IKI in Moscow (the Institute of Space Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Soviet equivalent of NASA) had hoped that, just as the Soviet Vega spacecraft which flew close to Halley's Comet in 1986 and took 10,000 instrumented observations, detecting grains of ice and dust, the very elements essential for life (hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and nitrogen), similarly the Mars Phobos II probe would also find signs of primitive life. But in March of 1989 the Russian spacecraft Phobos II, programmed for intensive studies of the geology of the red planet, disappeared from the Russian tracking system as it was performing a preliminary survey of the Martian surface. This was the most sophisticated, powerful and costly package of Soviet and European electronics and instrumentation sent to Mars from the Earth prior to 1993 and was expected to perform over thirty joint Russian-European experiments when all its cameras shut off suddenly and the "total loss of the craft" was officially noted.
One of the last images relayed to earth in detail by the Phobos II camera before data transmission was lost was an enormous elliptical shadow on the surface of Mars -- cigar-shaped, and an estimated 25-27 kilometers (approxi- mately 16 miles) in length. The size of this object ruled out the possibility that it was a reflection of the Phobos spacecraft itself. Because of its of its position, its symmetrical shape, its size and its movement, no features on the surface of Mars in the area in front of the probe, nor the satellite moons of Phobos and Deimos, nor the Phobos II spacecraft itself could account for this shadow pattern occurring in the very last frames of data successfully transmitted to earth.
Was the shadow evidence that the spacecraft made contact with a non-human intelligence life form before it permanently disappeared? According to Soviet test pilot Col. Marina Popovitch, no geological features transmitted in the Phobos data tracks could have caused this unique shadow pattern. It was believed by investigators who studied the details of this shadow that appeared just prior to Phobos II's disappearance that it was the shadow of a craft that was not on the surface of Mars but that was hovering or levitating above the planet.
Col. Marina Popovitch further stated in a public interview that the shadow seen in connection with the lost spacecraft was brought up in conversations between President Gorbachev and President Bush in December 1989 at the Malta summit. The Soviet government refused to acknowledge extraterrestrial intelligence, even though many of their top military and commercial pilots have made credible reports of such sightings. For example, at Moscow airport during test flights of an Aeroflot IL-96-300 plane in the spring of 1990, several strange objects in the sky were witnessed and photographed.
The sighting of the shadow on Mars should be enough to convince many that there may be intelligent life orbiting Mars, but in August of 1993 another event of major proportions took place that sent a tremendous rumble through the US space program. The $400,000,000 US Mars Observer probe, sent to map in detail the surface of the red planet, was lost just as it prepared to make its Mars orbital insertion. Signals were sent to pressurize the fuel tanks in the propulsion system, in preparation for rocket firings that would slow the spacecraft down and allow it to be captured by the planet's gravity field, but the Observer's antenna, which was to receive and acknowledge Jet Propulsion Laboratory's signal, never responded. Scientists concluded, a short time after the loss of the probe, that the spacecraft must have exploded when the fuel tanks were being pressurized. The cost of the entire mission was close to one billion dollars.
Immediately, cries of "incompetence" and even the notion of "Cover-up" and "Conspiracy" rang out in the world press accounts. In particular, NASA was charged with deliberately concealing a story of massive importance on the Mars mission, the Martian land forms, and even details on the so-called "Face on Mars." But what are the other realities?
In 1972, the Mariner 9 probe brought back evidence of unusual pyramidal structures on the Martian surface in the Elysium Quadrangle, and NASA's 1976 Viking I and II probes of the red planet relayed images of a face and pyramidal complex at the Cydonia site on Mars. Although the vast majority of NASA scientists saw nothing unusual in the Mariner 9 and Viking pictures, a minority felt that some of the unusual landform configurations merited a closer look with better optical-imaging systems. These artifacts may signal the existence of perhaps even an extra-solar intelligence that is cautious about our venturing out into space.
Is it possible that the American mission, losing communication with its Mars Observer, met with a fate similar to that of the Soviet Phobos II? In short, rather than the Observer episode signifying a "cover-up" by NASA or a "conspiracy on the part of US government officials," taking the termination of the Phobos II probe into account, we might ask: Is it possible that there is a more powerful intelligence in space that may be watching our planetary endeavors? There may be an extra-solar intelligence already with a base on Mars that is watching and waiting for the the human race's next events in accepting and understanding the operations of parallel evolution. The "Face on Mars" may be a sort of Rorschach ink blot test, or a psychological mirror: It may indicate that we need to overcome our desire for cultural domination and realize that our technology may be harmful to other planetary environments. It may indicate that we must first understand the conditions of a larger evolutionary reality.
The unusual signatures of a much larger story seem to suggest that there truly exist, on the larger evolutionary space-time horizon, forces which one might call the celestial "higher-ups" in the frontiers of space that have other designs for contact and work on Mars. Perhaps, when we conquer our desire to be eternal cosmic warriors and can get beyond the "conspiracy" theories we apply to things we do not understand then we can begin to use our sister planet as a stepping-stone for peaceful space colonization and our own eventual settlements as Peace-Makers amongst the stars.