Aimé Michel

Le premier mystère est: pourquoi y a-t-il quelque chose plutôt que rien?
Et le deuxième, aussi grand que le premier: pourquoi suis-je là en train de penser?


Do flying saucers originate from Mars?

Flying Saucer Review Vol.6, N°2, March-April 1960


The author is one of the most distinguished names in the whole field of flying saucers. After advanced studies in philosophy and mathematics he graduated as a radio engineer in 1944. Apart from his spare-time projects he works for Radiodiffusion Française. He has written a work on acoustical engineering and two on flying saucers. The Truth About Flying Saucers was published in 1957 and more recently he wrote Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery, which has already been hailed as the most important work on the subject as it is the first demonstration by a scientist of proof of the UFO’s existence and purpose. Readers will be interested to see from our announcement on the inside cover that M. Michel’s second book is available in Britain.


The opposition of Mars in November, 1958, stands out in the history of astronomy as one of the most important discoveries of the human mind. Indeed, it was during this opposition that for the first time an official scientist was able to record during an experiment the existence of life on another planet.

First mystery: the Green Regions

When winter draws to a close in the southern hemisphere of Mars, the planet appears in the eye-piece of a powerful telescope as a small orange-coloured ball incorporating two white polar ice-caps. At this time, the higher of these ice-caps (that of the South Pole because in a telescope images appear upside down) is the larger. It covers an area of some 20 million square kilometres (roughly 9 million square miles), while the other is only about 100 kilometres (approximately 47 miles) in diameter.

As time goes on, the white ice-cap shrinks, at first slowly, then gradually faster. Towards the middle of spring cracks appear splitting the ice-cap into sections. As the ice-cap disintegrates, it presents regions of different brightness, after which it rapidly breaks up.

But while the polar ice-cap is shrinking a different phenomenon occurs spreading from the pole to the equator and beyond: the extension and darkening of the Green Patches. What are these patches? At first sight, they appear to be vast areas projecting against the orange background of Mars’s fixed configurations similar to our continents or seas.

At the end of the winter, these patches are pale, greyish, and all but colourless. When the polar ice-cap begins to shrink, a mass of darkness seems to move off the periphery of the white patch. In the following weeks this mass or wave can be seen gradually submerging all the Green Regions and proceeding step by step from the pole to the equator at a more or less steady speed. According to Gerard de Vaucouleurs the speed is about 45 kilometres (i.e. roughly 22 miles) a day, or 0.50 metre (i.e. half a yard) per second.

The water on Mars

Towards the end of summer, this wave will have travelled 6,000 kilometres (i.e. some 2,800 miles) in 130 days. At that time (observation permitting) the dark patches provide a striking contrast to the general reddish colour of Mars. Furthermore, these patches always keep more or less the some shape. They can be seen on maps of Mars such as those drawn at the Pic du Midi Observatory, in the Pyrenees, by the late Antoniadi, and, more recently, by Dr J. Focas.

It has long been known that the polar ice-caps of Mars are made up of frozen water, presumably rime. It is also known that the pressure of the atmosphere at ground level being what it is, there can be no water in a liquid state on Mars. When the ice-cap “melts” on the return of spring, it does not actually melt away: it sublimates by passing directly from a solid into a gaseous state.

Gerard de Vaucouleurs has calculated the theoretical speed of the diffusion of steam from water in the Martian atmosphere. He found it to be more or less 45 kilometres (i.e. 22 miles) a day. It does, therefore, seem evident that the wave of darkness is related to the diffusion in the spring of steam from water, all the way from the Martian pole to the equator.

All this gives one much to think about. Indeed, what exactly are these dark regions which, thanks to the effect of water, come to life anew in the spring? Do they not suggest some tremendous biological phenomenon? Are we not very much inclined to think that there is life in those dark patches?

William Sinton’s experiment

Emmanuel Kant has gone on record as saying: “merely to believe is to ignore.” The same is true of science. To claim that human life on Mars is possible is not enough: one must also provide the evidence. That, of course, has always been the view of the astronomers. But it was the American, William Sinton, who succeeded in carrying out one of the most remarkable experiments in the history of astronomy.

Sinton, who was working at the time at Harvard Observatory, reasoned as follows. When the light given off by a luminous substance is caught in a spectroscope, the result is a series of lines each of which characterises a known chemical substance. Sodium, for example, is revealed by the emergence of two well-known lines in the yellow colour.

In some cases, the chemical link-up between different substances also results in the appearance of lines. The astronomer was, therefore, faced with two problems: (a) he had to investigate whether the chemical substance of life reveals itself in a spectrum in the form of one, or several characteristic lines; (b) if one, or several, of these lines exist can they also be found in the spectrum of Mars?

As regards the first question, Sinton had already succeeded, in 1955, in isolating two infra-red lines representing the CH link-up of the organic chemical content — itself the product of the carbon cycle. These lines had a wavelength of respectively 3.41 and 3.51 microns. Furthermore, they are lines projected by all organic substances of the biology we know on our own planet. In point of fact, these lines are only to be found in such substances. Their presence in a spectrum thus proves that there is life there.

 Existence of life proved

Now for the second question. Sinton began by taking a series of pictures of Mars in infra-red

at Harvard Observatory. These pictures were far from clear. Yet it was possible to assume the presence of the 3.41 wavelength. Although his experiment had proved only partially successful, Sinton took his electronic spectroscope to Palomar during the opposition of November 1958. This time the results were truly sensational.

