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Mysterious Disappearance of Soviet Spacecraft Phobos II

A Soviet 'Close Encounter'

by Don Ecker

UFO magazine, Vol. 7, No. 1 1992

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.

The photo was first made public on the Nov. 22, 1991 show "Larry King Live," when UFO Research Director Don Ecker appeared on the show with author Keith Thompson.

The story of this photo began in July of 1988, when the Soviet Union launched two unmanned probes to rendezvous with the planet Mars and one of its two moons, Phobos. Not long after launch, the first spacecraft Phobos I suffered a malfunction, which the Russians blamed on a combination of both human and computer failure.

Phobos II

The second craft, Phobos II, reached Mars in January, 1989. Unknown to most citizens in the United States, 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 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.

All went well until March 25, 1989. Later, in the British publication Nature, the Soviets discussed their Phobos mission, but only devoted a couple of paragraphs to why it failed. According to the Russians, "something" turned the Soviet probe Phobos II into a "spinner," and the unmanned craft then disappeared.

According to Zechariah Sitchin in his book Genesis Revisited, the rumor going around was that the Soviet spacecraft had encountered a huge "UFO" while in Mars orbit. In his book, Sitchin included a photo that the Russians released, which showed a large ellipse shadow reflected off Mars. Sitchin claims that the few photos Phobos sent back prior to disappearing were never released by the Russians, and that they treated the entire matter as "above top secret."

Photo of large ellipse shadow
reflected off Mars surface

Dr. Marina Popovich, the former Soviet test pilot who has made several trips to the U.S. to share her views on the UFO issue, claimed to UFO in May of 1991 that the incident was discussed by Soviet Gen. Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and President Bush at the Malta conference.

The photo was given to Dr. Popovich, she says, by Soviet Cosmonaut Leonov in June of 1989, and was reportedly taken by the infrared cameras on board the ill-fated Soviet craft. According to the Russians, the long ellipsoid-shaped object seen just outside of Phobos was 25 kilometers (approximately 15½ miles) in length.

Is it a real UFO? Was it of extraterrestrial origin? The jury is still out on those questions. But if the photo is not a fabrication, it can be safely assumed the object was not built on earth with those dimensions. The photo certainly qualifies as another piece of the puzzle, and if real, proof that any cover-up of the UFO presence cannot continue indefinitely.
No infringement intended. For educational purposes only.