Water on Mars: Score One for Amateur Research

Unless you were captured by the Mole people and just recently released --I heard Molemaids are hot, bro!-- you've probably read the news from NASA announcing the discovery of liquid water on the south pole of Mars; something which *exponentially* increases our chances of finding extraterrestrial life on our sibling planet in the near future.

Director Ridley Scott, who is about to release his newest film 'The Martian', claims he knew about the flowing water on Mars "about two months ago", when the head of NASA showed him the photographs that were released yesterday to the rest of the world.

But there was someone who knew the dark stains streaking across the Martian landscape was evidence of liquid water more than 14 years ago. That person was amateur astronomer Efrain Palermo.

Efrain, who resides in Portland, is what NASA scientists would call an 'armchair researcher.' He holds no degrees in Physics, Astronomy or Geology; but nonetheless has a passion for Science and Space. And like many other civilians, he likes to go through the thousands of publicly-released images taken by NASA's probes orbiting the Red Planet for almost 2 decades.

It was in one of those archival images taken by the Mars Global Surveyor --which has been charting the planet's surface since September of 1997-- in 2000-2001, when Efrain came across an image showing black streaks, which at that time were interpreted as 'dust slides' by NASA. However, Efrain became convinced by casual observation the streaks were water-related.

After gleaning through thousands of images, I had collected over 400 that had streaks in them. [Software engineer] Jill England joined me, and wrote a program to look for duplicate images taken at different times of the year, and she found images which showed flow activity in present time.

Richard Hoagland suggested plotting the images, and when we did so it became evident that the streaks were all in the equatorial zone of Mars, which is the warmest part of Mars and therefore likely candidates for liquid water.

Efrain and Jill partnered with Harry Moore --a geologist for the Society for Planetary SETI Research(SPSR) , Blaine, Tennessee-- who also had an interest in water on Mars, and brought sound geology to the table. Together they wrote a short paper --which you can read here-- and presented it at the 4th International Mars Society Convention, at Stanford University, in August 2001.

Robert Zubrin, founder of the Mars Society, had this to say about Palermo et al and yesterday's anouncement on his Facebook page:

This is remarkable, Moore, England, and Palermo are amateur astronomers who went over the MGS data on their own to make the discovery, 14 years before NASA's announcement today.

Asked for a comment, Efrain showed diplomacy albeit tainted with justified frustration, because his work wasn't given its due recognition in yesterday's landslide of Mars-related articles:

The recent news announcement was validating; even though we did not have access to spectroscopic tools ,and we're working with the much lower resolution of the Mars Orbital Camera, we still arrived at the same conclusions 14 years ago. The information has been on my website since 2001, and I presented my seeps paper at the 2001 Mars Society Convention at Stanford U. While it has been gratifying to have NASA validate that work, it is also frustrating that no credit was given to the paper and its authors.

Frustrating, indeed. On the one hand NASA and the US government are always trying to keep the public interested in space exploration --after all, that's how they gain the necessary funding for future missions-- and yet when a group of amateurs make a substantial contribution to Science, they get silently swept under the rug without even a kudos.

Is it because they lacked the 'right' kind of credentials, and this is the typical reaction an 'outsider' receives when it comes knocking at the doors of Academia's ivory tower? Or maybe because they are guilty of associating themselves with someone like Richard Hoagland, who is by now synonymous with kooky claims about Martian civilizations who left the surface of their planet littered with all sorts of pareidolic artifacts?

With regards to the former, you'd think Astronomy would be more welcoming with amateurs, since they have been credited with all sorts of discoveries --e.g. the Shoemaker-Levy comet.

As for the latter, well… there's no getting around the fact that there arepeople in this field who stared at the Void far longer than they should have, and that for every Palermo or Hancock making astounding claims which are still not outside the realm of possibility, there are also folks finding Bigfoot on Mars, or selling Lemurian headbands...

Either an honest mistake or a blatant omission, NASA should do well in crediting people like Efrain Palermo*. Because he's an example that when it comes to space exploration (as with several other fields) it is amateurs --i.e. people not directly associated with government space agencies or academic institutions-- the ones who are now pushing the envelope and helping us expand our horizons.

And it will be amateurs like himself, Zubrin and Elon Musk, the ones which will probably determine our future as a space-faring civilization in the years to come.

(*) Efrain also happens to be the discoverer of Phobos' monolith; you know, the one Buzz Aldrin was so excited about?

