Curiosity lands on Mars – bold step forward or backward in finding life?

By Michael E. Salla, Ph.D.

This artist’s concept features NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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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Russia’s mysterious space program

By Kevin W. Smith

Surface of Venus: Credit: Soviet Planetary Exploration Program

You are looking at an actual photograph from the surface of the planet Venus.  Though obtained from a NASA web page, this is not a NASA photo.  It is a Soviet era photo.  Try as you may, you cannot find such a photo made by a NASA spacecraft.  Why?  Because NASA has never made a successful landing on Venus with a craft capable of taking photos and transmitting them back to Earth.  They did make an accidental landing of a probe (Pioneer Venus 1).  It was accidental because the Pioneer Venus 1 dropped off 4 probes that were not designed to survive all the way down to the surface—but one did.  The others were destroyed by the immense heat and pressure of the atmosphere.  So, NASA accidentally dropped something on Venus, but the Russians actually landed there.

Not only did the Russians successfully land on Venus, they did it 10 times!  And that, my friends, is a gigantic mystery.

The Russian space scientists and engineers are among the best in history.  They were the first to put anything at all into orbit around Earth.  They were the first to put a man in space, and he was the first man to orbit the Earth.  They were the first to send spacecraft to the moon.  They were the first to build a space station and to fly it successfully.  By the way, it was not a Mir space station.  It was the Salyut-1 (1971) a prototype for the Almaz spy space station (1973).  Alamaz was the code name for the spy station run using a Salyut-1 space craft.

So, with all that massive success in space, why do I say it is a mystery that they have landed successfully on Venus ten times?

Well, here is the mystery.

Leaving Earth, Venus is the next planet toward the sun.  Let’s say it is our next door neighbor on the left.  Mars is the next planet away from the sun.  Let’s say it is our next door neighbor to the right.

When leaving the driveway and headed to the left (to Venus), Russia has tremendous success, success NASA has not had, and accomplished what NASA has not even tried.  When Russia leaves the driveway and heads to the right (to Mars), they have an almost 90% failure rate.  How can that even be possible?

America is hitchhiking aboard Russian spacecraft in order to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station.  The Russians are still flying in space and NASA is not.  Russia is flying the Soyuz (Soviet era) spacecraft which is renowned as one of the safest and most reliable spacecraft ever flown.  Their science and engineering is virtually peerless.   Yet, there is a disturbing and mysterious fact that is inexplicable:  they can successfully send spacecraft anywhere they want—except to Mars.

This fact is so glaringly obvious that is impossible to overlook.  It is so out of step that it rises to the level of extremely suspicious.

Vladimir Putin has grumbled that he thinks this strange fact is due to sabotage.  He has not stated publically whom he believes the suspect(s) to be, but he has raised the possibility that the Russian space missions to Mars are being purposely sabotaged.

Is such a thing really possible?  We are talking about decades of Russian attempts to send spacecraft to Mars.  If the Russian missions to Mars are being sabotaged, we are talking about a decades long operation that has remained unexposed against all odds.  Whether the ostensible saboteurs are Russian space program insiders, or agents of a foreign government, it is rather a stretch to think such an operation could remain undiscovered over such a long period of time.  Anything is possible, of course, but everything is not likely.

So what else could account for this strange disparity between the Russian space program to Venus and their program to Mars?  They can land on Venus just about anytime they want while they can’t even get to Mars.  What’s up with that?

I have no answers or solutions to this mystery, but it is a mystery that certainly has my attention.  It is a mystery that genuinely merits investigation.

©2012 by Kevin W. Smith.
All rights reserved.

This article may be freely published in any format so long as it is published unedited and contains the author’s link and this copyright notice.

SpaceX docks with ISS: the dark side of corporations in space

Michael E. Salla, Ph.D.

Conceptal artwork of the SpaceX Dragon attatched to the ISS Station. Picture: NASA

Today the SpaceX Dragon craft caught up with and began docking with the International Space Station (ISS). After SpaceX’s successful launch on Tuesday morning, NASA’s administrator Charles Bolden said: “There were people who thought that [NASA] had gone away [with the retirement of the space shuttles]. But today says, No, we’re not gone away at all. We’ve got the SpaceX-NASA team, and they came through this morning with flying colors.” The SpaceX mission is part of a long term strategy of turning over supply and transport of the ISS to the private sector. The buzz word now is private sector cooperation with NASA in near Earth missions, while NASA concentrates on more expensive deep space missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. Is private sector involvement in the space industry a good thing? According to the Obama administration, NASA and SpaceX CEO Edwin Musk, that’s a big affirmative. Yet, there is a historical dark side to private sector involvement in space missions.

