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Posted on September 20, 2017.

A new plume seen rising over a limb of Mars on March 25, 2017 raises the question: Was there a recent asteroid impact at Alba Patera on Mars, a volcanic eruption, a meteorlogical event spawned by the volcano below, or a nuclear event?

       On March 27, 2017 Marco de Marco and Matteo Fagone published an article in Italian entitled Eruzione Vulcanica su Marte (Volcanic Eruption on Mars?). The article is based on the new plume seen rising above Mars as shown on MarsWebCam images. MarsWebCam is located on the Mars Express spacecraft. It's operated by the Mars Express Flight Control Team at the the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) which serves as the main mission control center for the European Space Agency (ESA) in Darmstadt, Germany. The first image that Marco de Marco and Matteo Fagone published is shown here as Figure 1.


       If we are going to comprehend the true nature of Mars it's important to understand that such plumes are surprisingly common on Mars. Figure 2 below has an image which was taken on March 20, 2012 by W. Jaeschke. Had it been taken after August 6 that year we would have had weather data from the Mars Science Laboratory, however we still can say this much. The North Pole is at the bottom of the picture, Mars was at Solar Longitude (Ls) 85.4, Sol, 184. This was late spring in the northern hemisphere, late fall in the southern hemisphere below the cloud.


















       Figure 2 above has an image that was taken on March 20, 2012 by W. Jaeschke. Had it been taken after August 6 that year we would have had weather data from the Mars Science Laboratory, however we still can say this much. The North Pole is at the bottom of the picture, Mars was at Solar Longitude (Ls) 85.4, Sol, 184. This was late spring in the northern hemisphere, late fall in the southern hemisphere below the cloud.


       The following story is from “An extremely high altitude plume seen at Mars morning terminator,” by A. Sánchez-Lavega et al. is published in the 16 February 2015 issue of the journalNature.

Mystery Plume on Mars

6 February 2015

       Plumes seen reaching high above the surface of Mars are causing a stir among scientists studying the atmosphere on the Red Planet.

       On two separate occasions in March and April 2012, amateur astronomers reported definite plume-like features developing on the planet (see Figure 3  below).

The plumes were seen rising to altitudes of over 250 km above the same region of Mars on both occasions. By comparison, similar features seen in the past have not exceeded 100 km.

       “At about 250 km, the division between the atmosphere and outer space is very thin, so the reported plumes are extremely unexpected,” says Agustin Sanchez-Lavega of the Universidad del País Vasco in Spain, lead author of the paper reporting the results in the journal Nature.

       The features developed in less than 10 hours, covering an area of up to 1000 x 500 km, and remained visible for around 10 days, changing their structure from day to day.

       None of the spacecraft orbiting Mars saw the features because of their viewing geometries and illumination conditions at the time.

       However, checking archived Hubble Space Telescope images taken between 1995 and 1999 and of databases of amateur images spanning 2001 to 2014 revealed occasional clouds at the limb of Mars, albeit usually only up to 100 km in altitude.

 But one set of Hubble images from 17 May 1997 revealed an abnormally high plume, similar to that spotted by the amateur astronomers in 2012 (see Figure 4 below).

       Scientists are now working on determining the nature and cause of the plumes by using the Hubble data in combination with the images taken by amateurs.

       “One idea we’ve discussed is that the features are caused by a reflective cloud of water-ice, carbon dioxide-ice or dust particles, but this would require exceptional deviations from standard atmospheric circulation models to explain cloud formations at such high altitudes,” says Agustin.

       “Another idea is that they are related to an auroral emission, and indeed auroras have been previously observed at these locations, linked to a known region on the surface where there is a large anomaly in the crustal magnetic field,” adds Antonio Garcia Munoz, a research fellow at ESA’s ESTEC and co-author of the study.

ROFFMAN COMMENT: A survey of the areas of plumes or flares seen shows great variability. We doubt that the correct explanation will be found here.

       The jury is still out on the nature and genesis of these curious high-altitude Martian plumes. Further insights should be possible following the arrival of ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter at the Red Planet, scheduled for launch in 2016.

Notes for Editors:

The ground-based images were provided by astronomers W. Jaeschke, D. Parker, J. Phillips and D. Peach.

