NO WORD FROM BRITISH MARS PROBE
"The fate of Britain's first unmanned mission to Mars was in doubt on Thursday," December 25, 2003, "as the appointed hour for the Beagle 2 Martian lander to signal from the planet's surface passed with a disappointing silence from space."
"The tiny lander, a saucer only 25 inches (62 centimeters) across was due to open up like a pocket watch on the Martian surface and issue nine notes to a passing American Mars Odyssey spacecraft for relay back to Earth."
"Despite the initial radio silence, the science team directing the Mars landing project in partnership with the European Space Agency and its orbital Mars Express mission" began "preparing for a second attempt to contact" the lander.
However, "two more attempts to confirm the survival of the European Mars lander were unsuccessful on Friday," December 26, 2003.
"'There is no signal from Beagle 2 detected by Mars Odyssey passing over this evening,' Peter Barrett, spokesman for the U.S. government's physics and astronomy research agency said. Four attempts at hearing a signal have failed."
"A powerful radio telescope at the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, England did not detect Beagle's call sign on Friday, after an attempt late Thursday also came up empty. NASA's Mars Odyssey, which has been in orbit since 2001, picked up nothing Thursday and Friday."
"'I'm afraid it's a bit disappointing, but it's not the end of the world,' Colin Pillinger, the chief scientist who conceived the Beagle 2 mission. 'Please don't go away from here believing that we've lost the spacecraft.'"
"The 100-pound Beagle 2 lander, about the size of an open umbrella, was designed and built on a shoestring budget by a team of Mars enthusiasts from Britain's major universities, working without formal organization or national financing. Their initiative and pluck have captivated a large following."
"Britain's news media--mainstream and tabloid--have covered the Mars mission as if it were a galactic soccer (football in UK--J.T.) match."
"Scientists remained hopeful that the lander had survived impact on the surface and would be available to complete its mission--six months worth of digging and sniffing Martian rocks and soil for signs of life and the biochemical environment that could have supported it."
"The lander is equipped with a five-watt transmitter, which is enough for broadcasting to the Mars Express" orbiting overhead. The orbiter fired retro rockets early Thursday and successfully entered Mars orbit, scientists said."
Beagle 2 separated from the Mars Express "early
Friday," December 19, 2003.
Beagle 2 was supposed to land on the red sand deserts of the Isidis Planitia (plain). The lander's "key test involves looking for signs of methane and carbon dioxide-- considered key signifiers of life--released by samples heated within the lander in the presence of oxygen."
(Editor's Note: Isidis Planitia is just north of the Martian equator, at latitude 10 degrees North and longitude 270 degrees West.)
"Mars has been notoriously tough on spacecraft. Of 34 unmanned American, Soviet and Russian missions to Mars since 1960, two thirds have ended in failure."
"Only three probes have landed on Mars; the (two) Viking missions in the 1970s and Pathfinder-Sojourner in 1997."
"Beagle 2 entered the Martian atmosphere at 2:47 a.m. Greenwich time on Thursday, December 25, 2003, Christmas Day. Mission scientists remained optimistic about the European Space Agency's first search for signs of life on Mars. They said they will continue seeking a signal into January (2004)." (See the Duluth, Minn. News-Tribune for December 26, 2003, "Britain's Beagle 2 Mars probe fails to emit expected signal," page 4A; the Minneapolis, Minn. Star-Tribune for December 27, 2003, "Two more attempts detect nothing from Mars lander," page A5 and USA Today for December 22, 2003, "Beagle 2 separates from Mars Express," page 5D; and for December 26, 2003, "Mars landing may have failed," page 1A.)
(Editor's Comment: And so, another Mars mission ends in disaster. What do you think, readers? Was Beagle 2 shot down on entry by the Red Baron of Mars? Or was it captured by the Tharks like Pathfinder and Sojourner?)
UFO SEEN NEAR MOREE, NEW SOUTH WALES
On Wednesday, December 24, 2003, at 5:19 a.m., Yvette Doumbos and her husband "were travelling along the Newell Highway" 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of Moree, New South Wales, Australia "when I saw some bright lights falling from the sky," she reported, "My initial reaction was that a plane was crashing to earth. My husband and I were both yelling, 'What on earth is that!?'"
"Once the lights reached ground level, they slowly rose up again (maybe 20 feet off the ground--Y.D.) They seemed to hover in and out of trees, so we knew it wasn't a plane. It seemed to descend up and down in the sky at great speeds and then vanish and re-appear somewhere else in the sky."
