World-Class Astrobiologist Says "NASA's
Hiding Current Life on Mars!"
By Richard C. Hoagland
and Mike Bara
© 2008 The Enterprise Mission
Just a few weeks ago (May 25th ...), NASA landed its latest
unmanned spacecraft -- the Phoenix Mission -- on the surface
of the planet Mars, this time near the Red Planet's North Pole (below).
The name "Phoenix"
covers a host of metaphorical allusions familiar to this readership; the
NASA Phoenix Mission (which now officially ends with the coming
of Martian Winter in Mars' Northern Hemisphere, on September 30, 2008)
has two official goals:
"... to study the history
of water and [the] habitability
potential in the Martian arctic's ice-rich soil ...."
Note that this latest NASA mission was NOT (again!) specifically
equipped "to search for life on Mars," but only conditions "favorable
To that end, the Phoenix lander carries a
complement of six scientific instruments -- ranging from two digital
color cameras (one in stereo), to a robotic sampler arm (below) -- the
latter designed for digging in the soil and conveying samples of that
soil to two of those six instruments, the ones involving detailed chemical
Unfortunately (by accident ... design?), these two instruments
cannot directly sense the presence of such potental Martian life
forms in that soil (with one potential caveat ...), but only the chemical
prerequisites of such potential life ... and ... some of its
calculated by-products -- should they currently
The "caveat" is the presence of a high-powered
microscope (one of two on-board, actually - see image, below) -- this
one associated with the "wet chemistry" experiment (known as
by use of this powerful optical microscope, if there were living
bacterial or microbial life forms present in the sampled Martian soil,
they could visually be seen ... especially ... if they moved
between successive downlinked images!
(Displayed below are several small sand particles imaged
by the microscope, after the initial soil collection for the MECA.)
Of the aforementioned "prerequisites"
for Martian life forms ... the one that Phoenix is most interested
in is water.
* * *
Thus, it was with some fanfare that NASA, on July 31,
announced that Phoenix had finally, chemically, detected
liquid water in its Martian arctic soils (as melted ice ...)
-- making this, at least, the fifth time that "detection
of water on Mars" has been officially announced by NASA!
This occasion, however, was quite different:
A Phoenix lander chemistry instrument (called
physically "tasted" this crucial Martian water -- leaving no
doubt as to its presence; previous NASA "water announcements"
had been based on remote sensing -- from a variety of spacecraft photographs
of Mars, taken from high orbit -- images which present a great diversity
of visual circumstantial evidence for the former existence of
"a great flood of running on water on the Planet Mars" ... but
not "when" it might have been there.
The TEGA insituwater measurements left no doubt: there
is a vast amount of frozen water in the arctic latitudes on Mars ... right
Thus, the first major "life question" that Phoenix
so elegantly answered was confirmation of the existence of current
water in the soil -- which, of course, could then be used by any current
Martian microbes that might be living in that soil!
With reference to the "habitability" part of
Phoenix' scientific mandate, NASA had made an earlier announcement
(even before its confirmation of the water ...) on June 27, 2008, regarding
the nature of the soil itself ... retrieved from one of its excavated
trenches and analyzed by the on-board MECA instrument (the white flecks
visible at the bottom of those trenches -- below -- are exposed layers
of frozen Martian ice lying just beneath the surface soils.)
To quote the NASA
scientist conducting this first, extremely provocative "Martian
arctic soil habitability analysis":
by this data,” said Sam Kounaves, the lead scientist for
the wet chemistry experiment on the Phoenix spacecraft,
which landed May 25 on Mars. “We’ve found nutrients
that could support life” [emphasis added] ...."
This was then followed by my (Hoagland's) favorite all-time
"... you might be able to grow asparagus
very well [on Mars],” Kounaves said [emphasis added].
However, one day following the release of the Phoenix
water confirmation, on July 31st, rumors began to circulate "...
NASA is holding something back." Craig Covault, Senior Editor
of "AvWeek" (Aviation Week and Space Technology -- the "bible"
of the aerospace industry) reported
in an August 1 story:
"The White House has been alerted by NASA
about plans to make an announcement soon on major new Phoenix
lander discoveries concerning the "potential for life"
on Mars, scientists tell Aviation Week & Space Technology.
"Sources say the new data do not indicate
the discovery of existing or past life on Mars. Rather the data
relate to habitability -- the 'potential' for Mars to support
life -- at the Phoenix arctic landing site, sources say.
"The data are much more complex than results
related NASA's July 31 announcement that Phoenix has
confirmed the presence of water ice at the site ...."
A few days later, NASA held (according to some reporters)
a "non-news ... news conference" -- announcing the detection
of a curious additional chemical in both of its earlier soil analyses:
something called "perchlorate"; the perchlorate molecule consists
of four oxygen atoms surrounding a central chlorine atom. With its discovery,
concern was expressed in some news stories that "perchlorates"
(which can weakly oxidize organic materials) reduced the previously-announced
soil's "habitability for life."
Not so, said Sam Kounaves.
