Volume 4, Number 33
December 9, 1999
Editor: Joseph Trainor
MARS POLAR LANDER
:Like its sister spacecraft, the Mars
Climate Orbiter, the Mars Polar Lander (MPL)
vanished on Friday, December 3, 1999 while
on the final leg of its trip to Mars.
The $165 million spacecraft performed almost
flawlessly during its 11-month, 470-million-mile
voyage to Mars. It was set to land in the planet's
southern hemisphere near the South Pole. Upon
landing, two $29 million electronic probes were
to be jettisoned in order to burrow into the soil
in search of water or ice. The probes were named
Scott and Amundsen after two Antarctic explorers.
The Mars Polar Lander entered the planet's
atmosphere shortly before noon (California time).
The spacecraft sent a radio signal acknowledging
the launch of the Scott and Amundsen probes at
12:06 p.m. The MPL then began a 30-minute period
of radio silence as it descended to the surface.
"After the first contact (with MPL) failed at
12:39 p.m.PST, there was a second try around
2:04 p.m. and a third try at 8:30 p.m., but there
was no success in those efforts, either."
"'So far I feel like I've been stood up on a date,'
Mars program scientist Dave Crisp said late
FRiday. But he held out hope that his date with
Mars is not off, just late. 'If that's the case, all
"Engineers kept telling the probe to scan the
sky to look for Earth late Friday, but it couldn't
All day on Saturday, December 4, 1999, the
team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,
California, USA attempted to make radio contact
with the Mars Polar Lander and its two mini-probes.
""Going into two more tries late Saturday, officials
at the Jet Propulsion Lab have tried 13 times to
contact the three different probes without
Sunday, December 5, 1999, saw more
heartbreaking news for MPL team members.
"The failure to communicate with the spacecraft
Sunday morning was a serious blow." MPL
scientists "planned all day to try another
method of communication at 9:40 p.m. PST, and if
that failed, several more in the following days."
The Mars Polar Lander had two high-tech radio
antennae aboard. The dish-shaped medium-gain
antenna, located on the MPL's side, had to be
pointed directly at Earth to communicate with the
controllers. The tube-shaped ultra-high-frequency
(UHF) antenna on top of the probe was able to
communicate indirectly with Earth. The UHF
antenna could send a signal to the Mars Global
Surveyor, already in orbit around the planet, which
would then relay the MPL signal to Earth.
"Just after 1 a.m. on Monday, scientists listened
for a signal from the spacecraft's main antenna but
On Tuesday, December 7, the MPL team
looked for "messages from a backup (UHF) antenna
on the lander."
"If that failed, scientists were to make a final
serious attempt to establish contact. They were to
order the lander's main antenna to sweep the sky on
Wednesday and beam signals to a wide swath of the
"Two pods that rode the lander to Mars and were
supposed to probe the Martian atmosphere almost
are certainly lost. Nothing was heard from them
Monday, the deadline for them to make contact
Although no specific cause of the loss of the
Mars Polar Lander has yet been announced, some
NASA officials are speculating that the lander's
rocket thruster fuel may have frozen during its
long voyage through space.
"In particular, the panel warned that the
hydrazine fuel for the lander's retrorockets might
freeze in space, producing ignition delays, irregular
pulses and possibly leading to a topsy-turvy landing."
On Tuesday, December 7, NASA officials said
they had turned on "heaters to begin warming the
hydrazine...before the lander began its descent
"The panel" which investigated the loss of the
Mars Climate Orbiter ten weeks ago "expressed
worry that the lander's 12 thrusters had 'to act in
unison to ensure a stable descent,' and that such
a complex feat had never been tried before."