The UFO "had three round white lights and blue flashing ones surrounding the white ones. I kept yelling at my husband to stop the car as it was moving so quickly that I wanted to get a better look. My husband refused to stop, saying, 'No way...I don't want to be kidnapped by aliens!'"
"I noticed a few other cars had stopped alongside the road to get a better look at the 'thing.' I would love to know if you have any other reportings of this as I was very skeptical of UFOs but know that what I saw this morning was very, very weird."
Moree, N.S.W. is about 300 kilometers (180 miles) north-northwest of Sydney. (Email Form Report)
COUPLE SEES A LUMINOUS UFO IN NEW ZEALAND
On Thursday, December 25, 2003, at 12:45 a.m., Mrs. I.W. and her husband "were outside on our patio, having coffee," in Dunedin, a city in the Otago region of New Zealand's South Island. She reported, "It was a clear night and the stars were clear and bright also. I spotted what I thought was a satellite at low orbit and told my husband to look for it, and he saw it."
"As it glided closer, we saw it was even lower than a satellite's usual height (altitude--J.T.) but higher than aircraft fly. I then decided that what we were viewing was the International Space Station. I had seen the ISS before and it was lower than satellites."
"The colour of the object was very bright, white with a slightly gold tinge and 'large,' at least as large as Mars was at its brightest this summer (July 2003) and definitely larger than satellites."
"We watched it coming on, and my husband reached inside to turn the light off to eliminate any light source from within the house. Then, while we were both looking up at it above our large trees, and we were preparing to walk up our pathway to watch it go over the Dunedin city area, it almost stopped! Like 'stopped gliding' and was almost stationary. Then, at a speed that was hard to believe, it accelerated upwards, going very fast and almost vertically upwards, visually from a large bright object to a pin prick light at such a speed that we watched it disappear between a star formation, and it was gone."
"This was not the ISS we were viewing."
"What stunned us most was the speed it went upwards at--totally unbelievable. I could not comprehend that any object could move that fast, as did my husband. We were both left speechless at what we had viewed. Stunned was not the word to describe what we felt, and we both agreed that had each of us seen it on our own, we would not believe what we had witnessed. Have no idea what it was, but we saw something that we both will never forget. I also would like to add that neither of us had been drinking."
Dunedin is on the South Island's Pacific coastline, about 300 kilometers (180 miles) southwest of Christchurch. (Email Form Report)
(Editor's Note: Dunedin was also the site of an "airship" or UFO flap during June and July of 1909.)
FOUR YELLOW UFOs ARE SPOTTED NEAR PHOENIX
On Thursday, November 13, 2003, Rick Barker reported, "I was traveling west on Bell, at the intersection of Bell and Litchfield Road" in Phoenix, Arizona "at around 7 p.m. I live in Surprise, Arizona (population 30,848), just north of Luke Air Force Base and I usually watch the sky for the occasional fighter jet flying a night-training mission."
"At this time, I spotted two round yellow stationary objects south of the base that appeared to be approximately 3 to 5 miles (5 to 8 kilometers) distant. They were similar in appearance to the freeway lights, so I did not pay too much attention to them until I noticed that they were much higher in the sky than the street lights."
"By the time I arrived home, I noticed that they had disappeared, and so I stood outside my house for a minute or two to try to see if I could identify what they might have been. At that moment, they reappeared. The unusual thing about the objects was the fact that they did not just 'turn on,' so to speak, but just seemed to expand from the darkness one at a time."
"I immediately went into the house and grabbed my binoculars and my wife to verify what I was seeing. My wife observed the objects as well but did not believe that they were something unusual until they slowly imploded on themselves again in our full view. We waited another minute or two, and they reappeared in the same manner. It was unbelievable."
"By this time, I was able to see them through the binoculars" and "they appeared to have a black line through their center which was not totally horizontal but tilted on a slight angle. The object also appeared to have swirling masses of light of every color, each color appearing simultaneously."
"At this time, I asked my wife to get our neighbor, who is a local schoolteacher and who came out to observe the strange phenomenon and verified it, as well. We immediately jumped in my car and headed south in the direction of the two objects on (Arizona) Highway 303."
"While (they were) watching, the objects disappeared and reappeared several more times, and there seemed to be a correlation between them and the commercial jet traffic passing over them, which was moving east in the direction of Sky Harbor Airport."
"We finally stopped and parked along McDowell Road, south of the air force base, to watch the objects, which we now noticed were south of Interstate (Highway) I-10, which intersects Highway 303, traveling east and west to California. Along the way, we noticed several vehicles pulling off the highway, which we assumed were also watching the objects. At this distance, they were so obvious that we could not imagine anyone who couldn't notice them if they were looking south!"
