Mapping Dan Brown’s Deception Point (2001)

August 20, 2009

In his novel entitled Deception Point (2001) Dan Brown links scientific publications based on results from NASA, etc to offer fictional scenarios using consultants with various forms of expertise to enhance believability and to pull readers into his imaginary worlds of knowledge and power, corruption and politics and leading edge technological and scientific research.

Using My Google Maps app I am mapping the adventures of Rachel Sexton, daughter of US Presidential candidate, Senator Sedgewick Sexton. Rachel Sexton works for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), Fairfax, Virginia, as a gister, “gisting or data reduction required analyzing complex reports and distilling their essence or gist into concise, single page briefs (Brown 2001-21).”

Selected Timeline

1951-06-19 The parties to the North Atlantic Treaty signed in Washington on 4 April, 1949, agreed to the NATO Status of Forces Agreement in 1951 allowing members to have forces of one Party may be sent, by arrangement, to serve in the territory of another Party; Bearing in mind that the decision to send them and the conditions under which they will be sent, in so far as such conditions are not laid down by the present Agreement, will continue to be the subject of separate arrangements between the Parties concerned. Under that agreement the RAF Menwith Hill is made available to the US Department of Defense (DoD). RAF Menwith Hill is situated off the A59 Skipton Road, approximately nine miles west of Harrogate in North Yorkshire and occupies about one square mile of moorland. Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) is entitled to possession of the site and retains control over its use and its facilities, though the administration of the base is the responsibility of the US authorities. The base comprises family housing, community facilities and high-technology installations and structures set on the southern edge of the Yorkshire Dales, just outside the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. RAF Menwith Hill works closely with local and national authorities on all matters relating to planning, conservation and the environment. wiki+

1950s Echelon, a global surveillance network, “was set up in Cold War days to provide the US goverment with intelligence data about Russia. One of the main contractors is Raytheon. Lockheed Martin has been involved in writing software for it. Since then it has expanded into a general listening facility, an electronic vacuum cleaner, sucking up the world’s telephone conversations. Information about it’s existence has been reluctantly revealed, prompted by scandals such as the recordings of Princess Diana’s telephone calls by the NSA (Mellor 2004-10-15).” In 1966 the National Security Agency took on responsibility for the U.S. operation of the site, expanding the capabilities to monitor international leased line communications transiting through Britain. The site was then one of the earliest to receive sophisticated early IBM computers, with which NSA automated the labour-intensive watch-list scrutiny of intercepted but unenciphered telex messages. The site is alleged to be part of the ECHELON system, monitoring civilian communications satellites. During the early 1970s Menwith Hill appears to have been made capable of intercepting the downlink of civilian communication satellites, landed over northern Europe, when the first of more than eight large satellite communications dishes were installed.” Brown refers to the NRO/NSA listening post in Menwith Hill as part of the technology that saves the lives of his heroine Rachel and the scientists adrift on ice that has just calved off the Milne Ice Shelf. Rachel thuds out a low tech Morse code using her ice pick hoping the NRO’s Classic Wizard Global Surveillance System and the Cray computers would decipher her pounding and locate them.

mid-1970s SNC meteorites consisting of 12 meteorites led to speculation that the SNC meteorites may have originated from a planet-sized “parent body” in the inner solar system. Since it was first suggested in the mid-1970′s that this parent body may have been the planet Mars, intensive study has not only upheld this radical theory, but also provided a convincing foundation of evidence to support it. Careful study of the nakhlite group of meteorites conducted in the early- and mid-1970s by such workers as Papanastassiou and Wasserburg (1974) demonstrated that the nakhlite meteorites exhibited an anomalously young isochron crystallization age of 1.37 billion years, as determined by the rubidium-strontium [Rb-Sr] dating methodWeisstein 1996-2007.”

