October 12, 1997
Editor: Joseph Trainor
On Monday, October 6, 1997, a startling photograph from the Mars Global Surveyor was posted on the Astronomy Picture of the Day website.
The photo, taken by Surveyor from an altitude of 250 miles (400 kilometers), shows a subsided rift valley ten miles (16 kilometers) long in the Vallis Nigral region of Mars. The rift valley is similar to the one in East Africa here on Earth. The rimrock on the valley's rim shows clear evidence of water erosion.
Towards the photo's center, just above a square depression in valley floor, is a line of uniform tracks extending for an estimated distance of just over two miles (3.7 kilometers).
One observer estimated that, based on the formula that one Surveyor pixel equals 30 feet (9 meters), the tracks are 415 feet (126 meters) wide. This suggests that the tracks were made by an immense vehicle, perhaps similar to the one used by the Jawas in the movie "Star Wars."
The age of the tracks is unknown. However, it appears that they are recent and appeared after the great dust storm on Mars back in the early 1970s.
The photo can be found at the following URL-- http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap971006.html
(Many thanks to Twitch and Chris for pointing out this Surveyor photo.)
On Thursday, October 9, 1997, the mainstream news media reported, "Pathfinder, which landed in July, has become mired in technical problems. Communications from its main transmitter resumed Tuesday (October 7) for 15 minutes after having been shut down since Sept. 27. Yesterday (Wednesday, October 8) controllers tried to get some new engineering data from the spacecraft but were not able to get a signal from the transmitter." (See the Providence, R.I. Journal-Bulletin for Thursday, October 9, 1997, page 4)
Pathfinder's last successful transmission was on Saturday, September 27, at 3:23 a.m. The next scheduled transmission was to take place that day at 11:15 p.m. but "no signal was received."
On Monday, September 29, at 1:30 a.m., the Jet Propulsion Lab "ordered Pathfinder to send a carrier signal to Earth on the low-gain and high-gain antennae. Neither signal was received."
On Tuesday, September 30, they tried again with the low-gain antenna. "The attempt was done at Mars noon in order to ensure maximum power on the solar arrays in order to power the S/C transmitter. No signal was received."
When they tried on Wednesday, October 1, there was no signal at first, "but at approximately 4:23 p.m. a signal was received that lasted for about 20 minutes."
On Thursday, October 2, the JPL team attempted to retrieve digital data from Pathfinder's auxiliary transmitter. "The signal turned off at approximately 11:30 (a.m.) solar time." The team ordered Pathfinder to divert some data to conserve battery power. "It is not clear whether these commands were received."
On Friday, October 3, the team again tried to pass digital data through the auxiliary transmitter. No data was received. Commands were then sent "to put Pathfinder in the safest state possible for a non- operational battery. There was no signal indicating that these commands executed on the S/C." (Many thanks to Erik Beckjord and Patrick Bailey for the day-by-day narrative.)
(Editor's Comment: The battery's insulation could have been torn loose or otherwise damaged during Pathfinder's rough landing. Martian cold may be draining the battery faster than the solar arrays can replenish it. Either that, or something is jamming JPL's radio signals to the spacecraft.)
Brazilian ufologist Vitorio Pacaccini, author of the book INCIDENTE EM VARGINHA, says he and fellow ufologists Claudeir Covo and A.J. Gevaerd have their doubts about Carlos Sousa's story of a UFO crash at Tres Coracoes on January 13, 1996.
Sousa claims that he was driving on the Fernando Dias Highway from Sao Paulo to Belo Horizonte at 8 a.m. that Saturday morning when he saw a damaged UFO fly slowly overhead. He further claims he followed the object to a farm field 8 kilometers (5 miles) north of Tres Coracoes, a city 25 kilometers (15 miles) south of Varginha, Minas Gerais, where he saw Brazilian Army troops collecting crash debris.
"I know the highway well," Pacaccini said, "Like the palm of my hand. I have been riding on the highway for over 15 years, going to southern Minas Gerais to visit my mother. She lives in Tres Coracoes."
Pacaccini pointed out that the Fernao Dias Highway is one of the most heavily traveled thoroughfares in Brazil, with constant 24-hour traffic between Sao Paulo (population 8 million) and Belo Horizonte (population 2 million). He said it's unlikely that the highway would be deserted on Saturday morning at 8 a.m.