For further information, please contact:

Markus Bauer

ESA Science and Robotic Exploration Communication Officer

Tel: +31 71 565 6799

Mob: +31 61 594 3 954

Email: markus.bauer@esa.int

Agustin Sanchez-Lavega
Universidad del País Vasco UPV/EHU
Email: agustin.sanchez@ehu.es

Antonio Garcia Munoz
Email: agarcia@cosmos.esa.int

Figures 3 and 4 below: Plumes seen rising over Mars in 2012 and back in 1997.

Figure 5 below: A relatively new impact crater at 3.7 degrees north latitude, 53.4 degrees east longitude on Mars. Figure 6 below - meteorite spotted by Curiosity.

       When looking at relatively frequent plumes or bright spots observed over the last few decades, there are four possible explantions that are worthy of consideration: (1) An asteroid impact, (2) a volcanic event, (3) a massive spiral storm like those seen over Arsia Mons and also over Olympus Mons, and (4) a nuclear event.


       Common sense would indicate that since Mars is close to the asteroid belt, and since many meteorites have been observed by successful Mars rovers, an asteroid impact is the most likely explanation. However to nail this down we need to correlate the plume with any new impact crater. Figure 5 shows an impact crater, but it was not the event that caused any 2017 plume. In reference to it JPL states that the image was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Nov. 19, 2013. Researchers noticed a change in appearance here between observations in July 2010 and May 2012, bracketing the formation of the crater between those observations. The crater spans approximately 30 meters in diameter and is surrounded by a large, rayed blast zone. Because the terrain where the crater formed is dusty, the fresh crater appears blue in the enhanced color of the image, due to removal of the reddish dust in that area. The explosion that excavated this crater threw ejecta as far as 9.3 miles (15 kilometers). The crater is at 3.7 degrees north latitude, 53.4 degrees east longitude on Mars and is not near the plume observed on March 25, 2017.

       JPL states that that impacts producing craters at least 12.8 feet (3.9 meters) in diameter occur at a rate exceeding 200 per year globally. Figure 6 shows the first meteorite spotted by Curiosity in 2014.  


        Marco de Marco and Matteo Fagone have recently become our European partners in getting the truth about Mars out to the public, and in particular to the European Space Agency (ESA). On September 3, 2017 they posted an extensive interview of my son and I that he conducted on their Planteta Marte.net web site. What will follow here will first be a translation of their volcano article with comementary by me in dark blue bold fonts, and then I'll look at possible explanations that may be nuclear in nature with an eye towards what Dr. John Brandeburg has alleged about the distant Martian past.

Marco wrote, "On Saturday March 25, 2017, spanning the various news for our PianetaMarte.net scientific information page, I noticed the arrival of new photos by Mars Webcam. Though they do not normally attract my attention, in this case I noticed immediately the presence of a puff on the right side of the image of Mars. At first I thought it was a small defect in the image but as soon as I opened the ESA's Flickering page, I noticed that it was not just an artifact but that even there were ten images in which the above-mentioned puff appeared. Looking at the web, to date, I did not find any reference to this phenomenon and I decided to analyze all ten images in detail and to try to go back to the exact location where the phenomenon had occurred. As can be seen from the images, Mars appears as a thin squeak on which there are very few reference details, furthermore the information provided by ESA for the images was totally inadequate for the identification of the affected area.

"As a first step then I have recorded and sequenced all ten images to try to understand the dynamics of the phenomenon. This allowed me to notice immediately that the images tended to rotate downwards and that in the last images the puff appeared clearly detached from the ground. Another aspect of these ten images is that they are taken with different exposure times to groups of three and spaced about one minute apart. Each group of three photos includes a longer exposure that tends to saturate much of the planet's image, a medium exposure and a shorter time when saturated areas are minimized; for clarity I will refer to them as long exposure, medium exposure and short exposure. The complete sequence then appears as a button because of the constant variation of the time available, so I decided to separate the three sequences so that the dynamics of the phenomenon can be better analyzed.

BELOW: Figure 7 series of plumes over Alba Patera.


