NASA’s Gateway to Astronaut Photography website continues to provide tantalizing evidence of UFOs in space. The latest in a series of astronaut photographs revealing UFOs taken during the Space Shuttle Program was ‘rediscovered’ two days ago, and reveal a very large triangular object on a descent trajectory towards the Earth. The photos were taken in 1986 during the Space Shuttle Columbia mission STS-61C. Is it space debris as NASA claims; an extraterrestrial mothership as some UFO researchers believe; or a highly classified government spacecraft called a flying triangle or TR-3B? The ‘rediscovery’ of the two photographs may be further hard evidence that something is flying in space near NASA space missions that is an unknown spacecraft of some kind.  

The two photographs were uploaded onto Youtube two days ago with commentary, and to date have almost 10,000 views. The Youtube user, DAHBOO7 incorrectly stated that the photos were taken from the International Space Station. The photo descriptions reveal, however, that they were taken from the Space Shuttle Columbia. In a news update released today on UFO Daily Sightings, Scott Waring wrote: “Someone this week discovered these cool NASA photos at an official NASA site that has two extraordinary photos of a black triangle UFO in orbit around Earth.” The two photos, however, were known and circulated much earlier. A retired USAF and Department of Defense employee, Edgar Fouche, for example, cited one of the photos as early September 2011. He wrote regarding the first photo in the sequence: “An interesting Flying Triangle photo by NASA. They called it space junk. Ha… Such BS! Ed.”

Fouche was a Director of Engineering and Senior Program Manager in the USAF and Department of Defense, and after retirement “worked for companies like SAIC, PCA, CEA, and SSAI.” He is the first major whistleblower to come forward to reveal details about a classified aerospace program creating antigravity craft capable of spaceflight – flying triangles. Fouche claims that the TR-3B generates an intense magnetic field that reduces its weight by 89 percent. He says that the TR-3B uses the Biefeld-Brown effect (created by large electrostatic charges) to reduce its weight so that more conventional propulsion systems such as scramjets can give it amazing speeds. This would be well above Mach 18 that he claims is the speed of the SR-74. Fouche claims the TR-3B is 600 feet across which would make it similar in size to an aircraft carrier. This is what Fouche believed was photographed by the NASA astronauts on STS-61C.

Another possibility is revealed by Clark McClelland who finished a 34 year career working as a NASA contractor by working as a NASA SpaceCraft Operator. In a statement released on his website on July 29, 2008, McClelland revealed that he witnessed an extraterrestrial vehicle and one of its occupants rendezvous with a Space Shuttle mission he was monitoring from the Kennedy Space Center. He wrote:

I, Clark C. McClelland, former ScO [Spacecraft Operator], Space Shuttle Fleet, personally observed an 8 to 9 foot tall ET on his 27 inch video monitors while on duty in the Kennedy Space Center, Launch Control Center (LCC). The ET was standing upright in the Space Shuttle Payload Bay having a discussion with TWO tethered US NASA Astronauts! I also observed on my monitors, the spacecraft of the ET as it was in a stabilized, safe orbit to the rear of the Space Shuttle main engine pods. I observed this incident for about one minute and seven seconds. Plenty of time to memorize all that I was observing. IT WAS AN ET and Alien Star Ship!

One issue that needs clarification is whether the triangular object is moving towards the Space Shuttle or falling/moving away from it. According to Waring:

When you compare the first and second photos, you see that the triangle UFO has turned in its position facing a new direction. Also in the second photo the UFO is 2X closer than in the first. Another thing is that the UFO moves closer to the edge of the Earth compared to the first photo where its slightly farther away. From the clouds which change position we can determine that the photos were taken less than minute of one another. Time stamp on #1 photo says 13:59:25 (Hours, Min, Sec) and photo #2 was taken at 13:59:42 so we now know there was 17 seconds in between the photos. This info tells us that it moves very fast towards the Shuttle Columbia which probably panicked the astronauts.

Unfortunately, Waring is mistaken about the time sequence of the photos. The photo with the larger UFO (“2X closer”) is the first in the sequence, which suggests that it is moving away, not towards, the Space Shuttle.

So could the NASA photographs have been an alien star ship as witnessed by McClelland? Alternatively, could it be space debris as claimed by NASA? Or perhaps Fouche is correct that the triangular UFO is a highly advanced classified flying triangle, TR-3B, belonging to a secret military space fleet photographed by NASA astronauts.

