The Mysterious Destruction of Phobos II
For many centuries, humanity has been obsessed with the idea of intelligent aliens residing upon the seemingly lifeless surface of Mars. Interestingly, in the end of the 1980s, there is evidence that Russia may have been the nation to have come the closest to proving the existence of such intelligent aliens. In this post, we examine the mysterious destruction of Phobos II.
The Phobos Mission
The mood in the control room was upbeat as the technicians continued to monitor the signals being beamed back through the depths of space by the probe. It'd been a tense six-month wait for the craft to finally arrive at its destination, overshadowed by the mysterious failure of the first satellite which had been launched ahead of it. But this time, the journey had been completed with relatively few setbacks. Of the three computers controlling the probe, one had unfortunately suffered a software failure. But this malfunction had not prevented the device from completing its primary scan of the surface of Phobos, before starting to transmit images back to Earth.
Thus far, the mission was proving to be amongst the most successful that the Soviet space agency had launched. And there was nothing to suggest that the controllers would not be able to progress to the next stage, which involved the deployment of two landers on the surface of the desolate moon it was now orbiting. Standing at an elevated position above the control room, the senior technician watched on with pride as the scientists and the technicians studied an image on the monitors below him.
This was the 36th picture from the probe to be received so far, a veritable treasure trove of data which would take months to analyze and dissect. There was a sudden and unexpected commotion from the far side of the room. Amidst the raised voices, the controller heard someone shout that something unexpected had been identified on the satellite sensors. A large unidentified mass had materialized in a higher orbit and was now slowly descending towards the probe.
Realizing that there was insufficient time to try and program the satellite to move, in order to avoid any possible collision, the Controller shouted across to the technician responsible for the device's camera and asked him to take a photograph. It would still take several minutes for this command to travel through space and reach the small craft, but hopefully this was sufficient time in order to shed some light on the mystery, should the worst happen.
For the next few minutes, all eyes in the control room remained fixed upon the data being received by the probe sensors, until another technician shouted that all contact had been lost. The hours which were spent trying to re-establish communications with the satellite soon progressed in to days. No signals were either being received by or transmitted from the device. It was clear that something must have collided with and completely destroyed it. As he later prepared himself to brief the oversight committee, which had asked him for an update on the situation, the controller stared down at the final photograph, which the probe had taken.
The image depicted a huge elliptical shadow, being cast down onto the surface of Phobos beneath the orbiting satellite. He would later admit under questioning that he had no idea what might have caused such an anomaly and that if it was not an anomaly, then he had no idea what it was. He had defended his calculations regarding the size the unknown object would have to have been to cast such an enormous shadow. He would also concede that the shape of the object did seem to depict what the Americans referred to as a flying saucer, before walking out to the briefing room, leaving the committee members sitting behind him in stunned silence.
The Discovery Of The Martian Moons
The initial discovery of the Martian Moons occurred in August of 1877, when observers at the United States Naval Observatory detected two bodies in orbit around the red planet. In time, they would name the pair Phobos and Deimos after the twin sons of Ares, the Greek God of War. For his own part, Phobos was the god of fear and panic and this choice of name would later prove chillingly appropriate.
Decades of close observation would go on to reveal that Phobos was the closest Celestial body to a parent planet in the solar system, closer than any other satellite which had then been discovered. Such proximity had resulted in an extremely rapid orbit, taking the Martian moon a mere eight hours to travel around the entire circumference of its host. It was also noted that Phobos was amongst the least reflective of all satellites. It would not be until images of the twin Martian moons were first transmitted back to Earth by the American Mariner 7 probe in 1969 that the reason for such darkness became clear.
Phobos and Deimos were both ancient masses of shattered and crumpled rock debris, which had been compacted together in orbit around Mars. The prevailing theory surrounding the pair's formation was that in its distant past, Mars was subject to a devastating collision with another object, potentially a protoplanet. This apocalyptic cataclysm propelled millions of tons of rock and dust up into the atmosphere, some of which collided together to create the two moons.
With NASA showing little interest in the origins or makeup of Phobos and Deimos, it was Russia who became the first nation to announce a planned mission to explore them. During the summer of 1988, the Soviets announced that two probes have been launched, with the intention of photographing and collecting samples from the surface of Phobos. But a third of the way into the six-month journey, contact was unexpectedly lost with one of the two probes.
The Images of the Mysterious Moon Phobos
In August of 1988, operators discovered that the missing craft's thrusters had been mistakenly deactivated by a hidden software glitch, causing its solar panels to lose line of sight with the sun and in turn suffer a catastrophic power failure. However, the second probe successfully arrived at Phobos on the 29th of January, 1989, and immediately began to capture images of the mysterious moon below. For two months, it dutifully transmitted the steady stream of data to its coordinators back on Earth, ahead of a planned final descent to the surface, in order to deposit two landers. But, inexplicably, on the afternoon of the 28th of March, a large mass was detected, seeming to be closing in on the probe.
With insufficient time available to program a device's thrusters in order to avoid a collision, the decision was instead made to hurriedly try and capture a photograph at the approaching object. Shortly after this, all contact with the probe was lost. Technicians spent several days trying to re-establish control of the satellite, before concluding it must have been destroyed, as it was neither receiving nor returning any of their signals.