1975-1982 “NASA’s Viking Mission to Mars was composed of two spacecraft, Viking 1 and Viking 2, each consisting of an orbiter and a lander. The primary mission objectives were to obtain high resolution images of the Martian surface, characterize the structure and composition of the atmosphere and surface, and search for evidence of life. Viking 1 was launched on August 20, 1975 and arrived at Mars on June 19, 1976. The first month of orbit was devoted to imaging the surface to find appropriate landing sites for the Viking Landers. On July 20, 1976 the Viking 1 Lander separated from the Orbiter and touched down at Chryse Planitia (22.48° N, 49.97° W planetographic, 1.5 km below the datum (6.1 mbar) elevation). Viking 2 was launched September 9, 1975 and entered Mars orbit on August 7, 1976. The Viking 2 Lander touched down at Utopia Planitia (47.97° N, 225.74° W, 3 km below the datum elevation) on September 3, 1976. The Orbiters imaged the entire surface of Mars at a resolution of 150 to 300 meters, and selected areas at 8 meters. The lowest periapsis altitude for both Orbiters was 300 km. The Viking 2 Orbiter was powered down on July 25, 1978 after 706 orbits, and the Viking 1 Orbiter on August 17, 1980, after over 1400 orbits. The Orbiter images are available from NSSDC on CD-ROM and as photographic products. These images have been converted to digital image mosaics and maps , and these are also available from NSSDC on CD-ROM. An index giving the latitude and longitude of each Viking Orbiter image is available at the Viking FTP site. The Viking Landers transmitted images of the surface, took surface samples and analyzed them for composition and signs of life, studied atmospheric composition and meteorology, and deployed seismometers. The Viking 2 Lander ended communications on April 11, 1980, and the Viking 1 Lander on November 13, 1982, after transmitting over 1400 images of the two sites. Many of these images are also available from NSSDC online and as photographic products. Further information on the spacecraft, experiments, and data returned from the Viking missions can be found in the September 30, 1977 issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research, “Scientific Results of the Viking Project”, vol. 82, no. 28 (Williams 2005).”

1986 “Hydrothermal plumes are created and sustained by the heat of volcanic processes along the Mid-Ocean Ridge system that circles the globe. Hydrothermal systems consists of circulation zones where seawater interacts with rock, thereby changing chemical and physical characteristics of both the seawater and the rock. The altered seawater, called hydrothermal fluid, is injected back into the ocean at hydrothermal vent fields and forms hydrothermal plumes. These plumes are often black or white with the color coming from mineral particles that precipitate rapidly as hot hydrothermal fluids (with temperatures as high as 340oC) mix with cold seawater (usually about 1-2oC) at or just below the vent orifice. “ NOAA PMEL Vents Program. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Department of Commerce. “What is a hydrothermal plume?

1989 Squidgygate refers to the pre-1990 telephone conversations between Diana, Princess of Wales and a close friend, James Gilbey, and to the controversy surrounding how those conversations were recorded. A tape recording of a conversation purporting to have taken place between the Princess of Wales and James Gilbey on New Year’s Eve 1989 was submitted by a UK newspaper for technical analysis. Mr Gilbey was supposed to have been using a cellular telephone, and the Princess of Wales to have been on a normal telephone line at Sandringham.

1992 The Sun newspaper publicly revealed the tapes’ existence in an article entitled “Squidgygate”, which is a cultural reference to the American Watergate scandal of the early 1970s.

1984-12-27 ALH 84001, the first meteorite found by a research team of US meteorite hunters from the ANSMET project in the research season of 1984-12-27 in the Allan Hills (-76° 55′ 13.00″, +156° 46′ 25.00″) an especially meteorite-rich area in the Trans-Antarctic Mountains lm of US meteorite hunters from the ANSMET project. In 1996-08 when NASA scientists announced that ALH 84001 might contain evidence for microscopic fossils of Martian bacteria it became a mass media sensation. See also wiki.The meteorite, ALH84001, was discovered in 1984 in the Allan Hills region of Antarctica Its research name indicates that it was the first meteorite found during the 1984 research season in the Allan Hills ALH.