© Copyright 2013. Michael E. Salla, Ph.D. Exopolitics.org 

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Further Reading

A team of four scientists has written an article in the latest edition of the Journal of Cosmology claiming that a meteorite discovered in Sri Lanka contains evidence of extraterrestrial life. Inside the meteorite, according to Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, the lead scientist and Director of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology, are tiny fossil microbes that are extraterrestrial in origin. The findings of Wickramasinghe and his team in their co-authored article, “Fossil Diatoms in a New Carbonaceous Meteorite’," immediately aroused controversy. In an article in the Huffington Post published on January 19, Lee Spiegal addressed the controversy and Wickramasinghe’s response to early criticism.   Critics claim that the meteorite sample examined by Wickramasinghe’s team was very likely contaminated by Earth based algae. This raises suspicion that once again scientists claiming they have found evidence for extraterrestrial life will be subjected to a firestorm of criticism including direct personal attacks from their peers.

Chandra Wickramasinghe is no stranger to controversy. The Sri Lanka born mathematician was the founder of the theory of Panspermia along with British physicist Fred Hoyle. Panspermia is based on the idea that life is spread throughout the universe in the form of microbes carried on the back of meteorites that travel through the interstellar vacuum. Wickramasinghe believes that the Sri Lanka meteorite is vindication for his controversial theory, and has solid scientific evidence supporting his conclusions.

According to the abstract in Wickramasinghe’s and his co-author’s article:

We report the discovery for the first time of diatom frustules in a carbonaceous meteorite that fell in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka on 29 December 2012. Contamination is excluded by the circumstance that the elemental abundances within the structures match closely with those of the surrounding matrix. There is also evidence of structures morphologically similar to red rain cells that may have contributed to the episode of red rain that followed within days of the meteorite fall. The new data on “fossil” diatoms provide strong evidence to support the theory of cometary panspermia.

Basically, diatoms are a form of algae that are mainly unicellar and form large colonies. They are a major producer in the food chain. Finding fossil diatoms in a meteorite is hard evidence that extraterrestrial life not only exists, but is commonly found throughout the galaxy. Not so according to Phil Plait, who launched a preemptive strike before the major media and public had a chance to digest Chandrasinghe’s findings.

Plait’s column in Slate magazine begins with a very unscientific ad hominem attack since he writes in the article that “sometimes an ad hominem is warranted!” According to Plait:

Wickramasinghe is a proponent of the idea of panspermia: the notion that life originated in space and was brought to Earth via meteorites. It’s an interesting idea and not without some merits. However, Wickramasinghe is fervent proponent of it. Like, really fervent. So much so that he attributes everything to life in space. He’s said that the flu comes from space. He’s said SARS comes from space. He’s claimed living cells found in the stratosphere come from space. (There is no evidence at all they do, and it’s far more likely they are terrestrial.) He’s said a weird red rain in India was from space (when it’s been shown conclusively that it isn’t). The list goes on and on. Wickramasinghe jumps on everything, with little or no evidence, and says it’s from outer space, so I think there's a case to be made for a bias on his part.

Plait finally launches into the main substantive criticism he has to offer which comes from an evolutionary biologist who responded to Plait’s request to analyze Wickramasinghe’s article. Professor Patrick Kociolek from the University of Colorado wrote back to Plait:

… the diversity present in the images represent a wide range of evolutionary history, such that the “source” of the diatoms from outer space, must have gone through the same evolutionary events as here on earth. There are no extinct taxa found, only ones we would find living today…for me it is a clear case of contamination with freshwater.

Essentially, Kociolek and Plait are claiming that Wickramasinghe’s data was compromised by fresh water on Earth.

The Huffington Post contacted Wickramasinghe and invited him to respond to Plait’s criticism. Wickramasinghe wrote:

In 1962, [Hoyle and I] pioneered the theory of carbon grains in space to replace the old ice grain theory. This was vehemently resisted by the astronomical community at the outset, but with the dawn of infrared spectroscopy, the ice grain theory gave way to the carbon dust theory… Over a few years, after a great deal of model-fitting, we came to the conclusion that material similar to biomaterial fitted all the available data in astronomy … We considered the possibility that biology (microbiology) had a universal character, and no observations in astronomy or new information from biology has provided contrary evidence.

Regarding Plait’s and Kociolek’s main argument that the meteorite sample was contaminated by earth water algae or diatoms, Wickramasinghe continued: "But — there are also at least half a dozen species that diatom experts have not been able to identify."  This is where Plait’s and Kociolek’s criticism falls short since they can’t explain the origin of all the diatoms found in the meteorite.