"From an initial assessment of the last image, the one where the alleged area was supposed to be exactly on the profile of the planet's image, I obtained the scale of the image. Knowing the size of Mars and estimating the diameter that the full disk of the planet would have had in the image of Mars Webcam; the scale was found to be about 14 km / pixel. At this point I was able to trace the width and the altitude reached by the puff, which rose to an altitude of about 60 km with a diameter of about 360 km, a really impressive structure! A phenomenon of this magnitude can hardly be attributed to a sand storm that normally does not have a mushroom structure as in this case. From the animations one clearly sees a structure attached to the limbo of the planet for only a short stretch, while the rest of the "Puff" clearly shows a couple of black pixels between the puff and the surface of the limbo of the planet. This means something has spilled and has stratified between 50 and 60 km of altitude leaving a free space with a surface of about 20-30 km. Clearly a sand storm could not produce such a structure as the wind-driven sand tends to spread evenly from the surface to the quota reached. At this point, interest in a similar phenomenon has motivated me to try to identify the place that had generated this phenomenon, even though the operation itself was far from simple. First, I analyzed the direction of rotation shown by the animations. Already from this fact I was able to establish that the Northern Hemisphere was on the right and the left South. Next I used online programs that calculate the local solar time of some famous landing sites to find the reference longitude for dawn and sunset at the time of the image. With this information I could calculate the longitude of the visible terminator of the images. Knowing the solar longitude of Mars, (Ls 338.4) it was also possible to establish that the North Pole of Mars would be illuminated from about 80 ° latitude, allowing me to go back to the geographic coordinates of the point of interest. With my great surprise I found that the site of interest was a great volcano located in the Northern Hemisphere: Alba Mons (/Alba Patera)."

Figure 8 - Plume over Alba Patera.

Note: As of September 10, 2017 we are still in the process of reading all the findings of Marco, but his claim above that on March 25, 2017 Mars would be illuminated from about 80 ° latitude allowed us to see if his math was correct. Using a spreadsheet developed by David to calculate daylight hours, we found that Marco's approximation was quite accurate. As the segment below indicates to 3 decimal places, at a latitude of 81.1556 degrees North at Ls 338.4 there would be about .02894 hours/1 minute 44 seconds of daylight (at 80 degrees North this time grows to about 3.845 hours of daylight).

λsun Latitude (phi)        Day Length = Daylight In Hours David's Calculation (=E value * 24)
 (0 for spring in northern hemisphere)  δdegrees =  arcsin((sin(25.19)*sin(λsun))   H = arccos((SIN(-.17) - SIN(lw)*SIN(δ))/(COS(lw)*COS(δ))) 2*1.027491*H/360
338.4 81.1556 -9.014340863 0.211249589 0.001205873 0.02894094
338.4  80 -9.014340863 28.06703754 0.160214603 3.845150463

Marco continues:

"This fact coupled with what I have already explained, leads me to suspect a possible volcanic eruption as the morphological and dynamic characteristics of the phenomenon appear to indicate a volcanic eruption. I have to specify that I have no spectrometric indication to be able to ascertain whether the phenomenon was generated by gases, dusts or vapors but that the morphological characteristics clearly indicate that the "material" involved in the phenomenon has escaped from a very narrow area and is climbed up to a height of about 50-60 km where it formed a sort of "donut" structure not thicker than 20-30 km and wide about 360 km. I understand that talking about volcanic activity on an inactive planet for millions of years may seem absurd. Mars does not show signs of volcanic activity for at least 50 million years. The fact remains that the morphology, dynamics and duration of the phenomenon seem to point to the thesis of a volcanic eruption, although the phenomenon will require further investigations to be carried out with orbiting satellites around Mars to establish the real nature of the phenomenon. To conclude attachment as reference other similar phenomena already observed in the predecessor, but unfortunately not supported by subsequent surveys. In this case, the fact that images arrive from ESA's Mars Webcam might well motivate those who have to undertake more in-depth investigation to determine the actual nature of the phenomenon.

We conclude with a curious note: during the detailed analysis of the images, I noticed the presence of two "dots" moving just above the terminator's zone, more or less the same latitude as the above phenomenon. From the direction of motion it seems to be a couple of satellites inserted on polar orbit that causally passed near the described phenomenon. Not having the ephemeris of the polar satellites currently in orbit to Mars, I am not able to determine with certainty what probe it is. I just hope that the above-mentioned probes are active and equipped with cameras so that we can have more detailed shooting and information about the phenomenon in the future."

ESA Credits: ESA. Development of gif: Marco De Marco Credits





IS OLYMPUS MONS STILL ACTIVE? Marco de Marco and Matteo Fagone believe they have also seen plume-based indications of possible volcanic activity on Olympus Mons, the largest volcano on Mars and in our solar system. Look for an expansion of this article here after I complete the analysis of their findings. What follows below is translation from the Italian on their web site. Where the translation seems questionable it will be highlighted with a yhellow background, and corrected as soon as possible.