According to an
MSNBC report, on the specifics from the NASA "perchlorate" news
briefing -- by Science Editor, Alan Boyle:
"... Tufts University's Sam Kounaves, a member
of the MECA team, said he still thought asparagus would
grow well in soil from Mars, even with the perchlorate. 'At this
point, I still don't have any reason why it wouldn't,' he told
msnbc.com [emphasis added] ...."
It was this "curious neutrality" of the announced
new discovery -- not tipping the balance either way in the on-going
quest for "life on Mars" (so ... why have a news conference
-- which is supposed to be about "news?") -- which caused some
reporters to suspect that there was, indeed, another story lurking
in the wings ... pressaged by Covault's earlier reporting of a secret
"White House NASA Mars briefing ..."
Another, hidden story -- which the hurriedly-called
NASA "perchlorate news conference" was actually designed to
deflect attention from ....
* * *
Then, ten days following this "perchlorate press
conference," the Indo-Asian News Services abruptly
a remarkable interview with a world-class Indian astronomer and biologist
-- "astrobiologist" Chandra Wickramasinghe -- who said, unambiguously:
"... the [recently confirmed] discovery of
liquid water on Mars, combined with earlier discoveries of organic
substances in a meteorite that came from Mars, and also of
methane in the Martian atmosphere, all point to the existence
of life -- contemporary life -- on the Red Planet [emphasis
Chandra Wickramasinghe, among other things, was the inspiration
for a key character in Arthur C. Clarke's provocative sequel to "2001:
A Space Odyssey," "2010
- Odyssey Two."
In that same Indo-Asian News Service interview, Wickramasinghe
then -- quite courageously -- also calmly asserted that NASA is deliberately
withholding this explosive information "... for political
and sociological considerations."
In other words ... because of "Brookings!"
He then went on to remind everyone that this is NOT a
"recent story," but goes back to the seminal work of Dr. Gil
Levin, head of the original Viking "Labeled Release Experiment"
-- whose pioneering soil analysis
on Mars in 1976 came back positive for life ... over thirty
years ago!; yet, NASA has subsequently, consistently, insisted that Levin's
results are NOT legitimate -- a conclusion based on the inability of another
Viking instrument (the "GCMS")
to find any "organics" (the "dead bodies"
from current Martian life ...) in that same soil.
It has since been proven, however, via tests undertaken
in similar dry soils in Antarctica -- demonstrably containing, fro other
tests, abundant microorganisms -- that the Viking "organic
detection experiment" was seriously flawed; it could NOT detect "the
dead bodies" from some prohected levels of living populations of
Martian microorganisms ("The Missing Organic Molecules On Mars"
-- published in the PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, Vol.
97, p 2425, March 18, 2000) .... It even had difficulty detecting certain
type of key organics from those organisms -- even if present in significant
amounts -- within its tested Martian soils!
Yet, despite this conflicting scientific evidence (some
of it obtained even before the launch of Viking ...),
NASA has still taken every opportunity -- across more than 30
years -- to marginalize Levin's astonishing, positive "life
detection" results from his successful experiment on Mars.
Results such as ....
In 2000, a circadian biologist and
neuroscientist from Texas Tech University, Dr. Joseph Miller, digging
through old Viking data, announced that there may be completely
unappreciated circadian rhythms in Levin Viking biology
"... I was completely astounded to see oscillations
in the Labeled Release experiment with a period of one Martian
SOL [Martian day]" Miller said [emphasis added].
Circadian rhythms are metabolic cycles indicative of living
organisms, that (on Earth ...) take about 24 hours to complete from
start to finish. Myriad "circadian rhythm experiments" in the
1950's and 1960's established that these biological cycles are remarkable
resilient -- capable of being maintained across a range of external environmental
factors, even in total darkness and in total isolation from all other
outside influences ....
Miller's provisional identification of Martian
day-length circadian rhythms, emmenating from possible Martian
microorgansims living in the soil samples that Levin was anayzing within
his Viking instrument ... on Mars ... was potentially
It was for all these reasons that one of us (Hoagland)
announced before the Denver
Libertarian Party National Nominating Convention, the evening Phoenix
landed safely on the Red Planet (May 25th) that, "for political reasons"
NASA would likely announce -- before the November, 2008 Elections
-- that it had (finally!) "discovered life on Mars."
repeated this daring prediction one day later ... on May 26, 2008
-- to George Noory and the national radio audience of "Coast to Coast
Three months later, Chandra Wickramasinghe --
completely independently -- would also directly
accuse NASA of sitting on such data "... essentially from as
long ago as Viking ... from 30 years ago!"
Which would make it possible for NASA to "discover"
Martian life now any time it was politically expedient to
Possibly, as early as this coming
* * *
What NASA seems to be waiting for ... before it makes
its "Big Announcement" ... are the results of the second
"life prerequisite" experiment: the independent Phoenix
search, with 30
years more sensitive equipment (down to "10 parts per billion
..."), for those same, critical organic molecules that Viking
failed to find three decades ago.