This is not the first time that scientists finding evidence of extraterrestrial life in meteorites have been exposed to the criticism that their sample was contaminated by earth based microbial life. In August 1996, David McKay and a team of NASA scientists published their analysis of a Martian meteorite discovered in Antarctica. The meteorite was found to have carbon compounds that looked very much like fossil remains of ancient Martian microbes. Here is how Mackay explained their findings:

The carbonate globules are similar in texture and size to some terrestrial bacterially induced carbonate precipitates. Although inorganic formation is possible, formation of the globules by biogenic processes could explain many of the observed features, including the PAHs [polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons]. The PAHs, the carbonate globules, and their associated secondary mineral phases and textures could thus be fossil remains of a past martian biota.

The announcement was big news at the time, and led to President Clinton making a statement contemplating the historical significance of the discovery. The 1996 discovery then got bogged down in scientific debate over whether or not the meteorite was polluted by Earth microbes. Critics claimed NASA scientists had not sufficiently accounted for this possibility. Not so according to a new 2009 study by NASA scientists, including McKay, from the Johnson Space Center that upheld the earlier findings and concluded: “None of the original features supporting our hypothesis for ALH84001 has either been discredited or has been positively ascribed to non-biologic explanations."

Wickramasinghe and his team have just begun the effort of defending their results from criticisms that their meteorite sample was contaminated, and their data therefore inconclusive. Given that controversy still swirls around the 1996 Mars meteorite case, we can expect the same for Wickramasinghe and his team’s claim of finding evidence of extraterrestrial fossils on a meteorite. It may be some time before scientists are willing to concede that Wickramasinghe may have just verified his theory of panspermia.

 

© Copyright 2013. Michael E. Salla, Ph.D. Exopolitics.org 

This article is copyright © and should not be added in its entirety on other websites or email lists. Permission is granted to include an extract (e.g., introductory paragraph) of this article on website or email lists with a link to the original.

Further Reading

UFO captured by NASA and deleted from Johnson Space Center websiteIn a news alert issued today, NASA has been caught deleting photos from its website of what is unmistakable evidence of a UFO. The UFO photos first appeared on the NASA Johnson Space Center website in May 2011 and clearly showed a spacecraft of some advanced design. Without any fanfare, the photos were uploaded and stayed on the NASA website for over a year and half until being recently removed. According to Scott Waring from UFO Sightings Daily, the photos were initially leaked by someone in NASA wanting to get the word out about UFOs. The removed photos with original links to the NASA/Johnson Space Center website can now be found on UFO Sightings Daily. The removal of the digital photos supports claims by whistleblowers that NASA regularly removes evidence of UFOs from its website that are extraterrestrial in origin.

Here is what Waring had to say about the photos when they were first discovered on NASA Johnson Space Center website:

Take a look at these amazing photos that were leaked out of NASA Johnson Space Center. The quality of the photos is almost HD and the detail we see of the UFO recorded by a NASA satellite orbiting are incredible. The most important question here is not what they are…space stations or ships, but is the species that built them still on board those ships?

After the photos were removed, Waring issued a news alert claiming:

I have just been made aware by one of our readers that the UFO Photo that were almost in HD in quality have been deleted. I have tried the links in 4 different web browser but to no luck. The links are gone which means only the photos and videos we posted are the only evidence they ever existed. Please download and copy the video and photos you a personal file of yours and share with others.

As the photos and video make clear, there is unmistakable evidence of UFOs of an artificial design that have been photographed by NASA’s earth orbiting spacecraft. The UFO does not correspond to any known terrestrial spacecraft and appears to be alien in design. Nothing is known of the occupants, but Clark McClelland a former NASA employee who completed training as a Spacecraft Operator may have the answer.

During a 34 year career working as a NASA contractor/employee, McClelland was responsible for ensuring the safety of numerous NASA missions including Mercury spaceflights, Apollo missions, the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle. In a statement released on his website on July 29, 2008, McClelland revealed that he witnessed an eight to nine foot tall extraterrestrial in association with a Space Shuttle mission he was monitoring from the Kennedy Space Center. He wrote:

I, Clark C. McClelland, former ScO [Spacecraft Operator], Space Shuttle Fleet, personally observed an 8 to 9 foot tall ET on his 27 inch video monitors while on duty in the Kennedy Space Center, Launch Control Center (LCC). The ET was standing upright in the Space Shuttle Payload Bay having a discussion with TWO tethered US NASA Astronauts! I also observed on my monitors, the spacecraft of the ET as it was in a stabilized, safe orbit to the rear of the Space Shuttle main engine pods. I observed this incident for about one minute and seven seconds. Plenty of time to memorize all that I was observing. IT WAS AN ET and Alien Star Ship!

