Mars has always been a hotspot for NASA’s scientific programs to find evidence of alien life in space. Like the Red Planet, its two moonlets are also the attention-seekers. Over billions of years, meteor strikes on Mars have ejected pieces of the planet outward fast enough to fling that debris into orbit. Scientists hope that organic molecules will be possibly found on Phobos, along with chemical biosignatures, fragments of DNA, and fossilized microorganisms. In 1988, the Soviet Union launched two probes (Phobos 1 and Phobos 2) to study Mars and its moons. The mission turned into an outlandish UFO encounter when the Phobos 2 probe captured an unidentified object on the Martian surface before losing contact forever.
Soviet scientists launched Phobos 1 on July 7, 1988. Unfortunately, it lost en route two months later, reportedly because of a radio command error. While Phobos was launched five days later, it entered safely into Mars’ orbit in January 1989. Then its mission was to tandem with Martian’s rocky satellite Phobos and to explore it with highly sophisticated equipment.
Everything was according to the plan until March 28, 1989, when the Soviet mission control center stopped receiving transmissions from the probe. Later, it was published in the news that Phobos 2 had failed to communicate with Earth as scheduled after completing an operation around the Martian moon Phobos the day before.
Boris Bolitsky, a Radio Moscow science correspondent, said that shortly before the loss of radio contact with Phobos 2, many unusual images had been sent back to Earth and were said to have shown features that were remarkable. A report said that the features were either on the surface of Mars or in the lower atmosphere. They were 20 to 25 kilometers in width and did not look like any geological formation that was known. They were said to be of a spindle-type shape and were puzzling.
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On the Russian television segment, a bizarre image was shown that consisted of a thin shadow across Mars. It was noted that the casted shadow on the Martian surface was different from the shadow of Phobos recorded eighteen years earlier by Mariner 9.
The anomaly seen in the last transmitted photo by Phobos 2 was a thin ellipse with very sharp rather than rounded points. According to some experts, the shadow could be from something between spacecraft and Mars as the planet’s surface can see been below. According to the Russians, the long ellipsoid-shaped object was 25 kilometers (approximately 15 miles) in length. Additionally, the Soviets did not suggest that the dark, “thin ellipse” might have been a shadow of the moonlet.
Interestingly, one of the mission control rooms at Kaliningrad, Russia concluded that the probe was spinning out of control. It would seem that something struck or shot the Phobos II Probe.
According to an article published in UFO Magazine Vol. 7 Issue, 01 1992 by the author named Don Ecker, “The above print of an infrared photograph of the Martian moonlet Phobos accompanied by an alleged UFO is being seen for the first time in a U.S. publication. Also, he stated that NASA was a part of this mission. Phobos II had several American and European science packages on board, along with a very powerful Soviet laser. The laser was to be fired at the moonlet Phobos, and the resultant gases were analyzed by onboard equipment. All this activity was to assist with future missions to Mars, and the grand finale was hoped to be a joint U.S./U.S.S.R. mission to Mars.”
He also wrote: “The photo was first made public on the November 22, 1991 show ‘Larry King Live,’ when UFO Research Director Don Ecker appeared on the show with author Keith Thompson.”
Further, the author discussed the incident mentioned by Zecharia Sitchin in his book “Genesis Revisited.” In the book, Sitchin included a photo released by the Russians, which showed a large ellipse shadow reflected off Mars. Sitchin claimed that several photos Phobos sent back prior to disappearing were never released by the Russians and that they treated the entire matter as “above top secret.”
Ecker stated that according to Dr. Marina Popvich, the former Soviet test pilot, Phobos 2 unusual photos were even discussed by Soviet Gen. Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and President Bush at the Malta conference.
Was it a real UFO? There are few debunk stories on the Internet which blame the bad data transmission for the glitch created in the photo. But still, they are just mere amateur explanations by the skeptics to exclude the UFO theory from the case. There is no official statement regarding the anomaly if it was a glitch or a UFO, which made this incident unsolved till now.