Small exploratory robots crawling across the surface of Mars, the infamous “face,” many other Martian anomalies – all have served to fire the human imagination regarding the planet closest to Earth. Yet somehow we just don’t seem to be able to either get people on Mars or obtain clear detailed photos of its landscape despite high-resolution spy satellites that can read the license plate of your car on Earth.
The exploration of the Red Planet has been marked by a series of mysterious breakdowns and disappearances. One such case concerned the Mars Observer, which vanished August 20, 1993, just as it was about to go into orbit around Mars. Both scientists and laymen had high hopes that the Mars Observer would transmit photographs back to Earth which might solve some of the Martian mysteries – such as the human “face on Mars” and the three symmetrical pyramids seen in NASA photographs.
The 5,672-pound Mars Observer spent 11 months traveling to our neighboring planet and was scheduled to go into orbit around Mars on August 24. The $980 million satellite was to begin a two-to-six-year mission to map the planet in greater detail than ever before. It was to be the vanguard of several spacecraft not only from the United States, but also from Russia and Japan. But contact was broken and the craft hasn’t been heard from since. What happened?
NASA officials initially theorized that the probe’s timing clock malfunctioned, making the onboard computer unable to process commands being radioed from the Jet Propulsion Lab. But as days passed and communication was never resumed with the craft, hopes dimmed of ever knowing precisely what happened to the Mars Observer.
But the remote viewers of the U.S. Army believed they knew what happened. Remote viewing, also known as clairvoyance, is a psychic phenomenon which enables the viewer to perceive persons, places, and things from a great distance. Initially developed through rigorous scientific study by the CIA, a cadre of remote viewers, code named GRILL FLAME was established within the Army in the mid-1970s. It was a top-secret program until revealed in 1995.
Less than a week after losing the Mars probe, remote viewers reported that the fate of the Mars Observer was identical to that of the Soviet Phobos II.
In March 1989, the unmanned Soviet probe Phobos II was lost just as it, too, was about to move into orbit around Mars. Communication was lost as the Phobos II passed into the vicinity of Phobos, one of the two Martian moons. The Soviets issued a communiqué suggesting that the craft spun out of control due to an erroneous ground command.
There the matter rested until mid-1991, when remote viewers formerly with the GRILL FLAME unit were commissioned by officials within the Russian space program to study the cause of Phobos II’s disappearance. Six remote viewers were asked to view what really happened in the space near Mars in March 1989.
Their final report, called “Enigma Penetration: Soviet Phobos II Space Craft Imaged Anomaly,” was issued on September 29, 1991. The report stated, “Sometime after entering Martian orbit, the Phobos II space craft appears to have entered an ‘ADIZ’ [Air Defense Interrogation Zone, an electronic zone which protects national boundaries] of sorts, triggering an ensemble of actions in response to its presence: A disc-shaped object, Object 1, rose from the planet’s surface to meet the probe, briefly perused it, then returned to the surface. Another object, already in space, was also attracted. Object 2 moved closer in an act having some similarity to an ‘IFF’ [Interrogation, Friend or Foe aircraft transponder] query, directed a very powerful, wide, penetrating particle beam into the interior of the spacecraft. Shortly after, Object 2 departed. The directed energy was neither reflected nor absorbed by the probe’s skin.
“However, the beam inflicted serious damage upon the space craft’s electronic components, altering or rearranging their material structure at the molecular level to such a degree that circuits became paralyzed, in turn rendering many systems dysfunctional. Phobos II attempted to ‘fix itself’ but became even more paralyzed in the process, creating short circuits and locking up servo mechanisms.
“Continued ground commands causes chaos, exacerbating the already hopeless situation. Subsequently, Phobos II underwent a radical course change, after (emphasis in the original) which – in a totally random event – a small meteoroid administered the coup de grace, effecting catastrophic damage to the spacecraft. “At no time did the viewers detect hostile intent in connection with the (re)actions of Objects 1 and 2. Moreover, unintentional damage notwithstanding, Phobos II – an ‘alien’ object – seems to have merited merely passing interest and cursory inspection. There are certain perceptions attendant with viewing Objects 1 and 2 that persuade one to label them as ‘escort vehicle’ and ‘navigational buoy’ respectively.
“A parallel idea is connected with yet another object that viewers detected on the Martian surface during this project. This takes the form of a tall, pyramid-shaped edifice which serves as a type of ‘corner reflector’ or ‘glide path homing transponder,’ a passive navigational aid. It designates a site around which much or all of this activity seems to focus. In the vicinity of this marker, beneath the Martian surface, something is existing – something living – that is periodically visited by ‘others’ on ‘caretaking’ missions. Perceptions that are strongly connected with this resident life form include: ancient, marooned and desperation combined with associated ideas of tremendous tragedy, grief and pathos.”
Once again the military psychic spies produced a report which read like a science fiction story. And again, the question of feedback arose. Was there anything to prove the validity of what the viewers saw? In this instance there was feedback – astounding feedback from the Soviets themselves. It first came from Alexander Dunayev, chairman of the Soviet space organization responsible for the Phobos II project. Dunayev announced that the doomed probe had photographed the image of a small odd-shaped object between itself and Mars. He suggested the object might have been “debris in the orbit of [Mars’ moon] Phobos” or even jettisoned parts from the spacecraft. His tone was anything but certain.
More detailed – and exciting – news came in December 1991, when Soviet cosmonauts visited the United States. Retired Soviet Air Force Colonel and Cosmonaut trainee, Marina Popovich displayed to news people in San Francisco one of the last photographs received from the Phobos II. She said Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, a high official in the Soviet space program, gave her the photo.
The photo showed the silhouette of an odd-shaped object approaching the spacecraft. Popovich said the picture was taken on March 25, 1989, in deep space near the Martian moon Phobos shortly before contact with the craft was lost. She said the object very well may have been an alien spacecraft but would not say so. “The reasons for its disappearance are unknown,” commented Popovich, “The photo is only information for thinking . . . information for all kinds of decisions.”
Several theories about the object in the photo were advanced – some thought it might be a small, undiscovered Martian moonlet or simply a product of a Phobos II camera malfunction. Professor Emeritus James Harder of the University of California at Berkeley and former director of research for the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization stated, “No one can answer precisely what it is.”
The photographed object bore an uncanny resemblance to the object drawn in the remote viewer’s Phobos II sketches. The remote viewers saw the photo and its similarity to their vision as confirmation – feedback – of what they viewed months earlier. And if their account of the demise of Phobos II is correct, then serious attention must be given their statement that the same fate befell the Mars Observer.
“It appears that whoever is up there does not want us to know about them,” mused one of the military-trained remote viewers involved in the Martian study.