Furthermore, McClelland wrote that he was not the only NASA official who witnessed the incident: "A friend of mine later contacted me and said that this person had also observed an 8 to 9 foot tall ET INSIDE the SPACE SHUTTLE CREW COMPARTMENT! Yes, inside OUR Shuttle! BOTH missions were DoD (Pentagon) TOP SECRET (TS) encounters!'

Could the UFO photos that were deleted from the NASA Johnson Center website been the same extraterrestrial vehicle seen by McClelland? If so, then we may have our answer as to who are its occupants, and why someone at NASA decided to finally pull the photos from their website. The fact that the photos were left on NASA`s website for over a year and a half does suggest that there are those working within NASA that want the public to learn the truth about what NASA is seeing and doing in outer space. On the other hand, the fact that the photos were pulled does confirm that NASA is actively suppressing information about UFOs caught on film from many of its space missions.

UPDATE: Thanks to alert readers, both the high and low resolution photos of the UFOs depicted in the original series that were posted in the Scott Waring May 2011 article are still available online. It now becomes clear that NASA JSC moved their digital images to different locations. Here are the links to the high res versions (simply replace "highres" with "lowres" in the URL to get the low resol versons):

© Copyright 2013. Michael E. Salla, Ph.D. Exopolitics.org 

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Further Reading

Star Wars Land CruiserAn anomalous object has just been found on Mars that appears to be a crashed UFO lying just under the Martian dust. The object was discovered by Scott Waring using Google Mars Map which gives users the ability to examine the Martian surface using satellite imagery. In an announcement released today, Waring estimates it to be about 30 meters wide and 60 meters long. According to Waring, it has the shape of a “Star Wars land cruiser.”

Many anomalies that appear artificial have been found on Mars, and the moon for that matter, using NASA satellite imagery by Waring and other researchers. NASA scientists routinely attribute such anomalies to purely geological processes and don’t bother to investigate further their possible artificial nature citing mission priorities and costs. In the rare case of a public outcry as happened in the 1976 Viking Face on Mars controversy, NASA will schedule future missions to provide further satellite images that typically only raise further questions.

This is how Waring explains his Martian discovery:

 I was looking over Google Mars and discovered what looks like the equivalent of the Star Wars land cruiser. You can make out the shape and structure very well and even the two vertical wings in back. Using Google Ruler I found that the craft is 61 meters from nose to end, 33.3 meters from tail to tail, 29.23 meters wide and 4.8 meters thick.

 
Star Wars Land Cruiser-toyHere is what a Star Wars land cruiser looks like, it does have a striking resemblance to what Warring discovered.

Waring created a Youtube video using Google Mars Map where he zooms in on the object that certainly appears to be artificial in shape. Buried just under the Martian surface, it invites further investigation and analysis.

Don’t expect NASA scientists to rush to examine Waring’s claim by sending a rover mission to investigate. Maybe the secret Space Fleet that Gary McKinnon discovered by hacking into Pentagon computers and Ronald Reagan revealed in his memoirs, could investigate. If so, don’t expect the results to be announced anytime soon. Perhaps we will not have to wait too long, if Elon Musk succeeds in putting 80,000 colonists on Mars. Waring’s UFO crash may be just an unusual geological formation; or perhaps in a time long ago, there were “Star Wars land cruisers” racing over the Martian surface.

© Copyright 2012. Michael E. Salla. Exopolitics.org  This article is copyright © and should not be added in its entirety on other websites or email lists. Permission is granted to include an extract (e.g., introductory paragraph) of this article on website or email lists with a link to the original.

Further Reading

 

Yesterday, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) took the extraordinary step of dampening speculation over comments made by one of the leaders of the Mars Curiosity Mission. Just before Thanksgiving, on November 20, John Grotzinger, principal investigator of the Surface At Mars instrument on the Curiosity Rover, was quoted on NPR radio that a discovery had been made that would be “one for the history books.”  Many scientific observers took that to mean that he was about to announce that Curiosity had discovered organic compounds on Mars – the building blocks of life. In an interview with US News, JPL spokesperson Veronica McGregor says that Grotinsky had been “misinterpreted”. She said that there were definitely nothing significant about organic compounds in the results to be announced at a scientific conference next week being hosted by the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. Rather than an earthshaking announcement, it appears that Grotzinger will be presenting much more mundane data and results about the Curiosity Mission – its working fine after a long flight from Earth! Did Grozinger simply overreach himself in commenting about the data and results from a soil analysis by the Curiosity Rover, or is he being muzzled by more senior NASA figures over what was exactly found on Mars?

