NOTING THAT the United States along with other member states of the United Nations (UN) signed the United Nations Outer Space Treaty (1967) which affirmed that "the exploration and the use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all [humanity]",

NOTING ALSO that the United States along with other member states of the UN created an expectation in the General Assembly's Resolution of International Co-operation in the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (1981) that "the common interest of [humanity would be served] in promoting the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes and in continuing efforts to extend to all States the benefits",

RECALLING THAT the United States along with other member states of the United Nations undertook to prevent the transfer to other states of substances or activities that could be harmful to human health or the environment (Rio Declaration, UNCED),

RECALLING ALSO THAT the United States along with other member states of the United Nations have endorsed the precautionary principle -a principle of international customary law- which affirms that, where there is an irreversible threat to human health or the environment, the lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason to postpone measures to prevent the threat.

AWARE THAT, whereas leading scientists from the global community are sufficiently concerned about the potential threat posed by the proposed Cassini fly-by mission, there is grave reason to justify measures to prevent that threat, and

CONCERNED THAT despite international protests - including warnings from leading scientists around the world, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration launched the Cassini space probe on October 15, 1997 on a 7-year flight to Saturn, and


(i) THAT because Cassini contains 72.3 pounds (32.8 kg, launch weight) of radioactive Plutonium-dioxide (mostly Plutonium-238), it poses global public health threat if NASA follows through with its plans to return it from Venus to approach Earth (for a so-called Earth Fly-By) to increase its speed for the next leg of the journey on its way to Saturn, and

(ii) THAT Cassini is scheduled for the fly-by on August 18, 1999, hurtling back to Earth at record speed of 42,300 miles-an-hour (11.75 miles-a-second), and

(iii) THAT Plutonium is one of the most lethal substances known; and since Plutonium-dioxide is not water soluble it is generally accepted that

a) a millionth of a gram of Plutonium-238, is sufficient to virtually guarantee a lung cancer when lodged in a person's lung,

b) Plutonium-239 is also extremely carcinogenic, and even though by weight, it is believed to be nearly 300 times less carcinogenic than Plutonium-238, still Dr. John W. Gofman, co-discoverer of Uranium-233, and American hero of WWII, eminent nuclear physicist and physician who first isolated working quantities of plutonium in the 1940s, has estimated that just two or three micrograms of Plutonium-239 is sufficient to cause lung cancer, however

c) in medical science there has been no known minimal lethal dose of Plutonium-238 and Plutonium-239 established yet, and

(iv) THAT a navigational error or accident could cause a re-entry into Earth's atmosphere, taking Cassini only seconds to disintegrate with the largest amount (in Curies) of Plutonium of any known space probe getting at least partially vaporized into a fine aerosol with most particles in the 5 to 58 micron size with the average around 10 microns according to NASA, and

(v) THAT such a size of vaporized particulate matter is known throughout medical science as that which is most likely to be inhaled and lodge in a person's lung, and

(vi) THAT such a particle is a known and significant cause of lung cancer, or if the particle travels through the body, leukemia, birth defects, and other severe health problems, and

(vii) THAT according to NASA "The 1995 Cassini EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] determined [a release of Plutonium had the] potential for substantial impacts on the human environment" (Final Environmental Impact Statement, June 1997, page 1, 4. paragraph), and as well as on the global ecosystem, and

(viii) THAT according to NASA's Environmental Impact Statement a Cassini fly-by re-entry accident could expose five-billion people to the radiation from the Plutonium, and

(ix) THAT recently two NASA Titan IV rockets, the same rocket on which Cassini was launched, exploded, and

(x) THAT the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in its Cassini Earth fly-by plan report of May 1997 lists 18 different types of malfunctions that may occur, including

a) electrical short-circuits such as the short circuit which caused a Titan IV to explode last year, on August 12, 1998, and

b) meteors (a new type of asteroid, just discovered this year portends the possibility of others yet undetected: the annual Perseid meteor shower is expected in August, the month of the scheduled Earth Fly-By) or any one of the millions detected and undetected natural and man-made space debris causing disruption of the Cassini when struck by any of these objects, and

c) erroneous ground commands, an unavoidable human factor, which could send the spacecraft out of control, and

(xi) THAT despite NASA's claims that the Plutonium containers "were designed to withstand re-entry" into our atmosphere (FEIS p. 2-17, 20 et al.), the July 1997 Safety Evaluation Report (SER), issued by a Nuclear Safety Review Panel consisting of a representative of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Dept. of Energy, Dept. of Defense, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and NASA, noted that they were not designed to withstand the heat of an accidental re-entry at the planned fly-by speed of over 10 miles per second (p. 3-24), and