To further know more about Efrain's work on Mars, listen to his interview on The Grimerica Show.

Efrain and Jill England also discussed the recent NASA news last night (Sept. 28) on Richard Hoagland's radio show The Other Side of Midnight.

UPDATE: In an interview for CNN to discuss NASA's anouncement, Robert Zubrin sets the record straight on the (not-so-recent) discovery of flowing water on Mars, and mentions Palermo et al's work.

News Briefs 29-09-2015

Shhh, I think we're being watched....

Thanks @disinfo, @anomalistnews and @fiona_lang.

Quote of the Day:

Well, we both agree that UFOs exist. Our only difference is that you think you know what they are and I'm still puzzled.

Robert Anton Wilson

Fire in the Sky: The Inside Story (An Exclusive Excerpt from Silver Screen Saucers)

Like the Daily Grail on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, to find more fascinating articles like this one.

If you're into UFOs and alien abductions, chances are that in 1993 you rushed to your nearest multiplex to watch Fire in the Sky, the Hollywood movie based on Travis Walton's homonymous book.

Chances also are, that nearing the end of it you felt an overpowering compulsion to throw your bag of popcorn on to the screen, and yell "THAT'S NOT HOW IT HAPPENED!" as you stormed out of the theater --or were escorted out in handcuffs. Fact is, Fire in the Sky is paradoxical in being the best AND worst cinematic depiction of the alien abduction phenomenon in a major motion picture.

In an exclusive excerpt from his book Silver Screen Saucers [Amazon US & UK], film researcher and author Robbie Graham shares with us the inside story of what really happened during the arduous journey to bring Fire in the Sky to the big screen; a movie studios rejected from the get-go, because they couldn't understand it or place it in the usual Sci-Fi box where they put all aliens and space monsters.

In a way, Hollywood's repudiation of abductions is but a symptom of how our society at large still hasn't found a way to tackle with this confounding phenomena, even 4 decades after Travis Walton suffered his amazing experience in a snowy Arizonian woods. Which is why Robbie's work is so important for the people inside and outside of the UFOlogy field.








Screenwriter reveals why that infamous abduction scene was so creatively distorted…

1993 saw the release of Fire in the Sky – Hollywood’s take on the famous Travis Walton UFO abduction case of 1975, in which the Arizona logger claimed to have been taken aboard a flying saucer and later into an expansive spaceport, and to have interacted with two different species of aliens – the now archetypal ‘Grays’ (or a variant of them), and attractive human-looking beings (commonly known in UFOlogy as ‘Nordics’). What distinguishes Walton’s story from innumerable other accounts of cosmic kidnapping is that his apparent abduction was witnessed in part by the six other men on his logging crew. They sped back into town that night to inform bemused authorities of how a UFO had zapped Travis in front of their very eyes. Assuming he was dead, the terrified loggers had left their colleague where he lay, the saucer looming above his lifeless body.

A swirling storm of confusion, anger, and allegations was soon to descend on the sleepy town of Snowflake. The loggers, having reported to police that their friend had been

Did Martian Druids Build Marshenge?

Color image of "Marshenge"

Just in case you've been living under a megalith, the internet's abuzz over the discovery of a "circle" of stones on Mars.

Dubbed Marshenge, by commenter Jeff Taylor at Facebook's Journey to the Surface of the MARS, this formation's triggered a deluge of speculation. It was originally imaged by by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on September 24, 2012 at 3:29 p.m. local time in Nilosyrtis Mensae (28.064°N, 75.956°E).


The obvious Earthly parallel is England's Stonehenge. According to mainstream archaeologists this 5,000 year old stone circle is aligned with the summer solstice's sunrise and the winter solstice's sunset. Mavericks, like Graham Hancock, propose a connection between this and other megalithic sites across Earth, suggesting an ancient global civilization. This hypothesis isn't so outlandish with Bronze Age burials around Stonehenge hailing from the Mediterranean, Germany, and France.

Were Martians among those cosmopolitan visitors, returning home to erect their own tourist trap? Until we have boots on the ground to "science the shit out of this" we won't know for certain, but puny Earthlings can still make a pretty good guess.

Marshenge circle measurement

Marshenge hill measurement

The MRO's HiRISE camera resolution in the original image is 25 cm per pixel.

