Activists Stand their Ground, Even As Cassini Sails Safely Away


Cassini Flyby-Activists – article

Originally posted by Flyby News – 22 August, 1999 – Newsletter

1) Activists Stand their Ground, Even As Cassini Sails Safely Away
2) Notes on Bart Jordan’s Commentary
3) NoFlyby Advisory Board and Ernest Sternglass

1) Activists Stand their Ground, Even As Cassini Sails Safely Away
By Daniel Sorid, Staff Writer – SPACE.COM
Aug 18 1999 16:02:21 ET

They saw it as a ball of poison.

Across the world, they yelled and held up banners to protest its flyby of Earth.

They said the craft, careening through space at 42,000 miles per hour, had a good chance of slapping into the Earth’s atmosphere and spreading dangerous radiation throughout the planet.

In protests, on Web sites, in papers, and in speeches, they claimed that thousands, even millions, could die.

No one did.

On early Wednesday morning the Cassini probe, carrying 72 pounds of radioactive fuel, whizzed by Earth — without incident — on its way to Saturn.

But as long as there’s been a Cassini, there have been vocal anti-Cassini activists. For two years, they’ve spoken out on the craft’s plutonium dioxide power, made with the radioactive element used in nuclear weapons. (The plutonium used on Cassini, though, is not weapons-grade.)

Come launch time — in October 1997 — the protesters staked out the Cape Canaveral launch site to try to stop the probe.

The launch went off without a hitch.

And when the craft was on its way back to Earth after spiraling around Venus for a gravity boost, the opponents once again unfurled their banners.

Jonathan Mark was one of the protest leaders. His website, “Stop Cassini Earth Flyby,” was a kind of Protest Central for opponents of the craft.

On it, there are impassioned pleas to stop the mission with headlines like “NASA Misleads the World,” and “The Cassini Gamble.”

There are links to scholarly papers on the risks of the mission to the planet and its inhabitants and to political dispatches decrying the military’s role in space research.

You can sign up for legal action and send off thoughts to world leaders.

And you can view pictures of the worldwide protests: of grandmothers making their voices heard, and Bangladeshis taking a stand.

But now that Cassini passed by safely, was it all for naught?

“Protesting against Cassini wasn’t a mistake,” Mark said. “It’s significant, and I’m glad there wasn’t any accident.”

Mark, who sends his anti-Cassini newsletter to over 1,000 subscribers, still believes that plutonium-powered spacecraft could one day play a role in destroying life on Earth.

“We’re living at a time when human beings don’t have to survive on this planet,” he said. “We can go extinct like the dinosaurs.”

On the other side of the world, the General Secretary of the Bangladesh Astronomical Society had a similar reaction.

“Our calculation was not wrong, because we did not say that it would definitely fall on the Earth during its closest approach with Earth,” F.R. Sarker said. “We were more concerned about the radioactive materials Cassini has been carrying on board.”

NASA, on the other hand, couldn’t resist a little gloating.

“We told you so,” chimed in Mary Beth Murrill, spokeswoman for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, when asked what she would say to the anti-Cassini protesters.

The space agency had said all along that a disaster was extremely unlikely, with a probability of less than one-in-a-million.

Another NASA spokesman, Douglas Isbell, said the protesters’ concerns were legitimate, but that mission scientists had taken extra precautions to prevent an accident.

NASA is planning eight more missions that will rely on the same kind of plutonium power generators used on Cassini, Isbell said.

Radioisotope thermoelectric generators, or RTGs, power Cassini. They are primarily used on missions to the outer solar system, where the sun’s rays are too weak to be a usable source of power.

RTGs rely on the heat produced as plutonium, a radioactive element, decays. A converter changes that heat into electricity, which powers the craft.

The next launch of an RTG-powered craft is scheduled for the end of 2003, the Europa Orbiter, which will study a moon of Jupiter.

Those future launches are keeping protesters from packing up their signs.

“Concern about future plutonium launches is my main concern,” Mark said.

He plans to leave his website up as a reminder of the Cassini protests, though daily updates will probably stop.

And in Bangladesh, the Cassini probe’s success has left a residue of worry.