For the second time in less than two weeks, we witnessed a peculiar phenomenon captured by images from the Mars WebCam (ESA). As promptly reported in our post published on the very day of the event (that is, last April 4, 2017), a large cloud of dust and gas interrupted the continuity of the Martian terminator.


The terminator defines the boundary between the hemispheric hemisphere and the hemisphere in the shade. Consequently, for an object to remain illuminated by the sun before and after sunset, it must be at such a height that it can take it outside the shadow cone of the planet itself. In fact, anyone who has ever observed the moon at the telescope will have easily noticed that some mountain ranges close to the lunar terminator begin to be illuminated from the respective summits while remaining still, though little, in the shaded area.

These peaks appear to be brilliant points just detached from the lunar face, and are ingeniously swapped for UFO by completely astonishing people (!!!). But let's go back to the subject of this article. In essence, the shooting of Mars WebCam shows us a cloud that comes out distinctly from the line of the Martian terminator, allowing us to estimate the minimum latitude that the cloud should have in order to be illuminated by the sun even though it is still in the middle of the night. If we were ideally located below that cloud, say about 40 minutes before dawn, we could observe a still practically black sky, however, by this imposing luminescent cloud, at least as bright as during the daylight hours. By means of trigonometric calculations, we could therefore conclude that the cloud could not be below 60 km, but given that the whole surrounding area is quite elevated compared to the average Mars level (point datum), at least we must add a dozen kilometers to this value, thus reaching an overall level of about 70 km. Its latitude extension was 900 km, though with a very irregular structure and only partially analyzable due to the overexposure of the Martian vulture visible from the WebCam mounted on the Mars Express probe. The location of this event was possible thanks to the use of the "Mars Clock" site by James Tauber, but above all thanks to the fantastic Mars24 program that allows you to calculate exactly the illuminated area and the shadow area of ​​Mars for a given time user choice. For astrometric measurements we used the second of the ten photos obtained by Mars WebCam, taken at 04:08:40 UT. By setting this data in the Mars24 program we have obtained the perfect location of the terminator line.

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BELOW: Figure 9 Series of plumes over Olympus Mons.





       The red arrow on this image indicates the exact point that represents the summit of Monte Olimpo. As in the previous phenomenon of March 25, we have put in order the various images in order to produce animations that show the dynamics of the phenomenon as much as possible, even within ten minutes. As usual, Mars WebCam resumes with three different shows for which, in addition to the main animation, we brought the animated gif in the three-degree exposure.

Figure 10 below: Plume over Olympus Mons.

As can be seen, in spite of the shortness of time between the various shots, the cloud shows small morphological changes, thus confirming its aerial nature and not morphological geographies, thus confirming its aerial and non-geographic nature. For the sake of completeness, we note that often the great Martian volcanoes are home to formation of orographic clouds, i.e. clouds that are formed due to the condensation of water vapor when large masses of air are forced to climb altitude to overcome an obstacle.

As you can see in this video, orographic clouds are often present in the east of the great Martian volcanoes. However, given the extreme rarefaction of the Martian atmosphere, it is very unlikely to think that water vapor or clouds can rise to such high levels. At about 70 km of altitude, the Martian atmospheric pressure should be around a few tenths of hPa (or if you prefer a few dozen Pascal), a bit ridiculous value! On the other hand, so that the dust particles can climb up to 70 km altitude, ignoring the friction of air, they should be "fired up" at about 2500 km/h, or 2.5 times the speed of the sound! For this reason, available data suggest a volcanic nature of the phenomenon, probably of an explosive nature, the only one capable of firing in other dust and debris. We are waiting for further photographic repetitions such as the shooting of MARCI used in the previous case.



Cushing and Wynne (2007) proposed that photos from the Mars Odyssey mission reveal football-field size holes that could be entrances to caves on Arsia Mons.38A  The seven suspect caves ranged from 100 to 251 meters wide and 130 meters deep.  The claim that they are caves is based on an analysis of photographs from the Thermal Emission Imaging System aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter.  The dark spots don’t look like impact craters since they lack raised rims or blast patterns. In 2012 JPL released a photo of a hole on Pavonis Mons, with the floor of a cavern visible about 20 meters below (see right side of the Figure 9 below - Spiral clouds over Arsia Mons and Olympus Mons adapted from http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA04294 and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mro/multimedia/images/?ImageID=894&NewsInfo=59C884BFF2B8E0EDCEDF15F64B98BC57A5