(xii) THAT the said July 1997 Safety Evaluation Report revealed for the first time that, since the Cassini aeroshell casings around the plutonium cells have not been designed to withstand the heat of an accidental high speed re-entry characteristic of the fly-by maneuver the number of estimated cancer fatalities in such an accident could be as high as "several tens of thousands", and

(xiii) THAT NASA estimated that in the event of an accident, the Plutonium could cause 120 fatal cancers (final Supplemental EIS, p.4-9), however, the Safety Evaluation Report (SER) notes that a Plutonium vaporization in a burn-up of the Cassini spacecraft could cause several tens of thousands of fatal lung cancer (P. ES-4), but fails to indicate that a single kilogram of Plutonium contains close to 200 billion trillion Plutonium atoms hence the number of fatal cancers could be very many times higher, and

(xiv) THAT the Safety Evaluation Report notes "the probability of a single inhaled particle inducing a cancer" (P.3-12), which was reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (April 1997) from experiments performed at Columbia University, financed in part by NASA, and

(xv) THAT NASA completely ignored these findings in all their Environmental Impact Statements, and

(xvi) THAT a Cassini fly-by accident represents a threat not only to human health and the environment but also to the economy; by NASA's own figures, if Cassini strikes an inhabited area, the cost of property damage and radioactive cleanup could be as high as ten-trillion dollars ($10,000,000,000,000), and

(xvii) THAT under the little-known U.S. Price-Anderson Act, the U.S. government would limit liability in the event of a nuclear accident such as Cassini to $8.9 billion for U.S. domestic damage and only a total of no more than $100-million for damages to all and any affected countries outside the U.S., no matter how serious the devastation and loss of life, and

(xviii) THAT there are no official plans for emergency preparations in case of a Cassini Earth re-entry, nor have the USA or NASA informed any country in the world of a possible accident with Cassini, nor have been discussed any contingencies like mass shelters, emergency food supply, gas masks, selenium, aloe vera juice, pre-emptive iodine uptake and other emergency mass medication supply, simple decontamination procedures etc. none of which would be highly effective due to Plutonium's severe toxicity, and

(xix) THAT at the time of the launch 78.2% of Cassini's radioactive pay-load consists of the most dangerous Plutonium-238 with a half-life of 87.7 years, and

(xx) THAT at the time of the launch 14.2% of Cassini's dangerous radioactive pay-load consists of Plutonium-239 with a half-life of 24,131 years, with the balance of 7.6% consisting of Plutonium-dioxides containing Plutonium-236 (2.85 years), Plutonium-240 (6,596 years), Plutonium-241 (14.4 years), Plutonium-242 (375,800 years), and small amounts of long-lived actinides and stable impurities, and

(xxi) THAT radioactive compounds from nuclear fallout, such as from Chernobyl and from a possible Cassini burn up upon re-entry, remain in the environment as a danger to living things for up to thousands of years, and

(xxii) THAT it can take months, years for the vaporized Plutonium to settle down on Earth as an invisible, odorless, and tasteless global distributed vapor or dust, and

(xxiii) THAT due to the lag time as the Plutonium aerosol descends to Earth, due to Plutonium's half-life, and the inability to identify the victims of cancer, leukemia or whatever death related to Cassini's Plutonium, and hence

(xxiv) THAT the perpetrators will go unpunished and even will deny (at least publicly) to the deaths, even to their own, that they might have done any such harm, and

(xxv) THAT NASA has misused and ignored the 1981 D.E. Rockey JPL report that indicated not only that for the Galileo mission to Jupiter solar would have worked fine, it additionally stated that it would have been cheaper, and

(xxvi) THAT due to development of recent new high-efficiency deep space solar cells, this safe alternative solar power could have been used for a, although delayed nevertheless safe, Cassini mission to Saturn which NASA has rejected, and

(xxvii) THAT despite the safe alternative solar powers now available, NASA is currently planning at least eight future civilian space missions that will likely use nuclear-fueled thermoelectric generators again, and

(xxviii) THAT setting up the industrial processing system for these radioactive fuel systems allows its additional misuse for military applications which will circle the Earth, and

(xxix) THAT if 72.3 pounds (32.8 kg) of radioactive Plutonium-dioxide were spread world wide in a burn up during Earth fly-by, this would put more Curies of Plutonium into the biosphere than were spread during all above ground nuclear bomb tests, and

