For countless centuries, Mars, the mysterious Red Planet, has held a certain fascination, and at the same time, a sense of fear and dread for the human race. It is only in recent history that we have been able to act on that fear and curiosity, and attempt to explore the surface of Mars.
Yet, to date, most of those attempts have ended in dismal failure. Has the difficulty in landing a probe on Mars been the result of mechanical failures, human error, or something far more insidious known as the “Mars Curse,” or the “Great Galactic Ghoul?”
What Is the Great Galactic Ghoul?
The term “Galactic Ghoul” or “Great Galactic Ghoul”, was first coined in 1997 by Time Magazine journalist Donald Neff, referring to what at the time was his description of a fictitious space monster that Neff said subsisted on a “diet of Mars probes,” to explain the recurring difficulties of NASA’s many Mars missions.
As such difficulties have continued into and through the 21st Century, many believe that the “Ghoul” may not be so “fictitious” after all, and wonder if there is indeed some kind of “otherworldly” force or beings, protecting the fabled Red Planet.
Just how hungry is the alleged “ghoul?” Statistically, barely one-third of all of the missions sent to Mars by both the US and Russia — the only other nation to make multiple attempts to probe Mars — have actually been successful. Scientists can’t fully understand why the other two thirds have failed. To NASA and the former Soviet Union, this goes beyond all expected mission failure due to the usual and predictable causes. While it is normal for Mission Controllers to expect at least some failure in endeavors as complicated as space travel, the sheer volume of unsuccessful launches is cause for more than a little concern.
Who or What Is Protecting Mars?
Just who or what seems to be protecting Mars, and more importantly, what is it that they or it, do not want us to see? This is what proponents of the Great Galactic Ghoul theory believe.
Here is the thing, not all of the missions to Mars have been unsuccessful. But, for Galactic Ghoul believers, the probes that made it, only deepened the mystery, and do not debunk it. The probes that have successfully orbited, and more recently, landed on Mars, have beamed back to earth pictures of a whole host of features and formations that seem to defy explanation. The Cydonia region is a mystery all of its own. Mars landers have sent back images of Sphinx-like statues, pyramids, apparent life forms, fossils and even unknown lights from that area.
It isn’t just Russia and the US who have had trouble reaching our nearest planetary neighbor. In 1998, a new nation tried their luck with a probe. However, they too had a failed Mars mission. The Japanese probe, Nozomi, was lost when fuel problems contributed to the probe’s failure to insert into Mars orbit properly. To date, this marked the beginning and end of Japan’s efforts to study the Red Planet.
The list of failed missions is lengthy and stretches across decades. One of the most famous of these, that seemed to have been evidence of interference by “the Ghoul,” was NASAs Mars Observer launched in 1993. When the probe was just 3 days from arriving, it ceased all transmissions. Officially, the propulsion system sprung a leak and the probe spun out of control as a result. However, no one really knows why the probe “went dark.”
In 2004, NASA managed to land its robotic rover Opportunity on the surface of Mars, where it performed admirably for years before suddenly losing communication in 2018 after a dust storm. Mission Control figured the blackout was due to interference by the storm, and expected that communication with the rover would return when the storm passed. It never did. Did Opportunity see something it was not supposed to, and the
refore had its “eyes” shut purposely?
The Great Galactic Ghoul may have started out as a joke, but given that some failed probes have completely disappeared without a trace, indicates that there certainly could be something more at play here that could be attributed to systems’ failure or human error.
The next logical step in our efforts to shed light on the mysteries enshrouding the Red Planet is to send astronauts there. A manned mission to Mars will likely be mounted within the next 10 to 12 years. Let’s hope and pray, that someone, or something, “ghoulish” is not waiting for them when they arrive.