1996 “A group of scientists led by David McKay of NASA’s Johnson Space Center published an article in the 16 August 1996 issue of Science magazine announcing the discovery of evidence for primitive bacterial life on Mars. An examination of a meteorite found in Antarctica and believed to be from Mars shows: 1) hydrocarbons which are the same as breakdown products of dead micro-organisms on Earth, 2) mineral phases consistent with by-products of bacterial activity, and 3) tiny carbonate globules which may be microfossils of the primitive bacteria, all within a few hundred-thousandths of an inch of each other. Based on age dating of the meteorite, the following scenario has been proposed: The original igneous rock solidified within Mars about 4.5 billion years ago, about 100 million years after the formation of the planet. (Based on isotope ages of the igneous component of the meteorite); Between 3.6 and 4 billion years ago the rock was fractured, presumably by meteorite impacts. Water then permeated the cracks, depositing carbonate minerals and allowing primitive bacteria to live in the fractures; About 3.6 billion years ago, the bacteria and their by-products became fossilized in the fractures. (Based on isotope ages of the minerals in the fractures); 16 million years ago, a large meteorite struck Mars, dislodging a large chunk of this rock and ejecting it into space. (Based on the cosmic ray exposure age of the meteorite); 13,000 years ago, the meteorite landed in Antarctica (Williams 2005).” See also “Using scanning electron microscopy and laser mass spectroscopy, a team led by David S. McKay identified polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the meteorite, as well as globules of carbonate and the minerals magnetite and iron sulfide. The carbonate globules are small elongated features resembling similar ones found on Earth which are believed to have formed in association with bacteria. McKay et al. (1996) determined their age to be approximately 3.6 billion years. All the unusual compounds found in the meteorite are associated with bacterial activity on Earth, PAHs with decay products of microorganisms and magnetite and iron sulfide with anaerobic bacteria. However, the presence of these compounds is not necessarily diagnostic for the presence of bacteria. McKay and his coworkers appear to have excluded the possibility that any of their discoveries represent terrestrial contamination, so the constituents they describe presumably must have formed while the meteorite was still on the surface (or shallow subsurface) of Mars. While the reported discoveries are intriguing and consistent with formation through biological activity (especially when taken together), this conclusion requires additional confirmation. It should be recalled that initial experiments on soil samples from one of the Viking landers were heralded as clear evidence of organic material, whereas subsequent laboratory work showed that the observed results could be reproduced with entirely inorganic soil constituents. While the presence of past life on Mars would be a scientific discovery of epic proportions and warrants the closest possible scrutiny, it is premature at this juncture to state that the existence of life on Mars, past or present, has been conclusively demonstrated Weisstein 1996-2007.”

1996 President Clinton and his science and technology adviser, Dr. Jack Gibbons, commented on the announcement by NASA. “This is the product of years of exploration and months of intensive study by some of the world’s most distinguished scientists. Like all discoveries, this one will and should continue to be reviewed, examined and scrutinized. It must be confirmed by other scientists. But clearly, the fact that something of this magnitude is being explored is another vindication of America’s space program and our continuing support for it, even in these tough financial times. I am determined that the American space program will put it’s full intellectual power and technological prowess behind the search for further evidence of life on Mars. First, I have asked Administrator Goldin to ensure that this finding is subject to a methodical process of further peer review and validation. Second, I have asked the Vice President to convene at the White House before the end of the year a bipartisan space summit on the future of America’s space program. A significant purpose of this summit will be to discuss how America should pursue answers to the scientific questions raised by this finding. Third, we are committed to the aggressive plan we have put in place for robotic exploration of Mars. America’s next unmanned mission to Mars is scheduled to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center in November. It will be followed by a second mission in December. I should tell you that the first mission is scheduled to land on Mars on July the 4th, 1997 — Independence Day. It is well worth contemplating how we reached this moment of discovery. More than 4 billion years ago this piece of rock was formed as a part of the original crust of Mars. After billions of years it broke from the surface and began a 16 million year journey through space that would end here on Earth. It arrived in a meteor shower 13,000 years ago. And in 1984 an American scientist on an annual U.S. government mission to search for meteors on Antarctica picked it up and took it to be studied. Appropriately, it was the first rock to be picked up that year — rock number 84001. Today, rock 84001 speaks to us across all those billions of years and millions of miles. It speaks of the possibility of life. If this discovery is confirmed, it will surely be one of the most stunning insights into our universe that science has ever uncovered. Its implications are as far-reaching and awe-inspiring as can be imagined. Even as it promises answers to some of our oldest questions, it poses still others even more fundamental. We will continue to listen closely to what it has to say as we continue the search for answers and for knowledge that is as old as humanity itself but essential to our people’s future (Clinton 1996).”