Here is what McGregor said about Grotzinger interview on NPR radio that has created much media interest and internet speculation over the last week:

He was extremely excited and continues to be extremely excited that we had the first data coming back from our first sample and the machine is operating beautifully… This was the science team's equivalent of the landing moment. It was a key moment after years of work.

McGregor is saying that Grotzinger was merely excited that the Mars SAM instrument was working fine after the long trip to Mars, and that it was sending back good data. That was the history making element that Grotzinger was referring to, according to McGregor:

I think there was a misinterpretation of what he said. This is a scientist who was so excited his instrument was sending back data … John was extremely excited about having the first data back from SAM…. It’s very interesting data and the scientists are chewing on this—he does believe this mission will be one for the history books. But knowing these rumors [of organic compounds on Mars] were floating out there and knowing we didn’t yet have the results, we wanted to let people know that they’re definitely not in these initial samples…

Yet in the NPR interview Grotzinger focused on the data itself as being history in the making, not the transmission of the data. This is what he actually said to the NPR interviewer:

We're getting data from SAM as we sit here and speak, and the data looks really interesting. The science team is busily chewing away on it as it comes down…. This data is gonna be one for the history books. It's looking really good.

What’s clear from Grotzinger’s own comments is that the data itself is “one for the history books,” not the Curiosity mission or the scientific process by which the data is being transmitted.


In claiming that Grotzinger’s comments were being misinterpreted and that he meant that it was the “mission”, not the “data” that was one for the history books, McGregor is being disingenuous. Did Grotzinger simply misspeak, setting off much speculation about the data results from one of the Mars Curiosity soil analysis experiments? Or is Grotzinger and his data being muzzled by NASA? One thing now appears certain. Nothing extraordinary will be announced at next week’s American Geophyiscal Union conference in San Francisco where Grotzinger will announce the results of a soil analysis by the SAM Rover instrument. Maybe there was nothing extraordinary to be announced all along; or, perhaps, NASA is muzzling something extraordinary that Curiosity has discovered on Mars.

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© Copyright 2012. Michael E. Salla. Exopolitics.org

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Further Reading

In 1606, King James I of England granted the first Royal Charter to establish colonies in the New World. In a modern day reprise, Elon Musk, the founder of Paypal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX, plans to build a colony of up to 80,000 people on Mars. Taking a trip to Mars, if Musk has his way, would cost as little as $500,000. Musk revealed his long term plans in a November 16 presentation at the Royal Aeronautical Society. In an interview, Musk revealed that establishing a Martian colony was his ultimate objective, and “it always has been.” Given his recent space accomplishments, successfully sending an unmanned space vehicle to the International Space Station and back – Musk’s Mars vision is no idle pipedream. While it may take several decades to achieve his vision using conventional rocket propulsion technologies, this could be a new first for Musk. Or would it?

According to whistleblowers, elements of the US military possess a secret space fleet that uses antigravity technologies, and is already capable of interplanetary flight to Mars and beyond. A secret attempt to declassify antigravity technology by the Boeing Corporation during the Clinton administration failed. Apparently, the world’s leading aeronautical company was prevented from introducing the next generation of propulsion technologies for the aviation industry for national security reasons. There is also reason to believe that there was an unsuccessful attempt by the Obama administration, under his former national security advisor General Jim Jones, to have antigravity technologies declassified. One day in the not too distant future, currently classified antigravity technologies that will revolutionize the aviation and space industry will be released. Musk’s vision of a Mars colony would then come into fruition much more quickly than he can currently envision.