The loss of the Mars Polar Lander follows a
pattern of doomed Mars missions. MPL's sister
spacecraft, Mars Climate Orbiter, vanished while
passing behind Mars to enter orbit. Pathfiner and
its companion robot explorer, Sojourner, landed
successfully on Mars but went dead six weeks
later in 1997. The $1 billion Mars Observer
vanished while enroute to Mars in 1993. (See
the Minneaplois, Minn. Star-Tribune for December 8,
1999, "NASA plans sweeping review," page 1;
the Duluth, Minn. News-Tribune for December 4, 1999,
"Mars probe fails to make connection with scientists"
and December 8, 1999, "NASA report blasts inner
workings of two Mars projects." Also USA Today
for December 6, 1999, "Still no noise from Mars
Polar Lander, probes;" December 7, 1999, "NASA
prepares for last calls to silent spacecraft:' and
December 8, 1999, "NASA may delay Mars missions."
(Editor's Comment: Why do I get the feeling that
the Mars Polar Lander is sitting in some giant
saucer's cargo hold, right next to the Mars Climate
Orbiter and the Mars Observer. Maybe the alien
skipper plans to open a museum.)
CYLINDRICAL UFO HOVERS
A large light gray cylindrical UFO appeared
over the western end of Shanghai, the largest
city in China, and hovered there for one hour
on Thursday afternoon, December 2, 1999.
The hovering UFO was seen by about 100
people and was reported in two large newspapers,
the Shanghai Daily, and the Wenhui Daily, in
their Friday, December 3, editions.
Upon receiving a telephone call from an
eyewitness, "a reporter for Wenhui Daily hurried
to the 43rd floor of a building" and "claimed he saw
an illuminated object stationary in the sky for
ten minutes before it disappeared."
Two TV stations in Shanghai broadcast color
video footage of the UFO, described as "an object
darting through the sky with a flaming orange tail."
"A former researcher at the Shanghai
Observatory, Professor Jiang Xiaoyuan, was one of
the witnesses but he could not offer an explanation."
"The UFO hovered over the city for an hour and
a half, reports said."
Radar operators at Hongqiao International Airport
near Shanghai said they detected "nothing out of the
ordinary" on their radar sets. (See the Chinese
newspaper Wenhui Daily for December 3, 1999,
"UFO appears in the sky over Shanghai." Many
thanks to Jim Hickman of Aerial Phenomena
Research Group for forwarding the newspaper
CHINESE BIGFOOT TRACKED
AT NATURE PRESERVE
On Sunday, December 5, 1999, the China
Daily reported that a scientific team in the
Shennongjia mountains of Hubeir Province, China
had found physical evidence of a large hairy
hominid, which they called "a wild man."
"Standing eight feet tall with long red hair and
a taste for corn on the cob, (China's) Big Foot is
back and apparently running around a nature
preserve in central China."
"Chinese scientists are on the trail of the
legendary beast after a hunter reported seeing a
creature in Hubeir province in Shenongjia Nature
Reserve two months ago, the China Daily said.
The scientists found 16-inch footprints, brown
hair and chewed corncobs and concluded they
were not left by a bear." (See USA Today for
December 8, 1999, "Big Foot Returns," page 24A)
(Editor's Note: Reports of hairy "wild men" in the
Shennongjia mountains of Hubei province date back
to 2,000 B.C. More recently, Zhou Guoxing
encountered a seven-foot-tall hominid in the
preserve in 1977. See Unexplained Mysteries of
the Twentieth Century by Janet and Colin Bord,
Contemporary Books, 1982, page 207.)
SEVEN UFOs SIGHTED IN
On Monday, November 1, 1999, eyewitness
A.S. and 12 other witnesses saw seven "circular
things" in the sky over Bandon, Oregon
(population 2,215), a small town on Highway 101
85 miles (112 kilometers) west of Roseburg.
"I was in Bandon at 9 a.m., visiting the cheese
factory," A.S. reported, "And all of a sudden, I saw
a flash of gray and looked and these things were
headed for the (Pacific) ocean, which was right
next to a campsite."
"They had a weird color on the bottom, like a
little flash of blue light. They were going about
twenty miles per hour and were three miles up.
When I could not see them (anymore), I left my
car." (Email Form Report)
SILVER CYLINDRICAL UFO
SEEN IN DANDRIDGE
UFO hotspot Dandridge, Tennessee
(population 1,540) is back in the news again.