As he followed the UFO, Pacaccini added, Carlos Sousa "passed by three big gas stations which are also bus stops" and right through the industrial district of Tres Coracoes. "Why didn't he stop and call somebody to see the UFO, too? Were all the places empty, deserted, nobody there? That's impossible!"
Pacaccini added that he personally visited the alleged crash site, "a big open pasture with only one big tree in the middle." From there, one can see three other farms, one of which belongs to a family friend of Pacaccini's, Senhor Laercio.
Pacaccini said Sousa claims to have seen "two army trucks, one army ambulance, one army helicopter, about 30 soldiers and five or six civilian cars," noting that the pasture is only 200 meters (660 feet) from the farmhouse of the owner, Senhor Maiolini.
"How come nobody heard or saw anything on Mr. Maoilini's farm, Mr. Laercio's farm or on the other two farms nearby?" he asked. "On a Saturday morning, they were all working, taking care of many farm activities such as miling the cows, feeding the cattle, cleaning the stables etc. I've been there, talking to every person on the farm. They were all working that day, and they didn't hear or see anything. Especially the helicopter, which is a noisy thing."
Pacaccini noted that "Mr. Carlos Sousa only appeared in September 1996--after we had released much information about our research to the press," and alleged that Sousa used this information "to fit himself into the (Varginha) story." (Muito obrigado a Vitorio Pacaccini por eso caso.)
Irish ufologist Rory Thornton claims that a saucer from a planet called Sunas crash-landed in a wooded area north of Boyle, near the border of County Sligo and County Roscommon, in Eire back in May 1996.
According to Thornton, a self-described ufologist and clairvoyant who operates a health clinic in Newcastle, County Galway, "the full story has been kept under wraps" by the government in Dublin.
The UFO "got into trouble and crash-landed in a woodland" just outside of Boyle, approximately 192 kilometers (120 miles) northwest of Dublin, Thornton told the newspaper Irish Sunday Mirror. "It clipped the tops off the trees as it drifted down to earth. The whole area was cordoned off by authorities, and American Jeeps (military vehicles-- J.T.) were still spotted there six months after the crash."
Thornton "alleges that the local Gardai (Irish police--J.T.) were told by Dublin government officials to 'keep their nose out of it.'"
An unidentified Garda in Boyle told the Irish Sunday Mirror that "there had been reports of a landing there last year. They checked it out but denied that any landing had taken place."
"The whole town of Boyle saw something going over in the sky," Thornton said. "It happened in a lonely place. The aliens misjudged the landing and hit the tops of the trees before splashing down in the lake. The area was blocked off for six months. Boyle was full of Americans, but they wouldn't say what they were doing there. But there were at least six American Jeeps in the area. Nobody was allowed in or out, and there was a guard at the cabin for 24 hours each day."
Thornton's story was backed up by at least one resident of Boyle. "There has been a lot of activity in the forest," said Padraich O'Hearne. "The authorities want to keep it quiet, but there has been so much activity that it is obvious that something big happened there that night. I didn't see the spacecraft, but folks around Boyle are full of talk about ET and his friends landing."
Daev Walsh, publisher of the online newsletter Blather, however, doubts that the Boyle incident was a saucer crash. He said it seems "to be more of a NATO cockup that anything 'extraterrestrial.'" (See the Irish Sunday Mirror for September 21, 1997, page 4. Many thanks to Daev Walsh for forwarding this story.)
On Sunday, September 28, and on the following Sunday, October 5, 1997, from 7 to 8 p.m., Mexican TV anchorman Jaime Maussan aired videotape of a hovering UFO on his show "Tercera Milenio" (Third Millenium).
The videotape was shot on August 6 in a residential neighborhood of Mexico City. Twenty- five seconds of video shows the clearly-detailed UFO in a cloudy, smoggy sky. The UFO is gray and metallic and has no blinking lights. However, it does have a strange rotating motion.
The scene shows the object motionless in the sky. Then it moves from left to right on the TV screen, hovers for many seconds, then zips away at a high rate of speed.
For a look at stills from the Mexican UFO video, go to this URL--http://www.ufoinfo.com/news/mexico.shtml
"Tercera Milenio" has a website at this URL-- http://www.televisa.com/3milenio/index.htm
(Muchas gracias a Fernando Camacho para esas informaciones.)
On Sunday, September 14, 1997, three flights of three UFOs each passed over Italy's neighboring island of Sardinia. The UFOs flew slowly over the island's west coast and were seen in the seaport cities of Sassari, Oristano and Cagliari at 8:30 p.m.