The dust devil issue here is whether drafts rising from inside these caves on Arsia Mons could serve as the cause of the dust devils that are seen even at 17 km there. Temperatures in these features are warmer than the outside air at night and cooler during the day. Dust devils are not the only feature spiraling up from Arsia Mons.  Jet Propulsion Laboratory states that:

Just before southern winter begins (NOTE: This is in error, JPL should have indicated just before southern spring begins), sunlight warms the air on the slopes of the volcano. This air rises, bringing small amounts of dust with it. Eventually, the rising air converges over the volcano's caldera, the large, circular depression at its summit. The fine sediment blown up from the volcano's slopes coalesces into a spiraling cloud of dust that is thick enough to actually observe from orbit. The spiral dust cloud over Arsia Mons repeats each year, but observations and computer calculations indicate it can only form during a short period of time each year. Similar spiral clouds have not been seen over the other large Tharsis volcanoes, but other types of clouds have been seen... The spiral dust cloud over Arsia Mons can tower 15 to 30 kilometers (9 to 19 miles) above the volcano.38B

       However, while I was producing an updated version of this report, I checked my link to the Arsia Mons figure and found that JPL had added an image of a similar storm on Olympus Mons at an altitude of over 21 km above areoid. Arsia Mons is at 9° South. With respect to the season, southern spring begins at Ls 180. It extends to Ls 270.  Ls 90 to 179.9 is southern winter. The Arsia Mons storms occur between Ls 150.4 and 180. They are therefore between the late winter and the first day of spring, but the storm over Olympus Mons in the northern hemisphere at Ls 152.6 is in late summer. There are structures analogous to the eye walls of small hurricanes associated with the spiral clouds. They are about 10 km across and appear quite vigorous on Arsia Mons and about 7 km across at Olympus Mons. These pictures were taken just before when planetary pressures should be near minimums. At such high altitude, there shouldn’t be enough pressure differentials to drive such storms if NASA is right, but they are plainly wrong. We do not have cameras in place at all times ready to snap pictures of these storms. As for altitude of these clouds, Arsia Mons is 17 km high. Clouds 30 lm above it would take the cloud height to 47 km (29 miles high). While this is not as high as the plume over Olympus Mons that is, according to Marco de Marco, at least 60 km high, it begins to approach that height and we may only be seeing a small sample of such plumes.

Figure 9 below: Spiral storms over Arsia Mons and Olympus Mons.


       There is thorium, a fissionable element, present at Alba Patera. Since Marco de Marco and Matteo Fagone believe this was the epicenter of the cause of the March 25, 2017, it's worth the effort to review assertions made by Dr. John Brandenburg with reference to an ancient natural nuclear events at Okla in Africa, and possibly at Acidalia Planitia on Mars. We know Brandenburg well. His true beliefs about Mars were not accurately portayed in intiail reports about his research. First let's take a look at an article about him written by John Brandon (not to bed confused with John Brandenburg). The article had an unfortunate release date of April's Fools Day, but that was not planned.

Figure 10 below: Competing areas of interest for the Marco de Marco and Matteo Fagone team that they suspect of volcanic activity vs. the areas of nuclear concern raised by Dr. John Brandenburg.

Figure 11 below: Areas of nuclear concern and areas of methane plumes.

Ever wonder why the red planet is red? About 180 million years ago, a planet-shattering yet naturally occurring nuclear reaction may have wiped out everything on Mars, sending a shockwave that turned the planet into dry sand. Even more incredible: A natural nuclear reaction could have occurred on our own planet -- and could happen again, said Dr. John Brandenburg, a senior propulsion scientist at Orbital Technologies Corp.

"The Martian surface is covered with a thin layer of radioactive substances including uranium, thorium and radioactive potassium -- and this pattern radiates from a hot spot [on Mars],” Brandenburg told FoxNews.com.

“A nuclear explosion could have sent debris all around the planet," he said. "Maps of gamma rays on Mars show a big red spot that seems like a radiating debris pattern ... on the opposite side of the planet there is another red spot."

According to Brandenburg, the natural explosion, the equivalent of 1 million one-megaton hydrogen bombs, occurred in the northern Mare Acidalium region of Mars where there is a heavy concentration of radioactivity. This explosion filled the Martian atmosphere with radio-isotopes as well, which are seen in recent gamma ray spectrometry data taken by NASA, he said. 