On Thursday, December 2, 1999, Patricia
G. reports, "At 12:25 p.m. this afternoon, I was
sky-watching and actually got lucky. A silver
cylinder flying north to southwest was flying
rather slowly. I'm afraid I can't tell the altitude,
but it was large."
"At first I thought it might be a jumbo jet,
so I looked through my binoculars, and to my
delight there were no wings or tail, just a smooth
silver cylinder. There was no jetstream or contrail
or whatever you call it."
On Wednesday night, December 1, Patricia's
daughter "saw a blue light that pulsated in the
northeast sky. She said it was as large as a
pencil eraser. She was driving home and lost
sight of it when she got home."
Dandridge is located 23 miles (36 kilometers)
east of Knoxville. (Email Interview)
GREECE DEPORTS TWO
"Two suspected members of a U.S. doomsday
cult were deported to New York on Tuesday,"
December 7, 1999, "the second group expelled
from Greece ahead of the millenium."
"Police said the two suspected cult members
of the Denver-based group Concerned Christians
and two children were taken into custody Monday
(December 6, 1999) near the seaside town of
Rafina, 15 miles (25 kilometers) east of Athens.
Eighteen others were expelled Sunday (December 5,
1999) amid fears that the group was planning to
mark 2000 with mass suicide."
"Those deported were U.S. citizens with
expired resident permits, police said."
"Police have been looking for other suspected
cult members near Athens, where the group is
thought to have settled after 14 alleged members
were deported from Israel in January." (See UFO
Roundup volume 4, number 2--J.T.)
"The group's leader, Monte Kim Miller, has
said he would die in Jerusalem this month and
be resurrected three days later." (See the
Minneapolis, Minn. Star-Tribune for December 8,
1999, "Greece deports two suspected soomsday
cult members to N.Y.," page A10.)
Although the professed born-again Christians
of Miller's sect have committed no crimes, they
have been hunted and hounded by the Shin Bet,
Israel's security police. In October, "twenty-one
evangelical Christians, including at least 13
Americans, were arrested in Jerusalem early
Monday and ordered to leave Israel by Thursday."
(See USA Today for October 26, 1999, "Israel
orders religious groups out.")
(Editor's Comment: So much for religious freedom
in the NATO countries. Yeah, you can tell these
born-agains are a bunch of "terrorists." They're
always walking around with a KJV. That's a
Bible, by the way, not a firearm.)
Y2K: IT'S BEGINNING TO
LOOK A LOT LIKE D-DAY
December 28 is shaping up as a key day in
the Y2K computer crisis. Several sources now
cite this date as the launch point of the USA
government's response to Y2K problems.
According to WorldNet Daily, "President
Clinton has already made plans to declare a
national emergency because of expected
disruptions caused by the Y2K computer problem,
according to Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA) documents.
"A final training session followed by a mock
Y2K disaster exercise will include the actual
disruptions and problems that Y2K emergency
planners believe will take place during the
change to the New Year."
"Plans for the emergency" response "were
made known to the FEMA officials and all federal
employees in preparation for use by the Information
Coordinating Center, run by the President's
Council on the Year 2000 Technology Problem."
"The staff on hand at the Information
Coordinating Center have been told to expect a
presidential declaration of a national emergency.
FEMA staff who will run the actual operation
centers have been told the same thing."
"Should it become necessary, a presidential
'emergency' rather than a 'major disaster,' will be
declared, and assistance will be focused on
determining threats to life, health, safety and
property, the Senate committee was told in a
report from Lacy E. Suiter from the Response
and Recovery Directorate of FEMA."
"A national emergency will be declared
because FEMA officials have concluded that
there will be more than 50 simultaneous Y2K-
related disruptions throughout the country,
which will stretch the nation's local, state
and national emergency resources to the limit."
"The (USA) Department of Defense is so
concerned that Deputy Secretary of Defense
John J. Hamre has issued a memorandum to
commanders in the field to be very cautious
about using the military to assist civilian
agencies. Hamre said local requests for help
might seem appropriate, but he urged local
commanders to be cautious about using the
military to help with Y2K disruptions."