Elon Musk’s immediate plan is for SpaceX to send manned flights to the International Space Station in the next few years. With two successful missions to the ISS and back using his Dragon Spacecraft, there is little doubt that Musk will achieve his goal unless something unexpected happens. Musk will eventually turn his attention to Mars, and contemplate how to achieve his vision using existing propulsion technologies based on iquid fuel propellants. In his talk at the Royal Aeronautical Society, Musk said: “At Mars, you can start a self-sustaining civilization and grow it into something really big.” The main challenge is that present propulsion technologies make manned missions to Mars prohibitively expensive. NASA has dropped plans for a manned mission to Mar due to the 100 billion budget. With a yearly budget of only $19 billion, NASA would have to be part of an international consortium, and even then the overall cost might be too much. So can private space entrepreneurs such as Musk, succeed where governments cannot? Perhaps, but Musk would do so far more quickly if classified aerospace technologies based on antigravity principles were released.

Classified antigravity technologies have been kept from the public realm for over six decades while secretly developed by military-corporate entities. It was revealed in 1992, for example, that the B-2 Bomber used electrostatic charges on its leading wings and exhaust.  According to aerospace experts, this was confirmation that the B-2 used electrogravitic principles based on the Biefeld-Brown Effect.  The Biefeld-Brown Effect is based on the research of Thomas Townsend Brown who in 1928 gained a patent for his practical application of how high voltage electrostatic charges can reduce the weight of objects. The B-2 bomber employs sufficiently high voltages to significantly reduce its weight. This enables the B-2 and other classified antigravity vehicles to display flight characteristics that appear to defy conventional laws of physics.

During the early period of the Obama administration there may have been an attempt to have such technology declassified. The key Obama appointee for the attempt to introduce antigravity technology into the public sector was very likely General James Jones who was President Obama’s first national security advisor. After retiring from the Marines on February 1, 2007, General Jones served on the Board of Directors of the Boeing Corporation from June 21, 2007 to December 15, 2008. Boeing had been active at least since the early 1990’s in studies to apply antigravity technology for commercial use.

In 2002, an internal Boeing project called “Gravity Research for Advanced Space Propulsion” (GRASP) had been disclosed to the aerospace industry. A GRASP briefing document obtained by Jane’s Defense Weekly stated Boeing’s position: “If gravity modification is real, it will alter the entire aerospace business.” According to a 2008 book by Dr Paul LaViolette, Secrets of Antigravity Technology, Boeing completed a separate classified study for the U.S. military of electrogravitic propulsion recently before October 2007. Boeing was rebuffed in its efforts to have such technology declassified and released into the public sector. As a Board Director and member of Boeing’s Finance Committee at the time of the 2007 classified study, General Jones was privy to and supported Boeing’s efforts in antigravity research and development.

At the same time that Boeing was actively seeking to develop antigravity technologies for a new generation of aircraft, Jones became President of the Institute for 21st Century Energy. The Institute was created by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with the following mission:

To secure America’s long-term energy security, America must reexamine outdated and entrenched positions, become better informed about the sources of our fuel and power, and make judgments based on facts, sound science, and good American common sense.

As Obama’s first National Security Advisor, General Jones was well placed to ensure that “new energy ideas” would be integrated into a comprehensive national security policy by the Obama administration. Unfortunately, Jones was stymied in his efforts to move forward with his new energy agenda, and was replaced in October 2010 less than two years after taking the job. As happened earlier during the Clinton administration with the Boeing Corporation, efforts to declassify antigravity technology for the civilian aviation sector had been stymied by powerful opponents.

There is little reason to doubt that space entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk could succeed in ambitious plans to achieve manned space flight to Mars, and eventually establish a human colony of up to 80,000 or more. Musk could become a modern day equivalent of William Penn and others granted Royal Charters by the English Crown that established colonies in the New World during the 17th century. The cost and time for achieving Musk’s Mars vision will take several decades using conventional rocket propulsion technologies. If antigravity technologies were declassified and released for commercial application, then Musk’s Martian colony could be brought into fruition much sooner – even before the end of this decade. A $500,000 ticket to Mars may not be that far off into the future after all!

© Copyright 2012. Michael E. Salla. Exopolitics.org

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NASA is about to make a big announcement from its Curiosity Rover Mars mission according to John Grotzinger, its principal investigator. Will it be a giant leap forward in the search for life on Mars? Speculation began soon after Grotzinger gave an interview on NPR public radio on November 20 where he said: "This data is gonna be one for the history books. It's looking really good."    In the NPR interview, Grotzinger said it would be several weeks before his team would announce their finding. A clue as to what was discovered is that the data comes from Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars instrument – basically an onboard chemistry lab that is capable of identifying organic compounds – the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it. While organic compounds do not necessarily mean that life exists/existed on Mars, they are a vital ingredient in the formation of life. NASA’s big upcoming announcement is most likely to be that it has discovered organic compounds on Mars – possibly, the fossilized remains of ancient Martian microbes.

