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Gods of the New Millennium, pp 232-234

In 1987, NASA made an official announcement to recognize the possible existence of Planet X. The American journal Newsweek reported that: -NASA held a press conference at its Ames Research Center in California last week to make a rather strange announcement: An eccentric 10th planet may - or may not - be orbiting the Sun. John Anderson, a NASA research scientist who was the principal speaker, has hunch Planet X is out there, though nowhere near the other nine. If he is right, two of the most intriguing puzzles of space science might be solved: what caused mysterious irregularities in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune during the nineteenth century? And what killed off the dinosaurs 26 million years ago? Alan Alford wrote:

As the 1980 drew to a close, two things happened. First, the scientific journals began to witness a Planet X debunking campaign and, secondly, NASA began to put more and more resources into expensive space-based telescopes.

The debunking campaign was led by scientists such as K. Crosswell, M. Littman, E. Standish Junior and. Their arguments ranged from the illogical to the bizarre.

Crosswell claimed the planet could not exist to the lack of anomalous effect on the Pioneer and Voyager craft, ignoring the likely possibility that Planet X was below the ecliptic and close to its furthermost aphelion position.

Littman attempted to ignore all astrometric observations prior to 1910, in order to eliminate the anomalies, despite the lack of any basis that these earlier records were incorrect.

Standish made minor adjustments to the data, thereby reducing the discrepancies that indicated a tenth planet - but, by his own admission, the anomalies were only reduced, not totally eliminated.

Finally, Hughes attempted to disprove Planet X via a complex argument that when Solar System was born, there could not have been enough material for a further planet. Clearly, he had not been reading the Enuma Elish, which described Marduk/Planet X as originating from outside the Solar System.

All of these criticisms focused solely on the mathematical anomalies and ignored the other evidence which supported the existence of Planet X. In his 1993 update, Tom Van Flandern stressed that Planet X was still the only explanation for the strange origin of the Neptune satellite system and the unusual features of Pluto and Charon. He also put forward important new evidence on deviations in several cometary orbits. Van Flandern emphasized that the perturbations in both the cometary and planetary orbits became progressively greater the further one went out into the Solar System, strongly suggesting a single body possible twice as far from the Sun as Pluto.

While the astronomers were hunting for Planet X, the American government began to pump unprecedented funds into the hugely expensive Hubble telescope. This spacebased telescope was finally launched on April 20th 1990 only to be found defective. In November 1993, its vision was corrected by a giant contact lens, fitted in space at a cost of $700 million.

Meanwhile the European Space Agency was building its Infrared Space Observatory, which it successfully launched in November 1995. Unlike, Hubble, which is an optical telescope, the ESAs telescope is designed to detect infrared radiation. It can thus peek into the darkest depths of space with a reputed ability to spot the heat from a snowman at a distance of 60 miles.

If that seems sophisticated, then what would we make of the latest plans from NASA? In December 1995 Nature magazine reported a NASA plan to launch a telescope into deep space possible as far as Jupiter. NASA attempted to justify such an extreme location by citing a need to reduce image degradation from atmospheric disturbance. Officially, this project is designed to detect large planets in neighboring star systems. However, moving a telescope from Earth to Jupiter will make such marginal difference relative to 42 light years of space-distance(around one six thousandth of one per cent difference to be precise) that we must all scratch our heads and wonder why NASA wish to spend $ 1,000 million dollars or more in this way. On the other hand, if the search is not for planets 42 light years away, but for a distant planet within our own Solar System, then the plan begins to make sense.