STOP CASSINI Newsletter #41 -- September 12th, 1997

Copyright (c) 1997

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index

Subject: STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER #41 - September 12th, 1997


General information about and within the STOP CASSINI movement. This is a winnable battle, if we hurry.

Sincerely, Russell D. Hoffman, Editor, STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER

**** STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER Volume #41 September 12th, 1997 ****
Today's subjects:

****** VOLUME #41 September 12th, 1997 ******

By Russell D. Hoffman
Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman

*** Another Congressperson calls for Congressional Hearings

We have this report just in:


FCPJ member Brian Keaney ... reported ... that Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) would take the House floor on Sept 16 to deliver a Special Order speech opposing Cassini.


Our unofficial count is that that makes six congresspersons so far!


Contact information can be obtained from Thomas Leavitt's CONGRESSIONAL E-MAIL ADDRESSES AND OTHER INFO web page at the following URL:

It is best to actually try make an immediate appointment to meet with your representative at this late date. (Phone numbers, email addresses, and postal addresses are all available at Mr. Leavitt's web site.)

The Congresspeople are probably right now, finally, at least a little aware that this is an important topic which they must listen to their constituents about.

So go, friends, talk to your congresspeople, and give Democracy a chance...

...Here is one more incentive, from a recent (September 11th, 1997) NASA press release:

"Jeff Lawrence, NASA's Associate Administrator for Legislative Affairs, will be leaving NASA at the end of September to pursue a career in the private sector. Lawrence has served as the agency's top-ranking legislative official since April 19, 1993. He will join Cassidy and Associates as a senior vice president."

So therefore NASA might just be a little disorganized on that phase of their propaganda campaign promoting the dangerous nuclear solution for Cassini. Here is the source URL of the press release:

*** A message from John McConnell, founder of Earth Day

This morning I received a phone call from John McConnell, founder of Earth Day and a remarkable man. He had found the web site somehow and wanted to let me know that he supports our efforts to bring reason to science, in this case more specifically to bring human compassion to NASA endeavors.

Here is a web page describing Mr. McConnell's many accomplishments in more detail:

His site was awarded a Times Pick by the Los Angeles Times on April 21st, 1997.

Mr. McConnell has met with many important scientists over his many decades of work (he was born March 22, 1915 in Davis City, Iowa). On August 13th, 1997 he suffered a massive heart attack but survived and is now convalescing. Rather than send emails of condolence, he requests any such efforts be put into contacting our nation's leaders and leading scientists about the folly of Cassini!

Here is a statement from his web site:


What I was working on when I got the heart attack was to try and get global attention for the Earth Magna Charta and it's Earth Trustee agenda on October 4th, which is both the 40th anniversary of Sputnik and also the Annual Feast Day of St. Francis. The Age of Space which began on October 4th, 1957, has increased our awareness and technology. And we are reminded of the need for values by St. Francis -- the Patron Saint of Ecology and Peace.

"The Spirit and Discovery of Science" combined with the moral values typified by St. Francis, can provide the love and wisdom needed for the rejuvenation of Earth.

My friends, reflect on these things and what you might do to implement the Earth Trustee agenda.

Peace be with you,

John McConnell


The Earth Magna Carta he mentioned is available for reading/downloading at this web site:

*** Another school is debating Cassini and wonders who I am:

Long time readers of this newsletter know that many schools are now debating the Cassini issue. The question is: What can we do to make ALL schools debate Cassini? Surely that is something even the pro-nuclear Cassini people should encourage! I mean, if they thought they could win...

At 01:27 AM 9/12/97 someone you wrote:

Mr. Hoffman, we are debaters for [a] High school in [Maryland]. We are debating the Cassini issue and we have found your work extremely helpful. As required by the rules of debating, we need to be able to provide any pertinent qualifications since we are using you as our primary authority. Thank you for your consideration,


High School Debate Team



Thanks for your email. I am delighted to hear that students in your high school will be debating Cassini and hope you do well in the debate. I hope you feel you are well-armed with information. Are you allowed to bring notes with you to the debate? If so, may I suggest you insist on taking an Internet connection instead? I would!

In answer to your specific question, I am a technologist with nearly 20 years of assembler-language programming behind me, also an environmental writer, and I guess a few other things besides... It's all described at the web site. Please visit my home page for information about me and my software company.

Here is the URL of my home page:

Here is a web page with some more bio information:

I believe that to understand Cassini's dangers requires knowledge in many disciplines. While I cannot claim to have that much knowledge (and in fact wonder exactly who can), I nevertheless believe that I do have a rather broad range of experience which does tend to help me personally grasp what is going on, and if one thing should be abundantly clear from my bio, I at least know how to interview and listen to experts! I don't work in a vacuum! There are many experts who oppose Cassini. If I were to merely name the top ten scientists who have spoke against Cassini, I would be talking about several centuries worth of professional scientific experience, in many different fields.

In public debates about Cassini, you might have noticed how the pro-nuclear Cassini experts use the need for a broad range of knowledge to flip-flop from topic to topic. Don't let your opponents do this to you!

