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  Columnist: William B Stoecker

Image credit: NASA

Planets of the past

Posted on Friday, 9 October, 2009 | 3 comments
Columnist: William B Stoecker

We are not alone in this Solar System. Aside from possible intelligent species in other solar systems, even in other galaxies, we have company right here...and they've been here for a long, long time (but so have we). There is the evidence of ufos in our skies, beneath our seas, even (reported by our astronauts) beyond our atmosphere. Many ufos may be paranormal manifestations or bizarre life forms, but many at least appear to be machines. While an Earthly origin cannot be ruled out for them, neither can an interplanetary origin. And there are truly bizarre structures on our own Moon and on the planet Mars, some of which appear to be artificial, and a host of unexplained transient phenomena.

Considering the origin of these neighbors of ours, we are confused by the harsh conditions on our Moon and on Mars, and even worse conditions elsewhere in our Solar System. It seems unlikely that advanced life forms could have developed on Mars, with its thin, dry atmosphere and intense cold, or on our airless Moon, or on Venus, with its hellish surface conditions. The outer planets, gas giants, have no solid surfaces. Moons like Europa and several others may have liquid water and perhaps extremophile chemosynthetic bacteria, but it is hard to imagine intelligence evolving there, much less technologically advanced civilizations.

But, aside from the fact that NASA seems to have lied to us about conditions on Mars, conditions that, while harsh, are not quite as bad as we have been told, we forget that we are seeing a Solar System perhaps 4.6 billion years old in one moment of contemporary time. Just as our Earth was different in the past, with ice ages and warm, wet periods, and drifting continents, and bizarre animals like ground sloths and dinosaurs and (I would argue) lost civilizations preceding our current attempt, so, too, the other planets orbiting our Sun were quite different in the past, and will change again in the future. But, before we look into this, let us examine the evidence for present day neighbors.

Our Moon is an almost airless world with about one sixth the gravity that we have on Earth, no liquid water on the surface, and no evidence of indigenous surface life forms. We have been watching it for centuries, and men have walked on its surface and collected rock samples. The current theory of its formation postulates that a Mars-sized planet struck the early (and slightly smaller) Earth, melting the surface and incinerating any early life forms that may have been developed. A huge mass of mostly molten material, mostly less dense material from near the surface, was thrown out into orbit around our world, where it cooled and coalesced into our present Moon. Asteroids and comets then bombarded the Moon (and our Earth as well) cratering it and forming the maria and the mascons (probably nickel-iron asteroid remnants). With its low gravity, the Moon could not hold on to any meaningful atmosphere or surface water, and what little vulcanism the early Moon may have had is now pretty much over, as this small world has cooled off a great deal. Case closed.

Well, not quite. Strange things have long been seen happening on the moon (transient Lunar phenomena) and strange, seemingly artificial structures as well. Many of these may have natural explanations. For example, clouds or mists have been seen in the crater Copernicus and the crater Godemius. Changes were noted in the crater Linne in 1866, and on 11/2/58 the Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kozyrev saw a half hour long eruption from the central peak of the crater Alphonsus, and detected carbon in the emissions. Color changes have been seen in the crater Aristarchus, and a strange glow, seen even by Apollo astronauts as well as Earth-based astronomers. All of this may be explained by residual vulcanism or outgassing from the Lunar interior, and by the effects of the solar wind on these gases, or electrostatic activity in Lunar dust raised by the outgassing. Recently, astronomers have claimed to have discovered large amounts of water inside the topsoil of the Moon, and they theorize that it was formed by the reaction of hydrogen ions in the solar wind with oxygen containing compounds in the soil. However, this seems to contradict the findings of the Apollo astronauts that the Moon is utterly dry. But if the water is present, it might explain the mists or clouds. There is the mystery of the sinuous rilles on the Moon; save for the lack of tributaries, they might have been carved out by water. Astronomers claim that they are collapsed lava tubes, but there are problems with this. Lava tubes tend to be on the surface; the rills are canyons cut or eroded somehow below the surface. Many go uphill and down (neither water nor lava can flow uphill), like Schroeder's Valley, which is 160 kilometers long and up to 1300 meters deep and ten kilometers wide. Lava could not flow anywhere near 160 kilometers before cooling and solidifying, and, even in the lower Lunar gravity, a tube would collapse under its own weight even if far narrower than ten kilometers. The rills do not look in any way artificial, but they are evidence of natural forces we do not even begin to understand. Some have even theorized that they were gouged out by interplanetary lightning.