"The objects were quite large and bright yellow in color. After watching for another 20 minutes or so, we noticed two more identical objects appear west of the first two, one above the other. Within five minutes of the appearance of these objects, we witnessed the take-off of eight F-16 fighter jets, heading south with afterburners blasting, over our heads. It was absolutely unbelievable. Four jets broke to the east of the objects, and the other four to the west of them."
"All four objects immediately disappeared when the jets approached to within a mile or two of them. You could clearly see the jets turning and crossing paths with each other by their flashing navigation lights. They circled for a couple of minutes and then disappeared somewhere south of the mountain range."
"When the jets left the area, the original two objects reappeared."
"At this time, our neighbor began to get a little nervous and said we should simply start heading home, which we did. We continued to watch along the way and kept them in view the entire trip back home. When we arrived home at 9 p.m.," the trio "noticed that the objects had vanished and did not return. We did note that they were slowly drifting west towards the Palo Verde nuclear plant. Of course, as seems to always happen in these events, none of us had thought to bring a camera, so we have no photographic proof of our sighting."
"I"ve been reading your (UFO Roundup) sighting reports for several weeks now, hoping to confirm the event, and I was shocked to find the recent report of the sighting of a creature of some kind in a child's bedroom at around the time of our sighting."
"I also noticed the recent reports of the mystery van in the Phoenix area, so we're all wondering what's going on around here." (Email Form Report)
(Editor's Note: For more on the Phoenix alien sighting, see UFO Roundup, volume 8, number 47 for December 10, 2003, "Blue alien terrifies girl in Phoenix," page 5.)
ORANGE UFO SIGHTED IN SOUTH FLORIDA
On Saturday, December 20, 2003, at 3 a.m., Matt P. reported, "Driving west on U.S. 41 (the Tamiami Trail-- M.P.), I turned left onto Ortiz Boulevard in North Port, Florida (population 22,797), about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Sarasota. I noticed what looked like a bright orange flame in the sky, throwing sparks of fire around. It had what appeared to be an exhaust trail that was visible because it was high in the sky, and there was a slight breeze. It originally looked like an airplane on fire, and it was barely moving."
"I stopped on Ortiz Boulevard to try to catch a better glimpse. At the exact moment I stopped, it became very dull and broke into three different, smaller circular lights. These three lights moved about, flying in no particular formation, staying very close to one another for about two minutes and then regrouped or reconstituted to form the bright light I had seen at first. Just as quickly as I had originally seen it, it became very bright and seemed to burn out, leaving nothing but three lights in the sky to gradually disappear."
The UFOs "were intense white to orange. At first, it appeared to be triangular. But after the objects broke up, the remnants were circular. They were approximately the same height as a low-flying aircraft, like a Cessna. Didn't appear to be moving at first, but after the object broke up, the remnants moved at fairly high speeds around each other in the same part of the sky." (Email Form Report)
SMALL UFO SIGHTED NEAR GRANTSBURG, WISCONSIN
"'It went right alongside the highway all the way from Highway 48" in Grantsburg, Wisconsin (population 1,360) "down to the Bible camp. Then it crossed over the highway in front of us and lowered down toward the field and hovered there about 50 to 100 feet (15 to 30 meters) above the ground.'"
"Ted Wistrom is crystal clear about what he and Heather Berrard saw as they were traveling south on Highway 87 from Grantsburg at about 5 p.m. last Wednesday (December 17, 2003). They vow the aircraft, no more than 20 feet (6 meters) wide or long, was moving down the west side of the road at about 30 miles per hour (50 kilometers per hour--J.T.)."
"The craft was not nearly large enough to carry people, says Wistrom, but he also says it was dark, so exact size was hard to tell."
(Editor's Note: True enough! At this time of year--the winter solstice--it's pitch dark in northern Wisconsin by 5 p.m.)
"Checks with officials in law enforcement and the (Wisconsin) Department of Natural Resources (DNR) uncovered nothing to explain what the couple saw."
"Wistrom says he knows they weren't the only ones to see it. He says the car in front of them slowed down, too, as did the others behind them. Wistrom said he had planned to turn east on (County) Highway O, but continued south on 87 to continue watching the aircraft."
"It made no sound."
"He says it wasn't very high in the air. He could see what looked like propulsion units, sort of like tubes, protruding out of the bottom of the craft that were 'tilted towards the ground, like that's what was holding it up.' It made no sound, he says."
"There were four rectangular lights on what appeared to be the back of the craft, he said. They spanned the entire area, with the lights immediately adjacent to each other, with each one being maybe two to two-and-a-half feet high (0.6 to 0.8 meters high--J.T.)."