“It is true, we are lucky as there was no accident with Cassini,” said Sarker, whose group led an anti-Cassini protest march on June 18. “But we are unlucky because this would encourage NASA to launch more space probes in the future with plutonium dioxide until an accident really takes place.”

stop cassini flyby

Links and images in this article added by Flyby News

2) Notes on Bart Jordan’s Commentary

In the commentary, Bart Jordan provided simple equations that gave evidence that ancient cultures, such as the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaean, knew all about Uranium, Neptunium and Plutonium, and why they stayed away from developing certain life endangering isotopes.

The Notes were written by Bart Jordan in response to many queries from the scientific community and from individuals in NASA. URL Source:

The BIG Surprise
out of the
Cassini-Earth flyby


Reports on Bart Jordan and evidence
of advanced pre-ice-age civilizations.

3) NoFlyby Advisory Board and Ernest Sternglass

Following is a brief report from Ernest Sternglass on his important work that shows physical evidences from baby teeth of the harm being committed by nuclear pollution.

His work and that of others on the NoFlyby Advisory Board, (with many of these members continuing their work on the Board for the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space) is very special and truly inspirational.

Please keep engaged with these good people and continue to support efforts for peace in space and everywhere else. For the list of those on the NoFlyby advisory board, see: .

Note: Karl Grossman will be speaking at a Rally this Sunday in Brattleboro, VT on the decommissioning of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Dave Dellinger and music with the reggae music of the Black Rebels and other speakers.

Karl Grossman

As NoFlyby settles down, I wish to thank us all for sharing and not allowing Cassini to go unnoticed. Perhaps we can help the military evaluate the strategic advantages of going in another direction, peace in space and responsible technologies to benefit and not threaten life.

Many thanks for your support on the campaign to stop and expose the high risk Cassini Earth flyby.

Jonathan Mark noflyby{at]yahoo(dot}com
Action Site to Stop Cassini Earth Flyby





= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

From: Ernest Sternglass

I agree that we need to find ways for people around the globe to work together on the technology that will allow us to explore the universe and secure the peace on our globe in such a way that it will not endanger the health and survival of our species.

What my colleagues and I in the Radiation and Public Health Project are working on, namely the baby tooth study to be released to the public September 21 (See our web site: can help to achieve this. Our results show that radioactive fission products represented by strontium-90 in the teeth of newborns have been rising alarmingly in areas close to or downwind from nuclear reactors, and that in these same areas breast cancer and childhood cancers have been rising most strongly since the early 1980s despite the fact that all atmospheric bomb tests ended in 1980.

It implies that we have grossly underestimated the leakages from nuclear facilities and the amount of damage bomb fallout and nuclear plant releases have done to human health since the nuclear age began.

By involving people all over the globe in the collection of baby teeth, we can bring this message to millions, and prepare public opinion to respond to the call for the abolition of nuclear weapons and an end to the production of plutonium in nuclear reactors for both weapons and the generation of electricity both on Earth and for the operation of satellites in space.

Ernest Sternglass


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Flyby News is educational and nonviolent in focus,
and has supported critical campaigns for a healthy
environment, human rights, justice, and nonviolence,
since the launch of NASA’s Cassini space probe in 1997.

News Fit to Transmit in the Post Cassini Flyby Era


About flybynews

Flyby News (FN) came out of the campaign to stop or expose the high risk NASA Cassini (plutonium) Earth flyby. FN's first campaign at the turn of the millennium was to prevent the expansion of the arms race and US domination of the planet with space-based weapons. Yet the theft of democracy in the US 2000 election, the Supreme Court appointment of George W. Bush as US President, and the events of September 11, 2001, led to the termination of the 1972 Ballistic Missile Treaty, along with many other actions of crimes against humanity and civil freedom. The exploitation and cover-up of September 11, 2001 led to illegal, deceptive wars, which has accelerated climate change, and the downfall of financial and social justice. Flyby News is educational and nonviolent in focus, and has supported critical campaigns for a healthy environment, human rights, justice, peace, and nonviolence, since the launching of NASA's Cassini space probe in 1997. Flyby News' Fair Use Policy and much more information @
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9 Responses to Activists Stand their Ground, Even As Cassini Sails Safely Away

  1. Pingback: Resources for Reclaiming a Lost USA Republic | flybynews

  2. simple-touriste says:

    Why would atoms of Pu seek humans?