And other Lunar structures and phenomena certainly do appear to be artificial. Astronomers in the nineteen fifties saw an immense bridge. The Apollo 11 astronauts (and this happened on more than one Apollo mission) were followed by a ufo, and a similar one was filmed by another Apollo crew. NASA film footage shows what appears to be a ufo flying near the Moon, and flying objects miles in diameter have been reported by amateur astronomers, who saw them against the Lunar surface. The Blair Cuspids are strangely tall and angular formations; they may be natural, but they are difficult to explain, and, near them, there is an oddly rectangular trench.There is a tall tower on the rim of the farside crater Lobachevsky, virtually impossible to explain as a natural formation, and, in Copernicus, Petravius B crater, and King crater there are complex grid patterns and rectangular structures that no conventional theory can explain away. There is a Lunar structure called the Shard that is a narrow tower over a mile high, and there is simply no combination of natural forces of any kind that could cause that. Equally strange is an even larger formation called the Castle, that appears to be suspended somehow above the Lunar surface. Both of these structures appear to be shiny and transparent or translucent. Richard Hoagland and Mike Bara believe that these two structures may actually be made of glass; Hoagland says that glass formed in an absolutely dry environment is much stronger and less brittle than any glass that can be mass produced here on Earth. Hoagland and Bara believe that NASA photos show evidence of the remnants of immense glass domes covering a significant portion of the Lunar surface. This is a pretty extreme theory, and glass structures would seem to be a bad idea on the Moon, which has two weeks of daylight alternating with two weeks of night. Glass domes and other structures would lead to extreme thermal buildup by day, and rapid and extreme loss of heat at night. Still, the Shard and the Castle do appear glassy, and Hoagland and Bara have noted real anomalies in NASA photos, including a distorted Earth rising just above the Lunar horizon, which, on our airless Moon, could be an indication of irregular refraction due to large transparent structures. Whether the more extreme portions of Hoagland and Bara's theory are correct or not, it does appear that someone is on the Moon.

And Mars is stranger still. It is crowded with anomalies. The Italian astronomer Schiaparelli discovered what appeared to be channels on its surface, called "canali" in Italian. These now appear to have been an illusion; perhaps in moments of good viewing and when the Sun angles on Mars were just right, Earth based astronomers glimpsed the three great Martian shield volcanoes in a great arc on the surface and connected the dots. Or they may have glimpsed the Valles Marineris chasm, or some of the larger impact craters. But other astronomers saw strangely shaped clouds on Mars, and, in 1900, the Lowell Observatory reported a "shaft of light" protruding from Mars for seventy minutes. Of course, a shaft of light would by invisible in the vacuum of space above the Martian atmosphere, but what was it? Mars' two moons were described with a fair amount of accuracy by Jonathan Swift in "Gulliver's Travels," discovered (in his book) by the astronomers of the flying island of Laputa, an immense, disc shaped city suspended above the Earth by magnetism. Of course Swift's book was a satire, and the magnetic propulsion as he described it would not work, but note all the ufological elements: a disc shaped flying craft, magnetism, and knowledge of the Martian moons, all in a book published in 1727; the moons were not really discovered until 1877, by astronomer Asaph Hall.