In Cagliaritano, a few minutes after the first flyover, people reported seeing "passing in the same direction about 15 lights of various colors and intensities." The case is being investigated by ufologist Antonio Cuccu of the Centro Italiano di Studi Ufologici (CISU).
A week later, on Sunday, September 28, 1997, at 3 p.m., ten people having dinner at the Ristorante Mezzoiuso (cafe) in Palermo, capital and seaport city on the north shore of Sicily "spotted a black rectangular object that was emitting a strong light from its stern." The UFO descended suddenly, seeming to come within a few dozen feet of the Palermo/Agrigento highway "and then zipped away at an insane velocity towards the mountain, leaving behind a luminous trail." This case is being investigated by ufologist Antonio Blanco of CISU. (Grazie a Edoardo Russo di CISU.)
On Thursday, October 9, 1997, at 12:47 p.m., an unusual meteor flashed through the sky over El Paso, Texas, creating a massive explosion that shook homes from El Paso to Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Robert Simpson, spokesman for the McDonald Observatory in Texas, said the explosion was caused "by what appeared to be a small meteor...about as bright as the surface of the setting sun."
The meteor was thought to have impacted in the West Texas "brush country" desert, south of the Hueco Mountains, about 30 miles east of El Paso.
"A police helicopter flying 25 miles east of the city spotted about an acre of scorched ground that might be the area where the meteor hit."
"A police command post was set up in the Organ Mountains as U.S. Army Reserve helicopters used infrared sensors to look for pieces of debris from the object. What they are looking for is any debris that is still hot or anything that came off the object." (Many thanks to Rebecca Schatte for forwarding this item.)
"Las Cruces (N.M.) police Sgt. Joel Cano said the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tracked the object as it entered Earth's atmosphere until it fell to the ground 30 miles east of El Paso." (See Reuters story for October 9, 1997.)
The explosion triggered "hundreds of calls" to El Paso police and other law enforcement agencies. Most witnesses saw a "dark contrail" or "black smoke" or a "lightning flash in the sky."
(Editor's Comment: NORAD tracked the "meteor" all the way down, and then the Army Reserve choppers scrambled to retrieve it. I've seen lots of meteors fall, and I have yet to see a helicopter strike team show up looking for it afterward. Does anyone else think there may be more to this El Paso case than was reported by AP and Reuters?)
On Friday, October 3, 1997, at 10:25 p.m., a girl sighted a UFO near her home in Tucson, Arizona (population 330,537). Tucson is located on Highway 10 approximately 117 miles (187 kilometers) southeast of Phoenix.
Carmen A. was outside when she "noticed these multi-colored lights flashing. I looked closely because I thought it was a plane or a star. No, it wasn't a plane or a star. I got a better look through my dad's binoculars. It was a round object with lights flashing around it. Red, green and white. It wasn't moving. I looked at it for better than 15 minutes." (USENET Item)
On October 3, 1997, at 10:23 p.m., Lee M. Droney of Fargo, North Dakota, was driving on Interstate Highway I-94 a half-mile (0.8 kilometers) west of Gackle, N.D. (population 456) when he spied a UFO.
Droney reported seeing "a meteorite-like object off to the left appeared to stop and hover...The car radio seemed to (suddenly) go out of range. There were other vehicles on the road at the time which could have seen the object." (See Filer's Files #40 for October 10, 1997)
Gackle is located on North Dakota Highway 46 approximately 126 miles (202 kilometers) southwest of Fargo. (Many thanks to George A. Filer of MUFON for this report.)
On Tuesday, September 30, 1997, at 10;35 p.m., Elizabeth Macready was sitting on her front porch in Natchez, Mississippi (population 22,015). Natchez is a famous Mississippi River town located 72 miles (119 kilometers) downriver from Vicksburg.
"While sitting on my porch--I sit every night--I saw what I thought was a large bright star," Elizabeth reported. "I realized at the same time that I had never seen it before. It either beamed brightly or moved forwards, then moved backward to the west and dropped (into the river--J.T.). I am on a hill, and the object was a little above the highest electrical wires. Sky not too clear." She described the UFO as a "white star-shaped bright light." (Email Interview)
On Wednesday, October 1, 1997, at 8 p.m., CPO Ethelred Sharkey, USN, a veteran of the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars, was working at the Navy Reserve Station in Greenwood, Indiana (population 19,327), about 12 miles (18 kilometers) south of Indianapolis.