    • flybynews says:

      If I understand your question correctly, the radioactive plutonium, if Cassini inadvertently entered Earth’s atmosphere from outer space, following the two flybys around Venus and traveling at such speeds, according to the NASA Environmental Impact Statement would have had the potential to expose five billion people to 99% or more of the radiation from the plutonium. The Pu atomized would have been in a breathable and ingest-able form, releasing 400,000 Curies of plutonium in fine particles throughout our atmosphere. This would more than double the human-made plutonium activity in the atmosphere.

      • simple-touriste says:

        I don’t understand your numbers: what is that 99% What does the 1% become?

  3. simple-touriste says:


    Click to access Mars2020_Final_EIS.pdf

    “No radiological fatalities would be expected to occur as a result of any accident”

  4. flybynews says:

    Cassini had a record amount 72.3 lbs (32,8 kg) of deadly plutonium on board approached Earth at record speeds in excess of 81,000 mpn (133,150 km). If it hit the atmosphere on that flyby of Earth, it would have led to many thousands of fatalities over time from cancer. The planned manned mission to Mars will not happen in our lifetime, but in any case if they went there directly, instead of starting off in the opposite direction to conduct a flyby around Venus first, would pose less risk than a flyby. Remember, the skin can protect someone from it entering their bodies, but in atomized particles can easily enter the human body.. This link to “No Safe Dose “- a Letter of Concern by Dr. John W. Gofman explains how such particle could do so much damage:

    May 11, 1999

    To Whom It May Concern:

    During 1942, Robert E. Connick and I led the “Plutonium Group” at the University of California, Berkeley, which managed to isolate the first milligram of plutonium from irradiated uranium. (Plutonium-239 had previously been discovered by Glenn Seaborg and Edwin McMillan.) During subsequent decades, I have studied the biological effects of ionizing radiation — including the alpha particles emitted by the radioactive decay of plutonium.

    By any reasonable standard of biomedical proof, there is no safe dose, which means that just one decaying radioactive atom can produce permanent mutation in a cell’s genetic molecules. My own work showed this in 1990 for xrays, gamma rays, and beta particles (Gofman 1990: Radiation-Induced Cancer from Low-Dose Exposure). For alpha particles, the logic of no safe dose was confirmed experimentally in 1997 by Tom K. Hei and co-workers at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) Vol.94, pp.3765-3770, April 1997, “Mutagenic Effects of a Single and an Exact Number of Alpha Particles in Mammalian Cells”).

    It follows from such evidence that citizens worldwide have a strong biological basis for opposing activities which produce an appreciable risk of exposing humans and others to plutonium and other radioactive pollution at any level. The fact that humans cannot escape exposure to ionizing radiation from various natural sources — which may well account for a large share of humanity’s inherited afflictions — is no reason to let human activities increase the exposure to ionizing radiation. The fact that ionizing radiation is a mutagen was first demonstrated in 1927 by Herman Joseph Muller, and subsequent evidence has shown it to be a mutagen of unique potency. Mutation is the basis not only for inherited afflictions, but also for cancer.

    Very truly yours,

    John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.
    Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Cell Biology

    • simple-touriste says:

      There is overwhelming evidence that low radiation dose rate, which is part of nature, isn’t harmful. It may even be essential to life.

      There is zero epidemiological data showing harm at low dose rate.

      • flybynews says:

        if not inside the body natural occurring radiation is safe… Cassini’s radiation would have been atomized into small particles if it had crashed back in Earth’s atmosphere and the radiation could have been dispersed in a breathable form to enter inside billions of bodies from food and air contamination with a toxic substance that could be passed down to generations. Going to Mars from Earth would not present as much risk as a high speed Earth flyby with such radiation on board..

      • simple-touriste says:

        “if not inside the body natural occurring radiation is safe…”

        How is radiation from outside the body different?

        Radiation is radiation!

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