I have written elsewhere of the evidence that NASA has lied to us about the density of the Martian atmosphere, which they claim is less than one percent of the density of our own atmosphere. Mars, averaging about 1.5 AU distance from the Sun (an AU is the average 93 million mile distance of the Earth from the Sun) is undoubtedly a very cold place. With only .376 Earth gravity and little vulcanism any more, its atmosphere is certainly thin, and almost certainly has little oxygen, rendering it unbreathable for humans and other animals. There seems to be a good deal of water left on Mars, but most of it is ice and permafrost. Still, there are a few clouds, and NASA photopgraphs show what are clearly fairly sizeable temporary lakes of meltwater (which could not even exist in liquid form if the atmosphere is as thin as NASA claims). Seasonal color changes which astronomers used to believe might be vegetation were dismissed by NASA as being somehow caused by dust storms; aside from the inherent lameness of this "explanation," a definite green color can be seen in NASA's own pictures.

Then there are the "trees," dark, branching structures over a hundred yards across; NASA has tried various explanations, suggesting, for example, that they may be star dunes. If so, why are they so much darker than the soil around them? To most open minded observers, they look like plants of some kind. Mars landers have photographed at least one spiral structure that looks exactly like some kind of mollusc shell; we are still waiting for that one to be explained away. One orbiter picture shows what looks like a herd of huge animals travelling across the surface, but there may be some other explanation.

Mars' moon Phobos has several tower-like structures that may be natural, and is scored by immense, roughly parallel grooves that are unexplained but also possibly natural. But the Soviet Phobos One spacecraft was lost en route to Mars, and Phobos Two photographed a huge shadow, shaped like a pointed ellipse, before going silent. This is beyond strange, and Soviet cosmonaut Colonel Marina Popovich made public photos of what she claimed was a 20 kilometer long, 1.5 kilometer diameter "mothership" that, she said, apparently destroyed Phobos Two. Phobos Two also took infrared pictures of rectilineal underground structures, apparently just below the surface. As we shall see, this is not the only source for such pictures.

Then there is the Face, and Cydonia. As I have written elsewhere, whether the Face is natural or artificial, it draws attention to a very small area fairly crowded with structures, like a five-sided pyramid, that look artificial, and are very different from one another. It is almost impossible to imagine any combination of natural forces that would, in one place, create such variety, and, at the same time, an illusion of artificiality. NASA has released closer pictures of the Face, which, at first glance, appear to prove it to be nothing more than a great, eroded mesa a mile long and 1500 feet high, but even this picture shows parallel straight lines and right angles, rare on this scale in nature, and critics of NASA point out that the picture was taken when the shadow angles would reveal little detail. Researchers Erol Torun and Richard Hoagland believe that there are complex geometric alignments in Cydonia which cannot be natural. And an infrared NASA orbiter picture of Cydonia shows, around the surface structures and apparently underground at a very shallow depth, a huge grid pattern like a city, with tubes like subways. There are also geometric structures in the southeast area of the West Candor Chasma. I have seen a NASA picture of geometric structures, looking exactly like buildings, in the Martian Antarctic, with what appears to be steam coming out of one of them. This, along with the infrared emitted from the shallow underground structures mentioned previously, is evidence that someone is still living there.

And there are the precise, circular entrances to Martian caves, leading straight down with narrow, lighted rims at the surface, like an artificial roof, and the objects looking like machine parts photographed by a lander.

And then there are the tubes. Pictures are available as of this writing on the site, showing translucent structures (like on the Moon), some 20 to 40 meters in diameter, partly underground and partly in ravines between tunnel entrances. They have fairly regular rib structures, and apparently run for many, many miles, mostly beneath the surface. The reflection of the Sun is visible on at least one. Of all the structures on Mars, these are the ones most obviously and certainly artificial; every NASA attempt to debunk them falls flat. They are either some unimaginably large and strange life form, or they were built by animals rather like bees build nests on Earth, or they were made by an intelligent species. One picture on the ebtx site shows truly enormous dark shapes on and around one of the tubes, looking for all the world like some sort of huge, almost shapeless creatures emerging from the tubes. I confess, I find it hard to imagine animals at all with so little oxygen, and next to impossible to imagine numbers of creatures so huge in what has to be, at best, a very sparse ecosystem. But the tubes, more than anything else, look artificial; the entire pattern of evidence virtually proves that someone is on Mars.