"While the craft was moving, the lights were all orange. When it began to hover over a field near the Bible camp, he said the center left light turned blue and the center right one turned white. The white light began to blink as it was hovering, he says, and then the craft disappeared."
"Wistrom says they can't give an overall description of the craft because they only saw the underside and rear."
"Wistrom says friends had been telling him of seeing strange air vehicles over the last couple of months and claim to have seen military-type vehicles at Crex Meadows before the snow came. He laughs off the remarks as 'just kooky stuff,' he says."
"Now, he says, he thinks 'they're doing some kind of testing around here.'"
"DNR employees at Crex Meadows say there haven't been any unusual vehicles there."
"After the strange air vehicle disappeared, Wistrom says he and Berrard headed east when a low-flying plane flew by at low level. That plane, he said, had a blue- and-white light underneath and red lights on the wingtips, but nothing like the unusual larger rectangular lights on the strange air vehicle."
Grantsburg is in northwestern Wisconsin about 70 miles (116 kilometers) south of Duluth, Minnesota. (See the Burnett County Sentinel for December 23, 2003, "UFOs testing in Burnett?" Many thanks to Jim Hickman for this newspaper article.)
MYSTERIOUS POWER OUTAGE DARKENS SAN FRANCISCO
A massive electrical power blackout "disrupted traffic, shut down two (BART) transit stations and left a third of" San Francisco, California "without electricity on one of the busiest days of the (Christmas) holiday season."
"The blackout started just before 6 p.m. Saturday," December 20, 2003, "when a fire broke out at a major Pacific Gas and Electric substation that feeds smaller neighborhood substations."
"About 120,000 customers lost power, including parts of downtown and the Mission, North Beach, Chinatown, Fillmore, Western Addition, Sunset and Richmond neighborhoods, PG&E officials said."
"It was one of the biggest blackouts in the nation (USA) since Hurricane Isabel in September left millions in the dark along the Atlantic seaboard and the record blackout" on August 14, 2003 "that cut power to 50 million from New York City to the (USA's) Midwest."
On Sunday, December 21, 2003, "about 24,000 customers remained without power in the downtown, Chinatown and Haight-Ashbury districts...but power was expected to be restored throughout the city by the evening, PG&E spokesman Jonathan Franks said."
"PG&E employees were evacuated from the substation while firefighters put out the blaze, Franks said."
"After the substation was reopened, PG&E engineers restored power Saturday night to about half of the affected customers. Those customers were plunged back into darkness, however, when officials discovered the fire had not been fully extinguished, and the substation had to be shut down again."
"The cause of the fire and the power outage was still being investigated, Franks said."
"'There's no indication that it was vandalism or sabotage. As far as the exact cause, we just don't know yet,' he said."
"The power outage forced early closures and evacuations at theaters, restaurants and shopping centers. Streetlights stopped working, causing traffic problems throughout the city."
"The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) District closed two downtown stations, but trains continued to run as usual, BART officials said."
"Emergency response officials said they did not receive an increase in reported incidents related to the blackout." (See USA Today for December 22, 2003, "Utility works to restore San Francisco power," page 3A.)
CURREY RECRUITS MORE TOURISTS FOR PELLUCIDAR
Steve Currey, the Utah-based tour organizer, has opened a Web site, providing potential tourists with information about his proposed trip through the Arctic Ocean aboard a rented nuclear icebreaker. There Currey hopes to find the entrance to an Inner World at the Earth's core.
(Editor's Note: You can check out the original story in UFO Roundup, volume 8, number 48 for December 17, 2003, "Mormons in Pellucidar!?," page 1.)
According to Currey's press release, the purpose of the proposed 2005 expedition is "to conduct some scientific observations in the Arctic that is hoped will resolve once and for all whether the Hollow Earth theory has any validity."
(Editor's Note: Between 1912 and 1944, Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote eight science fiction novels about the Inner World, which he called "Pellucidar.")
"The most plausible location for a north polar opening that leads into the interior of the Earth is located at 84 degrees North latitude and 141 degrees East longitude," the Web site stated, "Don't miss this chance to personally visit that paradise within our Earth via the North Polar Opening and meet the highly advanced, friendly people who live there. We are of the opinion that they are the legendary Lost Tribes of Israel who migrated into the North Country over 2,500 years ago and literally became lost to the knowledge of mankind."
The proposed expedition is geared primarily toward the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter- Day Saints, also called the Mormons. According to Currey's Web site, "The Great High Priest over all the land of Inner Earth is King David, and sits on the legitimate throne of David, a direct descendant of David, who was the founder of the ancient nation of Israel in Palestine, from which the Ten Lost Tribes migrated to the North Countries in about 687 B.C."