That crucial detection of "organics"
-- the remains of once-living Martian microorganisms, now decomposing
in the soils around the Phoenix lander -- would be the clincher
... and the trigger for the Big Announcement; as such, it could come literally
any day ... if such a detection hasn't already been achieved
and then quietly briefed to the Bush White House--
Exactly as Craig Covault's controversial AvWeek article
suggested, weeks ago!
Picture that: the Bush White House ... waiting ... for
"the Perfect Political Timing"--
To make its own "History-Changing Mars Announcment"--
In this iconic "Year of Change" ....
Significantly, in this same time-frame, several other
"curious events" around this subject have also taken place--
The first was a remarkable public statement by William
Shatner (Captain Kirk!), during an on-line
video interview regarding Star Trek -- taped just before the Phoenix
spacecraft arrived at Mars.
Said Shatner, in answer to a question "Do you believe
in extraterrestrial life?"--
"... I will let you in on a little secret,
that I have been told not to reveal ... so I wont reveal
who told me. But, there is going to be new information
about Mars. It wont be too long away [emphasis added] ...."
I mean, if you're going to leak the imminent announcement
of "life on Mars" (!) ... who more perfect to leak to
... than "the Captain of the Enterprise ...?"
The second "curious development" was an equally
remarkable phone call I received about a month after Phoenix
had sucessfully begun carrying out its various experiments ... from one
of my long-time " intel sources."
According to this source, the White House had
just had a quiet meeting -- regarding "when" to announce "NASA
confirmation of life in the Martian soil" from Phoenix.
According to this source, the issue was NOT that NASA "had just discovered
life from Phoenix"; what it was discussing with the White
House was when would be the most "leveraged time" in
this political season to announce such a discovery ... and
"blame it" on the Phoenix Mission!
What was remarkable about this call
was the fact that it literally came weeks before Craig
Covault reported independently on a similar "mysterious White House
Mars Briefing ..." -- in his controversial (and later, much denied
by NASA ...) AvWeek
What made all this really special was the fact
that the same source also said (and in this same phone call ...)
that both presidential campaigns -- McCain's and Obama's -- had
just had similar briefings (part of the normal "national security"
procedures for every about-to-be-elected president). And
that McCain (because of his 26 years of Senate Armed Services and Intelligence
Committtee experience ...) already knew most of what the briefing told
him. The problem (so I was, again, "informed" ...) was with
He didn't know whether to believe the briefing!
Obama's major concern (according
to this phone call) -- given the mind-blowing, "history-changing"
nature of the information (for most Americans ...) -- was that he was
being "gamed" by the Bush White House ... in a (literal) "mind-blowing
attempt to set him up" ... for some kind of "credibility problem"
in the campaign later on!
However, within weeks of this alledged "life on Mars"
candidates began making extemely supportive, public statements regarding
NASA and its proposed "Constellation Program" to go back
to the Moon; in Obama's case, this was a definite, startling, 180-degree
shift in policy from his previous well-known position (that he would
delay current NASA plans to return to the Moon, and devote the resourcs
instead to "education").
Obama was now suddenly proposing an additional
$2 billion in annual funding for NASA, and ... just as suddenly ... also
publicly supporting a manned mission to Mars, after "returning
to the Moon!"
Clearly, "something" pretty dramatic must have
It would be nice to claim that we were, in fact,
a bit responsible for this "sea change"; that the White
Paper (below) we had specifically written this Spring to inform all
the candidates re the "National Treasure" that is NASA -- that
the Space Agency could represent once again ... if properly managed
and utilized by a new, visionary president -- had gotten through
We do know for a fact that the Enterprise White
Paper was delivered to all the candidates this Spring -- with copies personally
handed to Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton by a
"most trusted source." Other copies were delivered to both Obama
and McCain, by other "personal messengers" ....
But the reality is, that an official campaign briefing
by the White House -- on the imminent announcement of "other living
creatures in the solar system ..." -- was probably a tad more persuasive
to their thinking ....
* * *
All this "cloak and dagger" stuff will, of course,
be quite familiar to readers of Dark
Mission -- which lays out virtually the same case for NASA deliberately
hiding "all the good stuff" -- not just microbial life
on Mars, but artificial ruins ... and, all across the solar system!
-- in its heavily footnoted 550 pages.
The only significant area of disagreement between our
premise, regarding wide-spread deceit by NASA -- and, Dr. Wickramasinghe’s
separate and courageous indictment of NASA's deliberate withholding of
the most amazing evidence of current "life on Mars"
-- is that the good doctor still clings to the “honest but stupid”
model of NASA’s (otherwise, to him) "inexplicable behavior."
While, we know that NASA is operating -- as it
has been for fifty years -- on a carefully calculated, “timed release
aspirin,” national security model -- dictated (in part)
by the paranoid excuses framed by "the
Augmented -- this unique year -- by Karl Rove's converging
campaign calculations ....
So as to bring maximum political advantage, regarding
this extraordinary new Reality, to ... John McCain.
the Enterprise Conference – and Explore the Implications of This Remarkable
New Discovery with Other Members of the “Enterprise Crew” ….