For example when asked about the hazards of vaporized plutonium 238, the pro-nuclear Cassini health expert will reply that NASA says very little will leak out. So, the "expert" becomes unwilling to use his expertise to explain what he knows about the hazards of plutonium 238 vaporization! Instead he relies on NASA to contain the stuff, quoting such statements by NASA spokespeople such as "The RTG's are like a bank vault", then the expert announces that everything is safe, in his learned, professional opinion.

The real kicker, of course, is that the plutonium WILL leak out, according to NASA's own documentation (in a flyby reentry accident, NASA expects for 3% (June 1997) to 33% (June, 1995) to be released in the upper atmosphere, for example. Virtually all other accident scenarios also have some combinations of events which can breach at least some of the plutonium -- and "some" plutonium is a lot.

A good article to see is Horst Poehler's newest one, called Cassini Cancers, at this URL:

NASA recently has been saying that the danger from Cassini's crashing on a flyby accident is about equal to the chance Earth will be hit by a comet something like a 1/2 mile or bigger (maybe it was a mile wide, I forget the exact analogy.) Well, whichever it is, a mile or a half mile comet or whatever, there's a big difference between that risk and the risk from Cassini.

The difference is we have a choice about Cassini.

And besides, NASA's estimates of the number of large asteroids in the universe in general and in the solar system in particular is probably a very inaccurate number, which could be off by several orders of magnitude without a doubt. Interagency guesses on Earth orbital man-made space debris was off by that amount (NASA was one of the represented agencies.)

If I can answer any additional questions please do not hesitate to ask.

Please also note that the web site contains many articles by people other than myself, who have, frankly, much more significant qualifications for the things they say, but who are saying, generally, much the same things as I say!

Thanks again for your email,

Russell Hoffman

*** A letter from a pro-nuclear Cassini student:

Long-time readers of this newsletter know we get letters like this on a regular basis...

At 07:07 PM 9/10/97 someone wrote:

It's a [darned] shame that people like you are so afraid of technological advancement that you are actually protesting this using persuasive jargon when you don't know what you are talking about. If i was not a full time student, i would ardently spend every waking hour protesting against protesting ignoramuses like yourselves. Please rot on this planet if you want, but the dejected state of space exploration does not need to be further impeded by the like of you.



Thank you for your email, shown [above].

It's too bad you don't have time, being a full-time student and all, to learn about what you think are my objections to Cassini.

It's really unbelievable, were I not reading it in front of me, that you would accuse me of being "afraid of technological advancement." Actually, I have been a (small but enthusiastic) factor in that advancement for probably longer than you've been alive. If you manage to find the time, I hope you'll visit my home page to find out some of what I've done, and just how wrong you are on that issue. Here is the URL of my one-man company web site:

If you manage to find some more time after that, I hope you'll decide to actually read the material available at the STOP CASSINI area. You might realize that the "persuasive jargon" is persuasive because it is the truth.

If I "rot on this planet" it will be at least in part because of the polluted condition it has been left in by gung-ho undereducated ra ra fools who have misused science, space, the environment and technology to their own economic advancement rather than for the general welfare of all humanity. For example why do we rely on archaic rocket launch techniques when we could build mag-lev launch systems instead, and completely shut down the worldwide market for unstable rocket-launch systems? America could be this sort of leader, but instead America chooses to slide along at half-effort, which people like you mistake for leading-edge. It's too bad.

I hope by the time you graduate you will have gained some perspective on what your own goals are, and what actions you should take to help make the world a better, more scientific and more rational place. Right now, I must say, you seem mistaken in a number of important matters.

Russell Hoffman

*** Is there a fine line between science and religion?

I relieved an email from a religious group who asked me to check a statement opposing Cassini which they had written. I looked over the first part, but then it started to get into a discussion of the religious significance of the search for life, and I had to stop trying to comment on the article because I did not feel I had the experience necessary to respond. But in apologizing for being unable to comment on the piece, I attempted to describe the reason I believe there should be NO CONFLICT between science and religion. That part of my response is shown below:

OUTGOING EMAIL FROM RDH (slightly modified for clarity)


I do not know why NASA cares so much about "the search for life" on Saturn or elsewhere in the Solar System, which is not to say I see no need for knowledge about the solar system, I merely question that specific goal of the quest. I think the search for more knowledge about life on Earth would make more sense -- what forms of life are currently living in the Tonga Trench, for instance? The Tonga Trench in the Pacific Ocean is NASA's idea of a "safe dumping ground" for nuclear payloads such as Apollo 13's Lunar Lander, yet we hardly know what unique life forms exist there! How many unique species are in an average acre of rain forest? The place to research life and the orgins of life are here on Earth!

But is NASA doing this search because, as you say, they have "materialist religious" needs? I don't know -- I don't know what you mean by that. It does sometimes seem that they are on a search which has a "religious fervor" to it. But do they do this in the hope that some day they will prove the non-existence of God, or the existence thereof? Either reason would be absurd!