Chief Sharkey "was looking to the southeast and a brightly-lit object 75 to 80 degrees in the sky caught his attention. The object looked like a star but (was) extremely intense and appeared to be moving upward. The 'pure white' light was so intense that he 'couldn't believe it.'"
"The object stayed in a small area as it continued moving upward before eventually appearing as nothing more than a dim star. The object was at its brightest for 15 seconds." Chief Sharkey described the object as similar to "construction night lights" on a highway which "blind you to look at them." (Many thanks to Kenneth Young of the Tri-States Advocates for Scientific Knowledge, T.A.S.K., for this report.)
On Thursday, October 2, 1997, at 2:22 a.m., an employee of Kroger Supermarket in Frankfort (population 25,973), Kentucky's capital city, spotted something unusual in the sky.
The man sighted "a light in the sky to the west of his location." (i.e. over downtown Frankfort. Kroger Supermarket is on the east side of the city-- J.T.) The UFO "moved from side to side so fast that it left a noticeable streak. The object departed by blinking and climbing straight up."
Frankfort is 23 miles (37 kilometers) northwest of Lexington, in northern Kentucky. (Many thanks to Kenneth Young of T.A.S.K. for this report.)
TRIANGULAR UFO SPOTTED IN WESTERN OKLAHOMA
On Saturday, October 4, 1997, at 7:15 p.m., Jim Hickman "observed an unusual object in the sky over Elk City, Oklahoma (population 9,579)." Elk City is located on Highway 40 approximately 109 miles (174 kilometers) west of Oklahoma City.
The UFO was also observed by Elk City police, Hickman reported, "I went outside with my 10X50 binoculars and my camera. I saw to my southwest a large bright object that appeared to be roughly triangular in shape with what I took to be a hole in the center. The object was three fingers (10 degrees) above the horizon at arm's length. The object was at least twice as bright as the moon. I took several 35mm pictures at this time."
Another UFO appeared at 7:35 p.m. above the original triangular object. "The original object did not move at all during this...Both 'triangles' went slowly west and disappeared over the horizon." (Many thanks to Steve Wilson Sr. for this report.)
Roswell wasn't the only saucer crash. Fifty years ago this week, two men reported seeing a SECOND downed saucer at Cave Creek, near Phoenix, Arizona. Here is their story:
"In early October 1947, 22-year-old Selman Graves and his 16-year-old brother-in-law Bob Malody were rabbit-hunting and exploring mines in what is now known as the Cave Creek Recreational Area north of Phoenix."
"At one point Graves and Malody climbed to the top of the most prominent hill in the area and looked south back at the ranch house of their friend Walt Salyer. They could see Salyer's house, his corral, and even his water tank. But when Graves looked west of the property he witnessed a scene that made no sense then and still haunts him five decades later."
"What he saw can best be described as 'a large aluminum dome-shaped thing sitting upright in the desert,' Graves said, 'I thought it might be some kind of observatory dome, except why should a dome be down at that elevation?'"
"Graves also remembered seeing five men and two trucks near the dome. One of the trucks was of the military (2.5-ton) type, capable of carrying personnel or equipment. 'But I didn't see any equipment like cranes or anything like that,' Graves said, 'And the men didn't seem to be doing any work. I could not identify a uniform.'"
Using Salyer's ranch for size and distance perception, Graves estimated that the dome was 36 feet (11 meters) in diameter and maybe a mile away."
"Graves never considered that he might have witnessed the crash of an extraterrestrial craft until 1952, after he read BEHIND THE FLYING SAUCERS, a book by pioneer ufologist Frank Scully (no relation to Dana--J.T.). In the book, Scully wrote about the Cave Creek incident and cited an informant who told him that two humanoid bodies about four and a half feet (1.4 meters) were retrieved, one sitting inside the craft and the other halfway out the hatch." (See the newspaper Newsday of Melville, N.Y. for July 6, 1997. Many thanks to Lou Farrish of UFO Newsclipping Service for forwarding this news story.)
That's it for this week.
Join us next Sunday for more saucer news from "the paper that goes home--UFO ROUNDUP." See you then!
UFO ROUNDUP: Copyright 1997 by Masinaigan Productions, all rights reserved. Readers may post items from UFO ROUNDUP on their websites or in newsgroups provided that they credit the newsletter and its editor by name and list the date of issue the news item first appeared.