This formation is impressive with Marshenge's "hill" being approximately 359 pixels in diameter, and the stone "circle" is about 188 px, translating to 89.7 meters and 47 meters respectively. The four primary stones, which I shall provisionally dub Greg (3 o'clock), Patrick (6 o'clock), Andreas (9 o'clock), and Miguel (noon), cast shadows making it easy to calculate their height by plugging in the numbers from the NASA/University of Arizona's metadata into the following equation.

tan (Sun Elevation)=(Height of the Object) / (Length of the shadow)

"Greg" is close to 2.25 meters tall, and "Miguel" a little shorter at 1.8m. "Patrick" is closer to 1.62m, and "Andreas" measures up to a mere 81 cm. These are short compared with the 7-9 meter tall megaliths of Stonehenge, but formidable with their remarkable width. "Greg"'s 6.25 meters wide (measured at the diagonal, west to east), "Patrick" at 1.8m, "Miguel" 4m at the widest point, and "Andreas" measuring at 4.25m.

If their placement isn't natural, then Martians certainly have a different aesthetic than us. The stones don't appear to be aligned to cardinal directions nor the direction of Mars's solstice sunrises and sunsets. Any resemblance to Stonehenge could be chalked up to pareidolia. Yet if this is an artificial arrangement, maybe there's more to be found beneath the hill much like Göbekli Tepe appears to have been intentionally buried.

On the other hand, these stones might be ejecta from an ancient eruption. Another possible explanation, put forward by mainstream media, is 'sorted terrain', or 'patterned ground'. This phenomenon appears on Earth and Mars where sediment and small stones are arranged by permafrost's freeze-thaw cycles. Looking closely at the raw images, this may not be the case since the area doesn't resemble Earth's patterned ground below.

patterned ground and sorted terrain

Until humans can examine them firsthand, we'll never know for certain. Until then, I'm fairly confident this is a natural phenomenon but hope to get proven wrong one day.

My gratitude to Andreas Müller at GreWi for his assistance in determining the correct pixel measurements, and utilizing HiRISE's JP2 archives, facilitating my revision of this article with the correct dimensions of Marshenge.

Zombism Spreads By Being Eaten In The Insect World

An infected caterpillar courtesy of Wikipedia
Everyone knows zombie bites are deadly, with the infectious agent reanimating the corpse to shamble around to make new zombies. Evidence from a new paper at PLOS One reveals "zombified" caterpillars are considered delicious by healthy specimens, turning the trope on its ear.

Nucleopolyhedrovirus is a nasty pathogen giving the host a nasty brown and yellow pallor, inducing vomiting and lethargy, while liquifying the body from the inside-out. While not a true zombie virus in the movie tradition, it's terrifyingly close. Despite all the grossness, uninfected caterpillars find them to be delicious. Dulce Rebolledo and pals at Mexico's Instituto de Ecología observed healthy caterpillars staying close to their sickly friends, preferring to eat those bodies over 'healthy' cadavers. Those morsels are highly infectious with a 100% mortality rate, ensuring the continuation of the zombie cycle. Even if a bug isn't able to directly eat a 'zombie', the infected like to crawl to the top of plants to die only to fall down, smearing infectious goodness on the leaves below.

the very hungry caterpillar

Breathe a sign of relief, as humans have nothing to worry about. The virus prefers the alkaline-based cells of insects over our acid-based cells. Wikipedia does say the virus crystals can enter human cells, but won't replicate to the point of illness.

Just remember, mutations happen, so stay frosty and keep your ammo dry just in case.

News Briefs 28-09-2015

Super-blood-moon! First it steals your mind, and then it steals your...soul! (Sung to the tune of Soundgarden's Superunkown)...

Thanks @anomalistnews.

Quote of the Day:

Language exerts hidden power, like the moon on the tides.

Rita Mae Brown



What's the end game of late-stage capitalism? What provisions are The Powers That Be making for the Coming Collapse; for Climate Chaos and other Catastrophes? This is the Plutocratic Exit Strategy. In this series we'll see how they plan on making their getaway, and how we can work to steal the future back.

We start this series of posts by looking at the arrival of the Hyperloop; the latest piece of science fictional technology to be delivered to us - as if plucked from the future readymade - by that great prophet of the Myth of Progress: "the real world Tony Stark" himself, Elon Musk.

We'll hop aboard the "fifth mode of transport" to examine the California Ideology so prevalent in Silicon Valley today and visit Tim Leary & Co's idea of SMI2LE. Then we'll head into the shadow realms, to penetrate the secret world of Classified Technology, and the mythology that surrounds it.