NASA has been here before. In August 1996, David McKay and a team of NASA scientists published their analysis of a Martian meteorite discovered in Antarctica. The meteorite was found to have carbon compounds that looked very much like fossil remains of ancient Martian microbes. Here is how Mackay explained their findings:

The carbonate globules are similar in texture and size to some terrestrial bacterially induced carbonate precipitates. Although inorganic formation is possible, formation of the globules by biogenic processes could explain many of the observed features, including the PAHs [polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons]. The PAHs, the carbonate globules, and their associated secondary mineral phases and textures could thus be fossil remains of a past martian biota.

The announcement was big news at the time, and led to President Clinton making a statement:

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.

The 1996 discovery then got bogged down in scientific debate over whether or not the meteorite was polluted by Earth microbes. Critics claimed NASA scientists had not sufficiently accounted for this possibility. Not so according to a new 2009 study by NASA scientists, including McKay, from the Johnson Space Center that upheld the earlier findings and concluded: “None of the original features supporting our hypothesis for ALH84001 has either been discredited or has been positively ascribed to non-biologic explanations."

The continuing debate over the 1996 Mars meteorite has led to Grotzinger and his team taking a cautious approach to announcing the results of their analysis of the data sent back by Curiosity’s SAM instrument. If, as Grotnzinger suggests, the results are upheld, we will soon hear that organic compounds have been found on Mars. More importantly, they might be the fossil remnants of ancient microbiological life. You can then expect President Obama following in the footsteps of President Clinton, and make his own public announcement concerning the implications of ancient life on Mars.

© Copyright 2012. Michael E. Salla. Exopolitics.org

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Early this morning US Eastern Time, the Mars Science Laboratory (aka Curiosity rover) successfully landed on Mars. “Curiosity's main assignment,” according to NASA, “is to investigate whether its study area ever has offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.” To achieve its two year exploratory mission, the nuclear powered Curiosity carries 15 times as much scientific equipment as on previous Mars rovers.  Curiosity will analyze samples of soil, rocks and atmosphere on the spot and transmit results back to NASA scientists. NASA claims that “Curiosity is a bold step forward in learning about our neighboring planet.” Importantly, according to Doug McCuistion, director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., "This mission transitions the program's science emphasis from the planet's water history to its potential for past or present life."

If you are interested in learning about the possibility of current life on Mars, Curiosity is not designed to answer that question. Why not you may ask? According to NASA, the inconclusive results of past NASA experiments of current microbial life on Mars meant that there was no point repeating such experiments and risk new scientific controversy. NASA has a right to be concerned since controversy over the Viking Lander experiments in 1976 has not gone away. According to a scientific study published in April 2012, the Viking experiments successfully detected life after all. All this makes NASA’s current emphasis on seeking whether conditions ever existed on Mars for life look rather trivial, and a step in the wrong direction.

Here is what self-congratulatory Press releases from NASA over Curiosity’s successful landing won’t tell you. In April 2012, a team of scientists and mathematicians analyzing data from the 1976 Viking Mission concluded that life on Mars was detected in one of the four experiments conducted by the two robotic landers. Their report, “Complexity Analysis of the Viking Labeled Release Experiments,” released in the International Journal of Aeronautical and Space Sciences resurrected the controversy over results of the Viking Mission’s “Labeled Released experiment” designed by Dr Gilbert Levin. The Viking mission was the only Mars mission so far that was designed by NASA to detect life. Dr Levin was confident that the experiment had detected microbial life on Mars, but his NASA colleagues disagreed and his startling finding was forgotten in the Martian sands of time. This new scientific investigation has concluded that Levin was right all along.  Here is what the team of scientists concluded in their 2012 report:

The only extraterrestrial life detection experiments ever conducted were the three which were components of the 1976 Viking Mission to Mars. Of these, only the Labeled Release experiment obtained a clearly positive response…. We have applied complexity analysis to the Viking LR data….We conclude that the complexity pattern seen in active experiments strongly suggests biology while the different pattern in the control responses is more likely to be non-biological….These analyses support the interpretation that the Viking LR experiment did detect extant microbial life on Mars.

So why has NASA not designed any new experiments for detecting current life on Mars? That’s the 2.5 billion dollar question that should be asked with the Curiosity mission and budget. Are we really expected to believe that after more than three decades since Viking, NASA still can’t design an experiment to conclusively answer whether or not life currently exists on Mars? Rather than Curiosity being a “bold step forward in learning about our neighboring planet,” it looks like an expensive step backwards to avoid renewed scientific controversy over whether or not life exists on Mars.