2000-07-05 The European Parliament created a Temporary Committee on the ECHELON Interception System and laid down its mandate as outlined in Chapter 1, 1.3. With a view to fulfilling that mandate, at its constituent meeting of 9 July 2000 the Temporary Committee appointed Gerhard Schmid rapporteur. They acknowledged that the “existence of a global system for intercepting communications, operating by means of cooperation proportionate to their capabilities among the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand under the UKUSA Agreement, [was] no longer in doubt; whereas it seems likely, in view of the evidence and the consistent pattern of statements from a very wide range of individuals and organisations, including American sources, that its name is in fact ECHELON, [and that] the purpose of the system is to intercept, at the very least, private and commercial communications, and not military communications, although the analysis carried out in the report has revealed that the technical capabilities of the system are probably not nearly as extensive as some sections of the media had assumed. [They also were both surprised and worried] that many senior Community figures, including European Commissioners, who gave evidence to the Temporary Committee claimed to be unaware of this phenomenon (EU).”


1. “The SNC meteorites, so named for the shergottite, nakhlite, and chassigny classes which comprise this group of petrologically similar specimens, consist of 12 meteorites that share a set of similar properties that are highly anomalous compared to other meteoritic samples. The investigation of these characteristic properties has led to speculation that the SNC meteorites may have originated from a planet-sized “parent body” in the inner solar system. Since it was first suggested in the mid-1970′s that this parent body may have been the planet Mars, intensive study has not only upheld this radical theory, but also provided a convincing foundation of evidence to support it. Careful study of the nakhlite group of meteorites conducted in the early- and mid-1970s by such workers as Papanastassiou and Wasserburg (1974) demonstrated that the nakhlite meteorites exhibited an anomalously young isochron crystallization age of 1.37 billion years, as determined by the rubidium-strontium [Rb-Sr] dating method. (At least one SNC meteorite, ALH84001, is much older, with an age of 4.5 billion years.) Weisstein 1996-2007.”

Viking Landers Gas bubbles trapped in one meteorite, EETA79001, have a composition which matches the current martian atmosphere as measured by the Viking Landers, compelling evidence that this meteorite and by association the others, including ALH84001, came from Mars.  

ALH84001 discovered in 1984 in the Allan Hills region of Antarctica, is the oldest Martian meteorite. “The original igneous rock solidified within Mars about 4.5 billion years ago, about 100 million years after the formation of the planet. (Based on isotope ages of the igneous component of the meteorite) (MaKay et al 1996). The ALH84001 is distinct from the SNC classification. Various articles in Science magazine reported signs of organic wormy-looking relics, Magnetotactic bacteria were present in Martian meteorite  ALH84001. The Martian meteorite stayed for 2 years stay in the Caltech …

Selected Bibliography and Webliography

Clinton, Bill. 1996-08-07. “President Clinton Statement Regarding Mars Meteorite Discovery“. NASA. Retrieved 2006-08-07.

Crenson, Matt. 2006-08-06. “After 10 years, few believe life on Mars.” AP.

Handwerk, Brian. 2005-12-12. “Hydrothermal “Megaplume” Found in Indian Ocean.” National Geographic News.

McKay, David S. Gibson Jr, Everett. K.  Thomas-Keprta. 1996-08-16. “Search for past life on Mars: possible relic biogenic activity in Martian meteorite ALH84001“. Science.

Mellor, Chris. 2004-10-15. “Want to know the hardware behind Echelon? Uncle Sam using Texas’ SAM.” Techworld.

Weisstein, Eric W. 1996-2007. “SNC Meteors.” Wolfram Science World.

Williams, David R. 2005. “Evidence of Ancient Martian Life in Meteorite ALH84001?” National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC).

2 Responses to “Mapping Dan Brown’s Deception Point (2001)”

  1. thanks for sharing Mapping Dan Brown’s Deception Point (2001)

  2. Jackie Paulson 1966 Says:

    I am reading his book now thanks for this information.

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