In the movie Avatar, a private corporation is running a mining operation on the moon, Pandora, of a giant gaseous exoplanet in the Alpha Centauri star system. Driven by profit margins, the corporation displays few scruples in driving off the indigenous population from land where a precious metal, unobtanium, is found. The movie depicts a future where private sector involvement in space is dictated by greed, secrecy and unaccountable actions by corporate managers. The underlying premise is that such excesses would not have happened with a government run space mission such as NASA where public transparency and accountability is the norm. Could something similar happen in the future with SpaceX and other corporations destined to partner with NASA in space missions? More importantly, has the private sector already been deeply involved in space missions that have been conducted without public knowledge?

A glimpse into the hidden world of classified space missions is found in the memoirs of President Ronald Reagan. The entry for Tuesday, June 11, 1985 (page 334) reads:

Lunch with 5 top space scientist. It was fascinating. Space truly is the last frontier and some of the developments there in astronomy etc. are like science fiction, except they are real. I learned that our shuttle capacity is such that we could orbit 300 people.

This is curious since the Space Shuttle held a maximum of eight people and only five were built for space flight. Even if all five took off fully loaded at any one time, it would have been impossible to place and maintain 300 astronauts in orbit. Was Reagan revealing the existence of a highly classified space program different to NASA’s, that could accommodate hundreds of astronauts in orbit? Yes, according to dozens of military and corporate whistleblowers, who claim that a secret space program exists, and was built by private corporations.

According to whistleblower testimony, corporations have become the ultimate repository of the nation’s secrets concerning advanced technology programs involved in classified space missions. Even more significant are claims that some of these programs are related to the UFO phenomenon and extraterrestrial life. Whistleblowers have come forward to reveal how corporations have achieved control over these classified programs. A deceased corporate whistleblower revealed how during the mid-1980s, he worked for six months as an archivist for a large aerospace defense contractor based in California. It was a temporary assignment with his employer at an obscure office building. The archivist found many files dealing with flying saucers and extraterrestrial life. The files contained: “Reports, photos, media materials (tapes, films, video cassettes) and material from crashed saucers.” When asked where the files came from he revealed the “materials came from everywhere. CIA, Air Force, Navy, Army, DARPA, NORAD, DoD, FBI, and government officials to name most.”


If the archivist’s testimony is accurate, this means that prior to the mid-1980s UFO files were taken out of the possession of U.S. government agencies and military departments due to security concerns. One reason for this is that the proprietary rights of corporations would enable UFO files to remain hidden from the prying hands of congressmen, and private citizens using the Freedom of Information Act first passed in 1966 and strengthened in 1974.

The above scenario is supported by comments by Ben Rich, former CEO of Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works. In hand written responses to questions from John Andrews of the Testor Corporation in 1986, Rich confirmed the existence of both man-made and extraterrestrial UFOs. Most importantly, Rich revealed to Andrews how control of UFO files had slipped from the U.S. military to private corporations. Andrews relayed Rich’s responses to questions from UFO investigator William McDonald which confirmed:

There are two types of UFOs — the ones we build, and ones THEY build. We learned from both crash retrievals and actual “Hand-me-downs.” The Government knew, and until 1969 took an active hand in the administration of that information. After a 1969 Nixon “Purge”, administration was handled by an international board of directors in the private sector.

Former astronaut, Dr Edgar Mitchell has confirmed an incident in 1997 where the Head of Intelligence for the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff was supplied the code names of UFO related projects, but was denied need-to-know access. The first to report the incident was UFO researcher, Dr Steven Greer, who in 2001 revealed that Admiral Wilson was furious over his failure to gain access. On a July 4, 2008 CNN interview, Dr Mitchell confirmed Greer’s version of events when he said that Admiral Wilson “had found the people responsible for the cover-up and for the people who were in the know and were told, I’m sorry, admiral, you do not have need to know here and so, goodbye.” A reliable source furthermore revealed to UFO researcher Richard Dolan that Admiral Wilson was frustrated by attorneys of a corporation that denied him access.

The only means for private citizens to monitor government actions is to use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Yet FOIA doesn’t cover private corporations that regularly fulfill thousands of government contracts in sensitive national security projects. The private sector has become a means of hiding the nation’s deepest secrets when it comes to advanced technology and space travel from an unsuspecting public.

The successful SpaceX mission appears to open a bright vista of future cooperation between corporations and government agencies in space. Yet this belies a darker history of corporate involvement in highly classified space missions involving advanced technologies, some of which are related to the UFO phenomenon. These classified programs have been conducted with no public transparency and accountability. History has shown that without transparency and accountability, governments cannot be relied upon to conduct policy in a way that is consistent with nation’s constitutional values. This is even less the case for private corporations, driven by profit margins and proprietary interests when it comes to advanced technology programs. Yes, let’s celebrate SpaceX’s accomplishments, but keep in mind that this doesn’t open up a new chapter of corporate government cooperation in space. Such cooperation has been secretly happening in the classified world for decades. Uncovering the dark history of corporate involvement in classified space missions will be truly something to celebrate.

© 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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