The radioactivity also explains why the planet looks red. Brandenburg said gamma ray spectrometry taken over the past few years shows spiking radiation from Xenon 129 -- an increase also seen on Earth after a nuclear reaction or a nuclear meltdown, including the one at Chernobyl in 1986 and the disaster in Japan earlier this month.

Dr. David Beaty, Mars program science manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told FoxNews.com that he finds the idea intriguing and fascinating. But to prove the science, the agency would need to plan a mission to explore Mare Acidalium on Mars. And there are more pressing issues, including missions to find extraterrestrial life. “You have to assess the importance of the question relative to the cost of answering the question,” he said.

Still, Beaty expressed doubts, saying the geological conditions on this planet and Mars have existed for millennia -- what exists has existed for a long time, and there are few sudden changes. “Rocks are what they are. [A natural nuclear reaction] could happen in another billion years, but it is not something to make you want to go home to your family and move to the mountains right away,” he said.

Dr. Lars Borg, a scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Lab, called Brandenburg’s conclusions unsurprising -- and part of known geological processes, not a nuclear reaction.

"We've looked at Martian meteorites for 15 years, and looked in detail at the isotopic measurements .. and not a single person out of hundreds worrying about this have thought there could have been a nuclear explosion on Mars," he told FoxNews.com. Brandenburg -- who once worked at Livermore himself -- defended his research, arguing that defense experts he talked to off the record said they agreed there are signs of a nuclear reaction. Besides, there's a precedence for a natural nuclear reaction on our own planet, he noted. The Oklo, Gabon, region of Africa has uranium-coated sediments from a nuclear reaction that occurred 2 billion years ago.

A massive nuclear explosion on Mars would have created huge craters on the surface, visible from orbiting telescopes like Hubble and from the Mars rovers. Brandenburg said such craters could have filled in with sand over the past 180 million years, leaving no visual cues to prove the theory. Another possibility is that the reaction occurred in mid-air and did not leave a crater -- which is exactly what happened at the Tunguska event in Russia in 1909, presumably by a large comet.

Harrison Schmitt, a geological expert and the last man to step out of the Apollo spacecraft on the moon, told FoxNews.com that there is “general validity” to Brandenburg’s theory. He said the nuclear reaction may not have been caused by an explosion, however, and might have occurred over time. Edward D. McCullough, a science and space consultant, agreed that the Mare Acidalium region of Mars does show some strange colors and terrain formations that seem unexplainable.

“There seems to be a reasonable closure between the number of fissions required to produce the Xenon 129 enhancement and the amount of energy required to toss material to that point on Mars,” he said.

“This massive nuclear explosion on Mars seems to defy natural explanation,” said Brandenburg.

WHAT IS THE AREA OF DR. BRANDENBURG'S CONCERN ON MARS? Dr. Brandenburg points to Mare Acidalium. This is in the northeast portion of the western hemipshere of Mars between 300° and 360° East, and between 30° and 65° North. The famous "face" at Cydonia lies within this region at 40.75° North latitude and 350.54 degrees East (9.46° West) longitude. The face at Cydonia is shown on the cover of his newest book.  In plancing at my topographoc globe of Mars, I don't see any volcanoes. The area is about 3 or 4 km below areoid.


I last spoke to Dr. Brandenburg around May 2011. At that time he was doing research at Orbital Technologies Corporation in Madison, Wisconsin his previous background from recent back to earlier years is as follows:

  • At Florida Space Institute at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida,
  • The Aerospace Corporation, where one of his duties was as principle investigator of the MET (Microwave Electro-Thermal) propulsion project.
  • Performed an architecture study for a Human Mars Mission using solar electric propulsion.
  • Performed research on Fusion Propulsion and Kaluza-Klein theory of Field Unification for purposes of space propulsion.
  • Was a researcher at Research Support Instruments (RSI) where he specialized in making controlled laboratory plasmas for uses ranging from Fusion research to the MET thruster.
  • Worked as an independent consultant on Space Missile Defense, Directed Energy Weapons, and space rocket plume phenomenology.
  • At Mission Research Corporation and Sandia National Laboratories on plasmas for controlled fusion and similar topics.
  • PhD in Theoretical Plasma Physics at the UC Davis extension campus at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore California. The Title of his Thesis was “A Theoretical Model of a Reversed Field Ion Layer Made of Monoenergetic Ions.” It dealt with the magnetic confinement of plasmas for controlled nuclear fusion.
  • MS in Applied Science at University of California at Davis.
  • BA in Physics from Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon.