"'Immediate responses that appear rational
from a local perspective, but could collectively
undermine the Department's ability to execute
operational missions, should be ruled out,'
"Hamre has ordered commanders to avoid
using the military for Y2K problems unless there
is a threat to life or damage to property."
"A presidential 'emergency' rather than a
'major disaster' declaration will be made if Y2K"
disruptions exceed state and local resources
available to deal with them, FEMA and other
federal employees were told at the training
sessions. (See WorldNet Daily for December 2,
1999, "Clinton set to declare national emergency.")
On Wednesday, December 1, 1999, Edwards
Air Force Base, 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of
Los Angeles, suddenly terminated telephone and
email communication with the outside world.
The sudden security buildup triggered much
speculation in the UFO community.
According to Rev. Billy Dee of UFO Sky
Searchers Inernational (UFOSSI), residents in
nearby Lancaster and Palmdale, California
"saw 20 more (UH-60) Blackhawk helicopters
brought in, along with many Marines. The Marines
already have several large twin and single rotor
helicopters, and I've seen them every night this
week, flying in groups of three over Lancaster
On Friday, December 3, 1999, a large truck
convoy arrived at the base, Rev. Dee reported,
which included "23 semis with stainless steel
tank trailers, like fuel trucks, just plain stainless
steel with no markings, 40 cement trucks, 13
flatbed semis carrying pallets of plywood, and
four flatbed semis carrying nothing but Porta-
(Editor's Comment: No, I don't think the Porta-
Potties are for aliens. Sounds like another
big MOUT exercise to me.)
In addition, an airman with the New York
state Air National Guard confirmed that
December 28 would be the date of some sort
of gocernment response to the Y2K crisis.
The airman, John B., told UFOSSI, "I am
in the New York Air National Guard in an Active
Guard Reserve status, and we were told yesterday
(December 5, 1999) that we, as a unit in (USAF)
Security Forces, are going to be on call from the
28th of December to the 7th of January for Y2K.
Not that we are going to be deployed but just on
standby." (Many thanks to Rev. Billy Dee for
(Editor's Comment: So it looks like the USA has
joined Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand
and Israel in putting troops on alert for possible
Y2K trouble during the last week of December.
Will Operation Abacus be launched? Stay tuned.)
from the UFO Files...
1864: ROSWELL IN UPSTATE
In 1920, horror and fantasy writer Howard Phillips
Lovecraft (1890-1937) wrote to fellow members of the
Gallomo literary club, talking about a strange dream
he had recently experienced.
"I have lately had another odd dream--specially
singular because in it I possessed another personality--
a personality just as definite and vivid as the
Lovecraft personality which characterises my waking
"My name was Dr. Eben Spencer, and I was
dressing before a mirror in my own room, in the
house where I was born, in a small village (Dolgeville,
N.Y., formerly called Brockett's Bridge--J.T.) of
northern New York state. It was the first time I had
donned civilian clothes in three years, for I was an
Army surgeon with the rank of 1st Lieut.."
"I seemed to be home on a furlough--slightly
wounded. On the wall was a calendar reading
FRIDAY, July 8, 1864 (Actually, July 8 that year
was a Saturday--J.T.) I was very glad to be in
regular attire again, though my suit was not a new
one, but one left over from 1861."
"After carefully tying my stock (tie), I donned
my coat and hat, took a cane from a rack downstairs
and sallied forth upon the village street. Soon a very
young man of my acquaintance came up to me with
an air of anxiety and began to speak in guarded
accents. He wished me to go with him to his
brother--my professional colleague Dr. Chester--
whose actions were greatly alarming him."
"I, having been his best friend, might have some
influence in getting him to speak freely--for surely he
had much to tell. The doctor for the past two years
had been conducting secret experiments in a
laboratory in the attic of his home, and beyond that
locked door he would admit no one but himself.
Sickening odours were often detected near the
door...and odd sounds were at times not absent."