© Copyright 2012. Michael E. Salla. Exopolitics.org

Permission is granted to include extracts of this article on websites and email lists with a link to the original. This article is copyright © and should not be added in its entirety on other websites or email lists without author's permission.

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Edinburgh University is set to launch a series of six free online courses in Autumn 2012, one of which is titled: “Introduction to Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life”. The course involves five lectures to be presented online and will result in a certificate to all that complete it. Edinburgh is teaming up with Princeton and Stanford universities in an effort to make available undergraduate courses to a global audience for free as part of the Coursera consortium.  According to Edinburgh University spokesperson, Ranald Leask: “Something like extraterrestrial life comes out of a wide and deep base of knowledge and academic endeavour.” Leask is referring to the progress made by the scientific community in confirming the existence of distant exoplanets and that some of these have the right conditions for hosting life as we know it. Princeton was the first U.S. university to offer a degree in astrobiology. Now thanks to Edinburgh University, astrobiology courses that focus on questions concerning the existence of extraterrestrial life are going global.

Edinburgh’s “Search for Extraterrestrial Life” course will be taught by Professor Charles Cockell who has authored two books on Mars, worked for NASA, and is the current Director for the UK Center for Astrobiology. Cockell’s course will examine questions such as “Is there life on other planetary bodies?” and “How is it distributed throughout the Universe?”

According to Rory Reynolds from the Scotsman:

The first two weeks of the course explore the origins of life and how beings survive in extreme environments, with the focus in the third week moving to the possibility of life being discovered on other planets. The final week includes asking how contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence would be dealt with and what would be the impact on society. It concludes with the question “who would represent Earth?” in the event of first contact.

The course is a direct result in the ongoing discovery of exoplanets, some of which have been confirmed to exist in the habitable region of their suns. This has sparked a number of academic conferences focusing on the social and political impact of the discovery of extraterrestrial life. Two were hosted by the Royal Society of London in 2010, and led to much media interest over scientific speculations over the likely motivations of extraterrestrial life. The most notable has been Prof Stephen Hawkings’ view about space faring extraterrestrials being more likely predatory in nature than friendly.

Recent advances in space telescopes have now made it possible to detect alien metropolises on distant worlds. On May 8, 2012, NASA announced: “NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has detected light emanating from a “super-Earth” beyond our solar system for the first time. While the planet is not habitable, the detection is a historic step toward the eventual search for signs of life on other planets.”  According to Dario Borghino from  Gizmag: “This marks the first time that light has been detected from a planet of such a small size, and the find is telling astrophysicists where to look in their search for signs of life on planets beyond our own.”

The question to be examined in the final week of the Edinburgh Unniversity course, “who would represent Earth” in the case of contact is very significant. It first came to public prominence in 2010 in relation to Dr Mazlan Othman from the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs who was a presenter at the Royal Society astrobiology conference in October 2010. There was much media speculation over a story in the Sunday Times mistakenly claiming that Dr Othman would represent Earth on behalf of all humanity. In an earlier talk, Othman did say however:

The continued search for extraterrestrial communication, by several entities, sustains the hope that some day human kind will receive signals from extraterrestrials. When we do, we should have in place a coordinated response that takes into account all the sensitivities related to the subject. The UN is a ready-made mechanism for such coordination.

Edinburgh University’s upcoming “Introduction to Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life” course will open up an exciting new era in the study of extraterrestrial life. Core questions regarding the existence and societal implications of extraterrestrial life are being raised by respected scientists, and will now be discussed by students around the world. According to Jeff Haywood, vice principal of the University of Edinburgh, the number of students for the online course is potentially 100,000 students or more. That projected enrollment figure is in itself a remarkable possibility. Whether 100,000 students enroll or not, it is clear that the scholarly study of extraterrestrial life and its societal implications has entered mainstream scientific discourse and is now going global.

[Special Notice: The author teaches a course in the Exopolitics Institute’s Certification Program titled: The Science, Spirituality and Politics of Extraterrestrial Life. Fall Semester classes begin in early September. More info here.

© Copyright 2012. Michael E. Salla. Exopolitics.org

Permission is granted to include extracts of this article on websites and email lists with a link to the original. This article is copyright © and should not be added in its entirety on other websites or email lists without author’s permission.

Further Reading