Indeed, not only did he succeed in detecting, some thirty times, with perfect clarity both the 3.41 and 3.51 wavelengths — thus being able to prove once and for all and with irrefutable evidence that life on Mars does exist and is base on the carbon cycle — but he also discovered a third band in the infra-red section, situated towards 3.67 microns. This he was unable at first to identify. But it was safe to assume that this band, too, represented a chemical link-up[1].

What was there behind this 3.67 line? The mystery was finally solved a few weeks ago and that in a manner which dispels all doubts as to the possibility of life on Mars. This identification came about as follows. By systematic study of the organic spectrum in the hoping of locating this elusive line, it was finally discovered in the spectrum of a species of sea-weed called “Cladophora”; a species to be found along the Channel coast of Europe.

However, all that still left part of the question unanswered. What was the chemical content of this seaweed and why does it contain a 3.67 wavelength? More research followed and in the end the missing link was found to be — a lump of sugar! This lump was examined under a spectroscope and it was established beyond any doubt that this indeed was the vital clue. For there is sugar in the Green Regions of Mars.

I said earlier on that Sinton’s discovery was nothing short of sensational. Surely this is no over-statement considering that within the space of a few months this American astronomer proved that there is life on Mars and further established the close connection existing between life on Mars and life on Earth.

Of course, it would be wrong to assume that Mars is full of cladophora! This species of seaweed exists only in surroundings containing water of which there is no equivalent on Mars. What’s more, this type of seaweed cannot account for the progression taking place in the desert regions at the rate of 45 kilometres a day (i.e. about 22 miles). As is known, the Red Regions of Mars are dust deserts. True, it has been established, thanks to a type of seaweed called cladophora, that there is sugar in the dark regions of Mars. But the fact remains that this was a purely fortuitous discovery which should be treated as such.

Those famous canals

Now that we know that there is life in the dark regions of Mars, we must re-examine all that has been written about them: all those reports which observers have patiently compiled over the past 75 years. To begin with, there are the famous canals which — as we now know — are no channels but alignments of a green colour in which there is life. Such alignments are liable to variations which can be observed from year to year, or, to be more precise, every two years since oppositions only take place about every two years. These variations are amazing and inexplicable. Here is an example.

In 1909, Antoniadi reported the emergence on Mars in the centre of the Elysium desert (at 240 degrees longitude and 10 degrees latitude north), due north of Mare Cimmerum, a small green patch — an “oasis”. In 1939, that is, thirty years later, the patch had vanished but the astronomers found that two outlines of channels had appeared at the northern and southern edges of the desert: at Cyclopia and Amenthes. The two channels grew longer during subsequent oppositions. In 1959, observers were amazed to discover that they had joined up after crossing 3,000 to 4,000 kilometres (i.e. 1,000 to 1,500 miles) of desert in a straight line. Further, they had joined up at exactly the same spot where Antoniadi had found his “oasis” fifty years earlier, as though they knew where they were going.

Third mystery: the satellites

How is one to account for this extraordinary phenomenon which developed for half a century over hundreds of miles with a touch of finality about it? As it happens, I am in a position to state that many of the world’s leading authorities on Mars have asked themselves whether this phenomenon could be a demonstration of some mental activity; a proof of brain power, or, possibly, of some industrial development. Of course, none of them has so far admitted as much in writing. One cannot commit such thoughts to paper unless there is evidence to hand.

Since the recent Astronomical Conference in London, where a paper was read by the Soviet astro-physicist, Shklovsky, it is by now common knowledge that there is also a mystery of the satellites. I don’t intend to revert to this matter. However, it is necessary to point out that Shklovsky’ s theory on the slowing down of Phobos (which he attributes to an artificial satellite) is the only one so far to have been put forward. Some astronomers made fun of him. Yet none has hitherto produced a different explanation. That is not at all surprising. Why?

The answer is simple enough: because there is no other explanation. Why indeed should there be a slowing down in the movement of Phobos when there is none in Deimos which looks like its twin brother? What difference is there between them, if any? To all appearances, the difference is only one of position, their respective sizes being appreciably the same.

Yet as a result of this difference, Phobos being the nearer is exposed to the resistance of the limits of the Martian atmosphere. That atmosphere is exceedingly thin and to have any effect Phobos would have to be very light — in fact, so light as to be hollow. But there is no such thing as a hollow heavenly body: not unless it happens to be an artificial one. That in short is the situation and there is no getting away from it.

If it be true that there is a brain power — or a brain — on Mars capable of building canals more than 1,000 miles long, and, perhaps, of launching satellites of 75 kilometres (about 40 miles) in diameter, such as Phobos and Deimos, weighing several hundred million tons, could it not be possible that the same brain has also sent rockets to the planet nearest to Mars — to our own planet?

If the so-called “canals” of Cyclopia and Amenthes are really what they appear to be, if Shklovsky is right is affirming that the two satellites of Mars are in fact artificial satellites, then it can be said without much fear of contradiction that the flying saucers (or, at least, some of them) originate from Mars.

At any rate, that is how matters stand. Perhaps those astronomers who believe least in flying saucers will be the first to prove their existence, and reveal their origin. This is no far-fetched assumption for in a few years hence manned rockets will be fired to take close-ups of Phobos and Deimos. It is quite possible that this will take place in a year’s time under cover of the next opposition.

Shall I conclude by revealing my innermost thoughts? Well, I wish the flying saucers do come fro Mars. For this almost our only hope of solving the mystery that now surrounds them.

Aimé Michel


(1) A full account of this experiment was published in Lowell Observatory Bulletin N°103, Vol. IV, N°15, September 25, 1959.