(Editor's Note: In Burroughs' novels, the hero is David Innes, "the Pride of Willimantic, Connecticut," who, with eccentric scientist Dr. Abner Perry, traveled to Pellucidar in a subterrene called The Prospector back in 1912. Curiously, this David gave himself the title of Emperor of Pellucidar.)
"The estimated round trip from the hollow earth North Countries of Inner Earth via the Polar Opening is about 20 days."
"Expedition members could take an Inner Earth monorail train to visit the Lost Garden of Eden, located under America on the highest mountain plateau of the Inner Continent. It is also the capital city of Inner Earth, according to Olaf Jansen."
Despite criticism from orthodox scientists and other Mormons, Currey continues to plan for the expedition. (See Fortean Times No. 179 for February 2004, "The Hierophant," page 17.)
(Editor's Comment: If anybody wants to see what a Princess of Pellucidar looks like, check out the tabloid Star for December 30, 2003. There's a whole passel of them on pages 12 and 13.)
From the UFO Files...
1903: STRANGE CREATURE SEEN IN IOLA, KANSAS
Tonight is New Year's Eve, the time of Auld Lang
Syne, and, readers, we have a really auld Fortean gem for
you this week. A "golden nugget" we're sure you'll enjoy,
recently unearthed by that indefatigable Fortean
researcher T. Peter Park.
Lanyon Smelter Saturday Night Twice
SCARED NIGHT MEN TO DEATH
The Thing appeared at Furnace No. 9, Works No. 1--
"A ghost appeared last Saturday night (i.e. November 14, 1903--J.T.) in furnace No. 9 at Works No. 1 of the Lanyon Zinc Company" in Iola, Kansas "and to this day nobody knows the truth about it."
"The night force was working at the furnace when the Thing appeared just about midnight. When first seen, it was standing between (furnace) No. 9 and the adjoining one. The men who saw it gave a yell and fled. The other ones ran to the place to see what was going on, and all took one look at the Thing and away they went. The first man fell down and the others fell over him."
"Afterward they screwed up their courage and returned, and it was gone."
"Little else was talked of for some time. The Thing had horns and long hair, great big eyes and an inhuman body although standing erect like a man. It was a spirit or the Devil."
"Before the excitement had subsided, one of the men went to a window on the west side of the furnace room and opened the window. Merciful heavens! There it was! The man sank in a heap. Another workman walked over and threw a chisel at the Thing's head. It did not dodge, nor run, but came forwards. When it disappeared again, it stayed away. The night metal drawers and stuffers, although through with their work at 3 o'clock (a.m.), remained until daylight before going home."
"Among the men working that night were Chris. Klemick, who was overcome (fainted--J.T.); Ed. Mundis, John Rice and Len Hartley were also on the shift. The boys have kept very quiet about the Thing, but they won't deny that it scared the livers out of them, and they have a constant fear that it may come back."
"Whether the apparition is the Evil Spirit or the Gas, or some man masquerading for the fun of it, the men neither know nor care. But they know the Thing--the inhuman, awful Thing--stood there. Ghost or Devil or man, they do not care to renew (its) acquaintance."
Iola, Kansas (population 6,302) is located at the intersection of Highways 54 and 169 in Allen County, about 75 miles (125 kilometers) south-southeast of Topeka, the state capital.
So, what was the strange creature that appeared in Iola, Kansas a century ago?
Was it a ghost, as the Iola Register claimed? Or Bigfoot, as British authors Janet and Colin Bord speculated in their 1989 book, Unsolved Mysteries of the Twentieth Century? Was it an alien from outer space? Or a visitor from another dimension?
A century later, the Iola mystery endures... (Many thanks to T. Peter Park for the original Register article. See also Unsolved Mysteries of the Twentieth Century by Janet and Colin Bord, Contemporary Books, Chicago, Ill. 1989, page 366.)
And that wraps up Volume Eight of UFO Roundup. We'll
be back next week for the start of a new volume and
another year in hot pursuit of UFO, Fortean and paranormal
news from all over the planet Earth. To say nothing of
occasional moments of comedy. After all, 2004 is a
presidential election year here in the USA. So drop in
again and be sure to read "the paper that goes home-- UFO
UFO ROUNDUP: Copyright 2003 by Masinaigan Productions, all rights reserved. Readers may post news items from UFO Roundup on their Web sites or in news groups provided that they credit the newsletter and its editor by name and list the date of issue in which the item first appeared.