Our ultimate destination is to come to an understanding of how these two different aspects of the world we live in are being actively merged to a create an almost unimaginable life for the privileged few that will be admitted to it, and the price the rest of us will bear to achieve it.

Between a near-future of vast private infrastructure - of fusion power and off-world colonies - and a world full of hyperconnected refugees fleeing war & climate chaos.

Our mission is to build up a vocabulary for discussing these extraordinary conditions, as we teeter ever more precariously on the knife edge between Dystopia and Utopia. To do this we'll have to undertake a wider than usual survey of pop culture; from the land of sci-fi and spy-fi into the murkier waters of conspiracy theory and ufology and back out again, into reality with our heads made bigger and eyes widened ready for the task ahead.

The opening parts of this series are framed largely through the fictional universes of two films: Tomorrowland and Kingsman: The Secret Service, with a little help from the comic books of Jonathan Hickman. SPOILERS AHEAD FOR ALL THREE.

A ride on the Hyperloop from the Shadow State to the Breakaway Civilisation.

Hyperloop Technologies, Inc., is the world’s next breakthrough in transportation, engineering unique transportation solutions worldwide for both cargo and passengers. The company was founded in 2014 and is headquartered in downtown Los Angeles, California. For more information, please visit http://hyperlooptech.com

Here's some of the hyperbole they bust out in the launch video; a near complete transcript of sound bites:

  • A chance to change the world. To change the future.
  • From Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30mins.
  • It's going to bring the world closer together.
  • Live anywhere. Work anywhere.

Unless you've been living in a cave - or boring tunnels for an unknown corporation - you'll be well aware that Hyperloop is another of Elon Musk's grand inventions for improving the planet. Unlike the Tesla electric car or powerwall, the SpaceX rocket or whatever else Musk has dreamt up since, this is one idea he is just giving away.

More than that, he's actively encouraging other companies to develop the technology, sponsoring a competition in the same vein as the recent DARPA Robotics Challenge and the X-Prize (a non-profit that Elon sits on the board of) - reminding the world: "Neither SpaceX nor Elon Musk is affiliated with any Hyperloop companies." But the founder of the X-Prize, Peter Diamandis, is one of the backers behind Hyperloop Technologies.

And so it has begun... HYPERLOOP IS HERE!

But where, exactly, has it come from? It can best be thought of as sharing aspects of two different places, two different dimensions of reality. The second, we can think of as Spook Country. The first, is - as our friend Red Pill Junkie described it elsewhere - a Disneyfied Breakaway Civilization (we'll come back to that phrase shortly).

Tomorrowland: The Future That Got Away

This is the vision the young hero of Tomorrowland, Casey Newton, gets when she holds her pin that serves as an invitation to go there; it's all very Field of Dreams - "if you build it, they will come" could be another tagline for the film. It's just that everyone else seems to have stopped trying. To her alone is extended the last 'golden ticket' to visit an alternate dimension where the future can be built, unbridled by messy things like government restrictions. Where the Precautionary Principle is left behind. This is the secret homeland of the Myth of Progress.

As this trailer for the film shows, the pitch is that it's all about recruiting people - dreamers, high achievers - who want to ... Read More »

Eyes Up Here: New Garment Senses Stares


Most scientists remain puzzled by the "sense of being stared at", best described in Rupert Sheldrake's eponymous article in the Journal of Consciousness Studies. Investigated by many people, from Edward Titchener's seminal survey to Sheldrake's contemporary inquiry, the phenomenon's been replicated many times but some remain steadfastly skeptical.

Now the experience has been duplicated by Behnaz Farahi with a 3D-printed garment sensitive to other people's gazes. Watch the video and get a few clues how this gadget knows when you're looking.

Fifty Shades of Greys from 1895


Over at the Public Domain Review, there's a few scans from The physiotherapy in gynecology and the mechanical treatment of diseases of the uterus and its appendages by Thure Brandt. These images are eerily familiar for those steeped in forteana, featuring figures with gracile bodies, large heads, largely featureless faces, and big, dark eyes.

Thankfully these are a far cry from the hairy, hippy-sex sketches from The Joy of Sex, it does make one wonder if a copy was on the shelf of Betty Hill's alien gynecologist. Check out the rest for yourself! h/t to Undine on Twitter for sharing this gem.