Additional data:

  • Author the “Dead Mars, Dying Earth” (1999) with Monica Rix Paxson, which dealt with the problems of energy and global warming from a comparative planetary science (Earth-Mars) perspective and has been published in the USA, Great Britain, Germany and Japan. It was the winner of the Silver Medal in the Ben Franklin awards for books on science and environment.
  • Recently completed writing a science fiction novel “Morningstar Pass” dealing with the problems of initial contact between humanity and extraterrestrial intelligence and the development of the human race into a space-faring civilization.

From reading his first book, DEAD MARS, DYING EARTH, it is obvious that Mars and the Cydonia face have been at the focus of his intense research for three decades now. 

COMMENTARY ABOUT DR. BRANDENBURG'S TWO MARS BOOKS. The thrust of DEAD MARS, DYING EARTH is decidedly environmental. On pages 39-40 the author details concerns that the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) deliberately altered the initial blue sky color (with greenish patches on rocks) seen by Viking 1 to a butterscotch sky color with rusty red rocks seen since then. Further, on page 41 he indicates that a few hours after the Cydonia face image was taken at local sunset in Cydonia, JPL lied to the public by indicating that a second image of the area, taken when it had to be dark at Cydonia, had shown the face had disappeared. JPL, he alleges, said the earlier image was obviously a trick of light and shadow. The immediate significance of this charge here is that, if serious, it would seem to conform with my findings that the pressure in Mars is a good bit higher than NASA argues. 

            His second work, LIFE AND DEATH ON MARS, was a quick update of the true nature of Mars. Editing problems were somewhat of a distraction; however while reading it was more like reading the professor’s notes than reading a book, the “good stuff” (which starts with Mariner 9 on page 81) does a great job in taking us from the dismal lunar-like portrait painted by Mariner 4 to a world that is much more Earth-like.

     THE DEATH OF MARS. Brandenburg argues about why our government was hesitant to start a spiritual crisis for humanity, or to risk a panic similar to that caused by the radio broadcast of War of the Worlds in 1938. But before driving home the evidence for the nuclear incident on Mars, he first tells us about a horrendous asteroid impact that occurred where we now find the Lyot crater at 50N, 330W, north of Arabia Terra and east of Mare Acidalium. That crater (200 km wide) is bigger than the Chicxulub basin on Earth - the impact site that resulted in extinction of the dinosaurs. Then he takes us through the second and largely fatal punch to Mars with a detailed explanation of why the argon 40 isotope found in abundance in the Martian atmosphere and the xenon 129 were problems – they are typical of what forms after a nuclear explosion. Initially we read about a natural nuclear reaction that once took place at a site named Okla in Gabon, Africa. But there were important differences detected between the African and Martian events.

       The Martian meteorites hold little uranium or thorium. Yet Russian Martian probes (not landers) detected both on Mars in amounts similar to what is seen on Earth.  Brandenburg asserts that this means these elements lie in a thin layer on the surface rather than in rocks below it. He indicates that radioactive potassium was also hyperactive on the Martian surface in a pattern that matched the thorium. This he believes means that some process had spread the thorium and uranium dust all over the planet, and this process also irradiated the potassium with neutrons in the same pattern. The major hot spot appeared to be burned as we would expect to see had there been a nuclear "airburst" over the site. On the opposite side of the planet (at the antipode) there was another radioactive hot spot that looked like the two halves of the shock wave had travelled around the planet to meet there. The similarities to an airburst mean that this explosion was probably not natural  (Note: it appears that by 2014 he had revised his idea about an antipode to a second nuclear explosion - see Figures 10 and 11).  That implies that we have more to worry about than those lichen-like green patches on Martian rocks seen by the Vikings before someone adjusted the color values for public consumption (in reference to the green patches see our article about Dr. Gilbert Levin). It means that long before our current civilization arose on Earth, there was a nasty intelligence at foot in our solar system who did not hesitate to nuke Mars into near oblivion. 

