consent of the American Public, to carry out their self indulgence? Where's the review by a non-ingroup board? It will likely never happen.
Here's a letter, representative of 99% of the emails that we have recieved concerning this event:
An important consideration regarding Cassini's payload of Plutonium, and one more realistic a possibility than fission, is simple radioactive fallout. The Chernobyl disaster involved about 3 lbs of material. So imagine 72 lbs of pure weapons-grade plutonium vaporizing in the Earth's atmosphere. Just one gram of Plutonium can kill you quite rapidly when ingested. I like your site. Thanks. Name withheld
On August 18th at 8:24 P.M.(SEE UPDATE BELOW!), pacific coast time, the Saturn bound Cassini orbiter will be passing extremely close to the Earth. This procedure is done to "slingshot" the satellite at a greater speed to its final destination. Of course "this has been done before". So what's the big deal?
The following message appeared this a.m. (8/17/99) on the NASA Cassini website:
"With another flawless maneuver, the Saturn-bound Cassini spacecraft today successfully executed the final adjustment to its flight path for a flyby of Earth that will occur Tuesday, August 17 at 8:28 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (August 18 at 03:28 Universal Time)."
The spacecraft has apparently come in
sooner than expected and with the additonal burn (for what reason we
do not know) has trimmed off nearly 24 hours of the maneuver.
Cassini has 72 pounds of pure plutonium aboard. Below is the container that will carry the radioactive plutonium and provide the fuel for the journey. It's approximate size in old fashion terms is 10X20 Cubits!
To read an excellent history of the problem you should read the following write-ups:
AT LAFAYETTE PARK, WASHINGTON, DC PROTESTING THE CASSINI
RUSSELL D. HOFFMAN
NASA's side of the story can be read here
The primary problem is that there have been just too many accidents the last two years. In fact, NASA is in danger of losing approximately 1.3 billion dollars in funding, primarily because of the number of failed recent rocket launches. There are several problems including severe recent solar activity that could affect the satellite's trajectory - remember the loss of the "beeper" satellite a few months ago and the AT&T satellite last year due to the effects of electrical charges from giant solar flares/CME's????? What's so different about Cassini?
The big difference is that Cassini has been projected to come very close to the earth at magnificent speeds! Numbers ranging from 300 miles above our heads to now a conservative 712 miles, it will speed past us. Or will it? I certainly hope so! It will be traveling at approximately 35,000 miles an hour! And gaining 11,000 miles per hour! Making a total speed of 46,000 miles per hour. Just a quick question here:
At what speed and temperature does FISSION of plutonium occur?
Does this scare you? It certainly does me! And according to several physicists mentioned in the article cited above, it scares them too.
Can planets "capture" objects...comets...meteors...SATELLITES? Here's a couple of examples:
This comet was captured by Jupiter in 1929 and eventually hit Jupiter. Not a popular story until this next object:
This of course was Shoemaker Levy 9 - captured once again by Jupiter. No one knows how many comets are captured by the much larger sun, but recently the SOHO satellite has imaged over 80 "sun-grazing" comets. This is only in the last two years.
You'll noticed I didn't use the term "captured by GRAVITY". It hasn't been proven to me that this is exactly how it works! I personally would opt for some electromagnetic influence on these objects by the larger planets.
So what will happen the evening of the 17th, when Cassini makes its close approach?
No predictions here! Merely simple caution mixed with some distinct fear. I sincerely hope absolutely nothing! But I must wonder - why are *We* the tax paying public paying for this?????
So what are your plans the evening of the 17th?