"The doctor was aging rapidly; lines of care--
and of something else--were creeping into his dark,
thin face, and his hair was rapidly going grey. He
would remain in that locked room for dangerously
long intervals without food and seemed uncommonly
saturnine. All questions from the younger brother
were met with scorn or rage--with perhaps a little
uneasiness, so the brother was much worried, and
stopped me on the street for advice and aid."
"I went with him to the Chester house--a white
structure of two stories and attic in a pretty yard
with a picket fence. It was in a quiet side street,
where peace seemed to abide despite the trying
nature of the times. In the darkened parlour,
where I waited for some time, was a marble-topped
table, much haircloth furniture and several pleasing
whatnots covered with pebbles, curios and bric-a-
brac. Soon Dr. Chester came down--and he had
aged. He greeted me with a saturnine smile, and
I began to question him, as tactfully as I could,
about his strange actions."
"At first he was rather defiant and insulting--
he said with a sort of leer, 'Better not ask, Spencer!
Better not ask!'"
"Then when I grew persistent (for by this time I
was interested on my own account--HPL) he changed
abruptly and snapped out, 'Well, if you must know,
"Up two flights of stairs we plodded, and stood
before the locked door. Dr. Chester opened it,
and there was an odour. I entered after him, young
Chester bringing up the rear. The room was low
but spacious in area and had been divided into two
parts by an oddly incongruous plush red portiere.
In the half next (to) the door there was a dissecting
table, many bookcases, and several imposing
cabinets of chemical and surgical instruments.
Young Chester and I remained here, whilst the
doctor went behind the curtain."
"Soon he emerged, bearing on a large glass
slab what appeared to be a human arm, neatly
severed just below the elbow. It was damp,
gelatinous and bluish-white, and the fingers
were without nails. (my emphasis--J.T.)"
"'Well, Spencer,' said Dr. Chester sneeringly,
'I suppose you've had a good deal of amputation
practice in the army. What do you think,
professionally, of this job?'"
"I had seen clearly that this was not a human
arm, and said sarcastically, 'You are a better
sculptor than doctor, Chester. This is not the
arm of any living thing.'"
"And Chester replied in a tone that made me
blood congeal, 'Not yet, Spencer. Not yet!'"
"Then he disappeared again behind the portiere
and emerged once more, bringing another and
slightly larger arm. Both were left arms. (my
"I felt sure that I was on the brink of a great
revelation, and awaited with impatience the
tantalisingly deliberate motions of my sinister
"'This is only the beginning, Spencer,' he said
as he went behind the curtain for the third time.
'Watch the curtain.'"
"And now ends the fictionally available part of
my dream, for the residue is grotesque anticlimax.
I have said that I was in civilian clothes for the
first time since '61 (i.e. 1861--J.T.)--and naturally
I was rather self-conscious. As I waited for the
final revelation, I caught sight of my reflection in
the glass door of an instrument case and
discovered that my very-carefully-tied stock was
awry. Moving to a long mirror, I sought to adjust it,
but the black bow proved hard to fashion artistically.
And the whole scene began to fade--and damn the
luck! I awaked in the distressful year of 1920,
with the personality of H.P. Lovecraft restored.
I have never seen Dr. Chester, or his young brother,
or that village since. I do not know what village
it was. I never heard the name of Eben Spencer
before or since. Some dream!"
The strange thing is, Lovecraft's "dream" has
roots in reality. There really was a Lieutenant
Spencer. He was 1st Lieutenant E. Gary Spencer
of the 94th New York Regiment, U.S. Army,
and he was born in 1839 in the small town of
Brockett's Bridge, N.Y., in the foothills of
the Adirondack Mountains. I've seen the house
where he was born. It's still standing! (See
Selected Letters of H.P. Lovecraft, volume 1,
Arkham House, Sauk City, Wisconsin, 1965,
pages 100 to 102.)
Next Week: In Search of Doc Chester's
Unless Y2K comes early, we'll be back in
seven days with more UFO and paranormal news
from around the planet--and some pretty strange
documentation from upstate New York--all brought
to you by "the paper that goes home--UFO Roundup.
See you then!
UFO ROUNDUP: Copyright 1999 by Masinaigan
Productions, all rights reserved. Readers may post
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