DATING THE INCIDENTS. The initial article quoted above staet. I suggested that the caves in the Arsia Mons volcano might work, and he agreed.  See Section 3 of my Report on Mars to learn more about the caves there. A picture of one of the caves is shown below.tes, "About 180 million years ago, a planet-shattering yet naturally occurring nuclear reaction may have wiped out everything on Mars, sending a shockwave that turned the planet into dry sand."  However, as Dr. Brandenburg makes clear in both his books about Mars, dating events on Mars can be difficult and is, in general, closely linked to cratering rates. As such, the recent findings about new craters seen on Mars is of interest.  If cratering rates are much higher than the 4X lunar rate, then the event age of  180 million year may be too young. See the article by Dr. Shane Byrne to understand just how a process that cratering on Mars is today. However, in speaking with Dr. Brandenburg, he made clear that he has more confidence in dating techniques that utilize radioisotopes. He believes that the face-like object at Cydonia is at least 180,000,000 years old too. He thinks this means that if intelligent life survived on Mars, it had to do so below the surface of the planet.

FLASH OBSERVED BY CLARK MCCLELLAND.  A controversial friend of ours, Clark McClelland, witnessed a flash on Mars, via the 13 inch Fitz-Clark refractor telescope at the Allegheny Observatory back in 1954.  He also sent us an article about Tsuneo Saheki of the Osaka Planetarium who was viewing a 5.3 inch disc of Mars through an 8 inch Newtonian telescope at 400 power (this article mentions Clark's observation too).  Saheki too claimed to see a a very small, extremely bright spot appear at 2100 Universal time on December 8, 1951. 

      While Clark thought he was witnessing a volcanic eruption in 1954, such an event would probably not be bright enough to see through a telescope, but an impact would be - if the impact were on the side of Mars facing the Earth.  If it were on the side facing away from Earth, then the incident would appear unexplained unless we had an orbiter at the right time and place.  There is an alternate theory out there based on observations by Thomas A. Dobbins that what Clark and others (Saheki on July 1, 1954; Ichiro Tasaka on November 21, 1958; and Dobbins on June 7 and 8, 2001) have seen at Edom Promontorium was a reflection off ice, but it doesn't offer us an explanation of plumes seen at great altitudes.  Clark argues for a volcanic eruption and against an asteroid impact because asteroids are not likely to hit the same spot repeatedly, but other areas have had similar flares too (Tithonius Lacas in 1951 and 1958, northeast of Solis Lacus in 1958, Northern Hellas in 1958; and the same times as for Edom Promontorium even though the two areas are not close).  The dual flares at 13:35 and 13:50 Universal Time on November 21, 1958 at both Edom Promontorium and Northern Hellsas constitute the best evidence for an asteroid impact.

       There was in Japan some speculation about a nuclear explosion or test on Mars as the U.S. had set off its biggest hydrogen bomb ever, a 15 megaton Bravo shot in the Castle series back in 1954.  However, there is no public knowledge of an American (or Russian) rocket that could carry such a warhead at that time (unless we were using a reconstructed version of what supposedly crashed near Roswell in 1947).  The world's first ICBM, the Russian R-7, did not fly until August 1957.  The largest bomb anyone ever tested on Earth was the Tsar Bomba.  That Russian blast on October 30, 1961, was equal to 58 megatons.  It sent out a shock wave that circled the Earth 3 times.  To watch the explosion click Tsar Bomba.

Are there nuclear explosion on Mars now, and if there are - are they natural or not? Our report, Mars Correct - Critique of All NASA Mars Weather Data, makes clear that NASA has been misleading the scientific community and the public on issues related to Martian meteorology since at least 1976. The data we have is, we believe, irrefutable, but the causes of the errors are questionable. Based on the discovery that the public was deceived about Vaisala pressure sensor range (0 to 1,025 hPa/mbar vs. 11.5 hPa/mbar) and about the true Mars sky color for 36 years, it seems likely that there is something improper going on, but we cannot completely rule out innocent human error yet. However, in this article we have examined various possible causes for plumes and flares seen on Mars. For each explanation it seems wise to ask a basic question. Would the Government want to cover this up? The answer is likely no for an asteroid impact, no for a volcano, possibly not for a natural nuclear event and definitely yes for a nuclear weapon.

       We are in the process of merging our findings with those of Marco de Marco and Matteo Fagone - and by extension, hopefully with the European Space Agency. Stay tuned for important discoveries and hopefully fantastic results with the upcoming ESA ExoMars 2020 probe. A screen shot of our partner's article about a possible volcano is shown below as Figure 12.

Figure 12 - The Planeta Marte.Net web site with link to Dr. David A. Roffman