I believe that God (if God exists) will never show himself to us (until the end, if he feels like ending it all, or if we manage to). If He were to "prove" His existence, that would make, for ever more and in one fell swoop, the blend of Science and Religion complete. Any proof of God's existence would be, by definition, a scientific proof of God's existence. I do not believe that God will provide that proof. It would rob us of the free will to believe in Him!

I believe that science, when properly done, does not need to conflict with religion --good religions, that is -- because it is in religion's interest to find the most complete scientific answers that mankind is capable of finding. Why? For one thing, because it helps religion find and disavow the quacks and charlatans. And also, the more we know about our world from a scientific point of view, the closer we come to understanding that which is "God" which is, in short, that which we cannot possibly scientifically understand. Thus science both finds and defines the true hand of God. But what is the dividing line? It is not that which we do not understand, because we understand more and more each day! [And yet we understand so very little...] There is no religious reason to stop the search for scientific knowledge, because the more we know of what happens in the world which is NOT the work of the hand of God (assuming science to be something different, somehow), the more we know of what happens that MIGHT BE the word of the hand of God. The search for true scientific answers need not conflict with a belief in God.


Russell D. Hoffman

*** Another NASA press release:


Douglas Isbell/Donald Savage
Headquarters, Washington, DC
September 3, 1997
(Phone: 202/358-1547)

Franklin O'Donnell/Mary Beth Murrill
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA
(Phone: 818/354-5011)

RELEASE: 97-190


[... clip to the interesting part...]

Because of the very dim sunlight at Saturn's orbit, Cassini could not conduct its mission to Saturn on solar power. Electrical power is supplied to Cassini by a set of radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) which convert the heat from the natural decay of plutonium. RTGs have been used on 23 previous U.S. missions. Plutonium dioxide also is used in 117 radioisotope heater units placed on Cassini and Huygens to keep electronics systems at their operating temperatures. These units were most recently used on the Mars Pathfinder mission's Sojourner rover to keep the system from failing during cold Martian nights.



In fact nuclear power sources have been used on 26 previous missions and three of them involved accidents, resulting in the release of at least 2.1 pounds of plutonium 238 into the atmosphere.

NASA knows this is true of course, but pretends that one of these releases (SNAP-9A) does not need to be counted because it was "intentional". But it wasn't! It followed an ACCIDENTAL REENTRY OF THE SPACE CRAFT. The design philosophy then was to incinerate the plutonium intentionally at high altitude, which was in this writer's opinion a criminally negligent design philosophy.

The other two accidents, Apollo 13 and Nimbus-B-1, NASA simply ignores! The RTGs were not the CAUSE of the accident, it's true -- as if that somehow mattered. Atop a rickety rocket is simply not a safe place for the most deadly substance known to science! The actual results of the Apollo accident are not known because the incinerated remains of the Lunar Lander has not been retrieved from the ocean where it fell. The RTG from the Nimbus-B-1 which exploded off the coast of California in 1968 was retrieved (and actually the plutonium was reused in a subsequent mission). That accident was at relatively low-speed so it does not in any way prove the safety of the technology.

*** Global Meditation: September 16th, 1997: a web site.

Barbara Wolf has emailed me telling us about a plan for a Global Meditation day on September 16th, 1997. She recommends it be used to express (or rather, to meditate about) opposition to Cassini.


GLOBAL MEDITATION: September 16, International Day of Peace, 12 noon all time zones,
to counter the potentially deadly Cassini Space Probe.


Yes, let us flood the earth and the earth's atmosphere with PEACE.

The plutonium mission is not compatible with Peace. And so, let us surround the earth and its atmosphere with Peace so that those people who want to do this deadly mission will find themselves out of step.

It is our way to play a tune of Peace. When one marches to a tune, he finds himself marching according to the rhythm of the tune. Those who are out of step, despite themselves, find they are beginning to march in tune with the others.

We cannot wait until the day of the launch, October 6, to play the tune of Peace. It would be too late to stop the plutonium mission...


*** A suggestion for a Columbus Day anti-Cassini Action in Washington, DC:

Proposition One is an organization which has maintained anti-nuclear vigils in Lafayette Park, at 1601 Pennsylvania Avenue, continuously since 1981. They distributed the following email:


We're thinking about a Columbus Day anti-Cassini action on Sunday, October 12th, outside the White House in Lafayette Park. Anyone know if anyone is planning Columbus Day activities on behalf of or including native americans? Any Seminoles working to stop Cassini? Anyone interested in working with us on this? We have to get our announcement in to the Washington Peace Center calendar by [September 17th, 1997]. Quick response appreciated.

Ellen Thomas
Proposition One Committee
Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil
PO Box 27217, Washington DC 20038
202-462-0757 -- --



Please feel free to post these newsletters anywhere you feel it's appropriate! THANKS!!!

Welcome new subscribers!

Thanks for reading,
Russell D. Hoffman
STOP CASSINI webmaster.


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