Remember, in the remote past Mars undoubtedly had a much thicker atmosphere, probably an ocean in the northern hemisphere, and, at times, was warmer. Today, if the atmosphere at the mean surface level is comparable to Earth's atop Mount Everest, the density in the deepest canyons (some four miles) would be about like Earth's at 25,000 feet elevation. In the past, these densities were at times much higher. Lacking our large Moon, Mars suffers from extreme axial wobbles, causing ice ages and warmer epochs; if it were to warm up a bit, the carbon dioxide in the polar cap experiencing winter at the time would vaporize, causing a heat trap effect and making Mars warmer still, and such warm periods may have occurred recently (geologically speaking) and may occur again. So Mars can certainly have indigenous life and possibly an indigenous intelligent species. Or people from some other world may have colonized Mars, even, as I suggested in my book, people from Earth in our remote past.

Between Mars and Jupiter, where it looks as if a planet belongs, there is no large planet, but rather an asteroid belt; the largest objects are far less than a thousand miles in diameter. Some have speculated that a planet once orbited there, and, for some reason, exploded. Conventional astronomers point out that the total mass of all the known objects is only a tiny fraction of the mass of an Earth-sized planet. However, much of the mass of an exploded planet may have been ejected from the Solar System, or crashed into the Sun, or crashed into the other planets, or be in the form of objects too small to detect. A more serious objection is the fact that no one knows of anything that could make a planet explode, other than perhaps a collision with a massive object moving at a higher velocity than anything in the Solar System; it would have to be an asteroid from interstellar space, and, even then, we don't know what could accelerate it to the required velocity. If there had been a planet there, it would be very, very cold, even colder than Mars, and with less sunlight to power photosynthesis in plants. Such a world seems unlikely to have existed, and, if it did exist, unlikely to have been the abode of intelligent life forms.

But there is one other planet that may have been habitable at one time. Venus is almost the size and mass of Earth, but orbits closer to the Sun at .72 AU. Its axial rotation is retrograde, and its day is 243 Earth days long. Somehow, Earth and Venus are locked together so that an inferior conjunction occurs every 216 degrees around the Sun, and Venus always presents the same face to Earth during the conjunction. Venus' surface, judging by the lack of large impact craters, is very young (geologically speaking), under a billion years, perhaps far under that age. And its atmosphere, almost all carbon dioxide, with clouds of sulfuric acid, is 90 times as dense as our own. This heat trap keeps Venus' surface temperatures at a blistering 740 degrees kelvin, hot enough to melt lead and far too hot for carbon and water based life. But there is one simple explanation for all of the above, including the bizarre retrograde axial rotation, and that explanation indicates that Venus...perhaps fairly recently...used to be a very different world, possibly even the abode of life, at least in its polar regions.

In the nineteen fifties a Russian medical doctor, Immanuel Velikovsky, developed a truly strange theory, proposing that no planet existed in Venus' current orbit until quite recently, when a "comet" was somehow ejected from the massive planet Jupiter, and somehow moved into orbit to become Venus. I won't go into the many reasons why this theory is wrong, but certain aspects of it may be eerily close to the truth. There is one conceivable explanation for Venus' retrograde rotation: it was struck by a massive asteroid at the right angle and velocity to reverse its axial rotation. This impact would have melted the crust, accounting for the present crust being so young, and released gases to give Venus its dense atmosphere. The asteroid may even have had a near-Velikovskian connection with Jupiter if that giant planet's gravity altered its orbit and caused the collision.

So, who knows? A billion or so years ago, or even much more recently, both Mars and Venus may have been inhabited, and there may even have been a planet just beyond Mars. Our Solar System is turning out to be a pretty interesting neighborhood.

William B Stoecker

Article Copyright© William B Stoecker - reproduced with permission.

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