(xxx) THAT the petitioners support initiatives by scientists, religious leaders and citizens around the world, calling on NASA to find alternative missions for Cassini NOT involving an Earth fly-by by redirecting Cassini for example to a mission on Venus or Mercury (which planets' orbits are closer to Sun than Earth's), or, as Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of nuclear physics at the City University of New York, has proposed, that Cassini be redirected into the Sun to be destroyed, and

(xxxi) THAT the proposed redirection could be undertaken simply by re-programming the on-board computers, which could be done by NASA at any time, and

(xxxii) THAT the high risk Cassini mission violates

a) at least eight of the United Nations (UN) Outer Space Treaty provisions (January 1967, signed by 91 countries),

b) the UN's Principles Relevant to the Use of Nuclear Power Sources in outer Space (A/RES/47/68, December 14, 1992),

c) the UN's Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects (September 1972, ratified by 73 States),

d) the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights (protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms), (December 10, 1948),

e) the Nuremberg Code (established during the Nuremberg trial, October 1946 - April 1949),

f) the United Nations 1948 Genocide Convention,

g) the United Nations obligations incurred through conventions and commitments made through UN conference action statements related to the protection of the environment,

h) the provisions arising from investigations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), especially referring to IAEA Article III, A.6 "Concerns to ensure safe use of nuclear energy which includes activities making use of the by-products of nuclear energy",

i) the recommendations emanating from the UN's scientific and technological bodies: International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and the United Nations' Committee on Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNCEAR), and furthermore

j) some of the principles contained in the Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO), which recently voted "YES" to the following question "In views of the health and environmental effects, would the use of nuclear weapons by a state in war or other armed conflict be a breach of its obligations under international law, including the WHO constitution? ", and

(xxxiii) THAT on January 15, 1999 Cassini went into a standby mode -meaning: suspended operations on all instruments- for about 15 days due to an error related to tracking, which occurred on its way towards Venus for a late June 1999 fly-by of that planet, and

(xxxiv) THAT on February 2, 1999 the Galileo spacecraft also went into a standby mode and could not be properly controlled and missed some science goals because of it, and

(xxxv) THAT the best (if not the last) possible chance to redirect Cassini, to a trajectory which will cause it to spiral towards the Sun, is at the time of the probe's fly-by of Venus, this coming June 24, 1999, and

(xxxvi) THAT if the opportunity of redirection on June 24, 1999 is missed, Cassini could be left in a trajectory that intersects Earth's own orbit, as stated in NASA's documents: "Failures on legs targeted toward Earth or Venus would tend to result in spacecraft trajectories that remain in the vicinity of Earth's orbit", (1995 EIS for the Cassini mission, page B-4), and

(xxxvii) THAT a Cassini accident is possible and can rank as one of the biggest single human-made ecological disasters in history, and

COGNIZANT THAT any member state of the United Nations has the right to bring a resolution to the United Nations General Assembly, and has the right to have certain violated issues brought before the International Court of Justice to enforce the rules of international law, and

COGNIZANT ALSO THAT the year 1999 is the culmination of the decade devoted to the furtherance of respect for International Law, and

MINDFUL THAT the precautionary principle has the force of international customary law and there is sufficient evidence of the global dangers associated with the re-entry of the Cassini to justify invoking the precautionary principle and thus prevent threat,


THAT we member states of the United Nations call upon the United States to order NASA to invoke the precautionary principle and REDIRECT the Cassini on or before June 24, 1999, and

THAT we member states be willing to enforce the rule of international law, if necessary, by calling upon the International Court of Justice to stay the Cassini, and

THAT the immediate redirection of Cassini be overseen by independent qualified scientist/technicians from different countries and verified to the United Nations, and

THAT, to prevent Cassini's Earth Fly-by and to prevent Cassini's possible uncontrolled trajectory that that intersects Earth's own or any other planet's orbit within the solar system, the Cassini MUST BE REDIRECTED towards the sun to be destroyed as soon as possible, and

THAT all future space missions containing Plutonium-238 and/or Plutonium-239 in any quantity in excess of 0.001 Curie, including military launches, be postponed until this matter has been fully and openly resolved among all nations after honest and open debate about the scientific and social/economic/health/security/welfare issue involved.


To sign a petition written for this resolution, please visit: http://www.animatedsoftware.com/cassini/petition/cass1999.htm