The most disturbing development of the affair, though, would come with the receipt of the final photo to be taken by the Phobos 2 probe, immediately prior to its inexplicable destruction. The black and white image it transmitted depicted a huge elliptical shadow being projected down onto the moon's surface below where the satellite had been in orbit.
When asked if this picture could potentially be the result of a software glitch or some form of instrumentation failure, the mission technicians replied that this was impossible. The image had been taken using two separate cameras, one of which had possessed an infrared filter. The timings of the image also matched up with the last sensor data which had been received immediately prior to the collision.
Even more troubling were the calculations made by scientists regarding the possible size of the oval object which was responsible for this shadow. Using the established points of reference for the probe's camera, they informed the authorities that this unknown mass must have measured at least a terrifying 20 kilometers in diameter. As those responsible for the creation of the mission struggled to come to terms with this information, there was further unexpected news.
Enhancement of one of the existing images sent by the probe had seemingly revealed the structure rising up out of the rocky surface, in the vicinity of the enormous Stickney Crater. Calculations revealed that this massive structure must have been somewhere in the region of 90 meters tall and 85 metres in width. It appeared to be shooting up directly out of the ground, pointing menacingly at the orbiting probe. Its smooth and shiny surface in stark contrast to the cratered and shuttered landscape it had emerged from.
What was the object in the image?
The Russian authorities found themselves with troubling questions, which now needed to be answered. Who or what had destroyed their probe, and was this an accidental incident, or a quite deliberate and aggressive act? And was their craft's destruction a direct result of the mysterious structure it had seemingly discovered and documented?
Despite a determined effort to prevent the true details behind the loss of the probe leaking out to the media, it was not long before the stories surrounding what had taken place began to emerge. Several articles published in both the Russian and international press, including leaked photos of both the descending shadow and the monolith, resulted in no small amount of speculation.
The most widespread claim was that the Phobos 2 probe had been destroyed by a giant alien mothership, descending from above towards the surface of Phobos. Given this alleged vessel's huge diameter, there was speculation that the supposed collision may have been accidental as the vast craft may have simply been unaware of the probe's presence beneath it.
Some authors instead alleged that the alien vessel had quite deliberately destroyed the probe, due to the fact it had detected the monolith, which was only part of a larger alien settlement situated on or beneath the surface of the Martian moon. Others claim that the monolith shown in the image may have been some form of ancient device or weapon, and it had been the structure itself, which had obliterated the passing satellite, somehow shooting it out of the sky.
Much has been made by astronomers regarding the possibility that Phobos is potentially somewhat hollow in nature, with huge voids lying between the various rocks and boulders which combine to make up its larger structure, held together by only a thin surface crust. Similar assertions have been put forward in relation to our own Moon and that civilizations may indeed have resided beneath the surface of these celestial objects, largely hidden away from the probes we have dispatched.
It is only rarely that purported evidence of their existence has ever been captured. Is it possible that the arrival of the probe in orbit over Phobos, where it unexpectedly captured evidence of an alien civilization, may have been the reason for its destruction?
Given the tensions generated by the decades-long Cold War which had been raging, it is unsurprising that the finger of blame was also inevitably pointed towards the US Government. Like the Russians, had they secretly been conducting covert space flights, and already sent their own craft with destructive capabilities to the red planet?
The two images captured by the probe do prove troublesome to explain away with any conviction. It is clear from the accompanying data, which was received alongside them that they are not the result of any kind of technical issue, and that they were genuinely captured by the probe's cameras. But those who seek to debunk the concept of a secret alien base being hidden away on Phobos point to the disappointing track-record of the Soviet space program. Two further Martian probes of an identical design, which were later launched by the Russian space agency in 1996 and 2011, both failed to successfully reach the red planet.
In 1989, at the time of Phobos 2's arrival, of the three computers which were on board the probe, one had failed completely and the second was also malfunctioning. It is entirely possible that the device could indeed have been lost as a result of an internal malfunction and that no actual collision ever took place.
In terms of the monolith, it is widely believed that this structure is little more than a naturally occurring feature, much like other alleged constructions depicted on the surface of Mars itself. The famed Martian face and other alleged structures such as pyramids, and space stations, which have been observed on the Martian landscape have since proven to be nothing more than striking rock features, which have gone on to disappear through weathering and erosion.
Scientists maintain that, like these examples, the Phobos monolith is merely a tall rock that happens to be sticking up and out of the ground, likely deposited there during the cataclysmic event that first created the moon. A combination of shadow, and the angle at which the image was taken at the point it was captured have combined together to add mystery to an object which may otherwise be completely natural.
And yet, alleged sightings of alien structures on the surface of our own moon, and as a result of further Martian exploration continue to surface online. And with each passing year, these images seem to become progressively difficult for the scientific community to explain away.
Advances in the imaging technology installed on exploratory probes and the decision to make them accessible to the general public via the internet over revealed new mysteries. High definition imaging shows inexplicable color variations, which seem to prove more than ever that there are odd features on the surface of our neighboring planets which simply cannot be naturally occurring. Will it continue to be possible to dismiss these images as simple and coincidental rock formations, or some form of optical illusion? Or are we inevitably heading for a time and event where undeniable proof of alien civilization is unexpectedly published online, right before our eyes? Only time will tell!