Lost Mars Lander
NASA has just failed in its third consecutive attempt to gain information by sending a spacecraft to visit our neighboring planet, and the whole space exploration program is being reevaluated. One good feature in the space program, and many other scientific efforts, is the precision of the data which is available to the public and especially valued by astrologers. Mark Pottenger provided me with the exact latitude and longitude coordinates of 26 sites (called complexes) at Cape Canaveral, FL. The Mars Polar Lander was launched from Complex 17 on January 3, 1999 at 15:21:10 EST. All appeared to be well until the spacecraft entered the atmosphere of Mars. It was scheduled to land and communicate to earth on December 3, 1999 at 12:39 P.M. PST. The scientists gathered at CalTech in Pasadena, CA heard only silence. By December 8, they had tried all their back-up techniques, but heard nothing from the Polar Lander or from the two small probes which rode with the Lander but were to separate and send back their own information. Can astrology provide any insights into what went wrong?
We can do charts for a variety of locations; for the original launch of the spacecraft from Cape Canaveral, for our capital, Washington, DC, which will decide the fate of future space ventures, for Pasadena, CA, the scientific center which directed the spacecraft and probes and expected to communicate with them, and for Houston, TX, a center for NASA activity. The chart for the time the Polar Lander should have communicated if it had functioned properly can also be calculated for the same four locations, with precedence given to Pasadena in this case, as it was to be the director and interpreter of the Lander.
As usual, when testing the validity of the extra asteroids, we look for those with appropriate names. In charts related to space activity, relevant asteroids would include Spacewatch, Interkosmos, and Astronomia. There are two asteroids named for the city in California most centrally involved: Pasadena and Pasacentennium for the 100th centennial of the city. CalTech was named for the university in Pasadena which has been playing a major role in our space efforts. We also have asteroids named San Diego, which contributed a high tech camera to the project, Houston, Washingtonia, California, and America. Computers are heavily involved in such projects, and we have the asteroids ASCII and The NORC, with Eudora another possibility. Tyr is the Norse name for Mars. Photographica should be prominent. Both verbal communication and pictures were primary goals. Since the spacecraft appear to have been destroyed, we will check the death goddesses, and the asteroids named for overreaching and crashing: Icarus, Phaethon, Bellerophon, and perhaps Hybris, though the last is less specifically associated with falling and crashing to death. Themis and Nemesis are often featured in disaster charts. Hestia and Vesta are the Greek and Roman names for Virgo goddesses pointing to efficient functioning or a need for it. Several asteroids named for famous reporters or news agencies could be aspected, including Reuters and Murrow. In the ancient world, Urania carried some of the same associations as Uranus: innovative science, but also the possibility of sudden changes and challenges. Then, we can just look at any strongly aspected asteroids which might provide relevant information.
For astrologers who want to start with the “standard” planets plus the lunar nodes, the chart angles, and the first four asteroids and Chiron, the chart for the launch has the grand cross in fixed signs which is the theme throughout 1998 to 2000. The MC is just past the south lunar node, opposite Vesta and the north node, with Ceres and the East Point in Taurus and Juno and Chiron in Scorpio to complete the cross. The Antivertex, the Moon, and Neptune and Uranus form a T-square in earlier degrees of the fixed signs, with all of these except the MC in mutable houses. The fixed dilemma calls for us to integrate personal desires and power with the desires and power of others; hopefully, to achieve mutual pleasure. The mutable dilemma deals with knowledge, calling for clear priorities and the integration of ideals with what is possible in a physical world.
Saturn squares Venus, with Pluto octile the latter and trioctile the former. Pluto also opposes the Ascendant, while the Sun is quincunx it and octile/trioctile the Taurus-Scorpio oppositions. Mercury squares a Pallas-Jupiter conjunction and is closely octile Uranus. Mars is sextile/trine the lunar nodes and Vesta and quincunx Pallas-Jupiter. There are obviously plenty of conflict aspects in this list, though Mercury is also closely trine Saturn, with Vesta and the north node completing a grand fire trine, Uranus is closely trine the Ascendant, and Neptune is sextile/trine the Taurus-Scorpio oppositions, so I would not have assumed that failure was inevitable if I had looked at the chart before the Lander’s disappearance. All horoscopes have mixed aspects. They show life issues, but many details are possible. We can talk about a power struggle with conflict aspects involving fixed and cardinal parts of life, and about conflict between ideals/goals/knowledge versus practical limits and priorities in the physical world for the mutable sides of life, but success is possible when we manage effective compromises. The space program is struggling with financial and time limits, trying to be faster, cheaper, and better. They managed the first two, but not the last.
What additional information is provided by the extra asteroids, and can they suggest the fate of the spacecraft? The asteroid Spacewatch was named for a program and the telescope used in it to search for minor planets and comets. Would you believe that the Mars Polar Lander was launched with Spacewatch conjunct the Ascendant within two minutes of longitude? Remember, this chart was calculated with the data for latitude, longitude, and time to the second. The asteroid Interkosmos was named for the Eastern European organization devoted to space exploration. The Lander was launched with Interkosmos conjunct the Sun within 6 minutes of longitude. The quincunx between the Ascendant-Spacewatch and the Sun-Interkosmos shows a new direction is likely as a result of this event. The current reevaluation of the space program could lead to delays and/or reduced activities or to increased success through more knowledge, or even to increased commitment and funding for the space program. The quincunx signals analysis and changes. When handled well, the analysis can lead to positive changes.
The spacecraft was lost just eleven months after its launch, and even though this is less than one day in the sky when using secondary progressions, some of the progressed positions produced tighter aspects which were meaningful. Pasadena in 26 Taurus held its opposition to Juno and the P MC moved to 26 Aquarius to tighten the grand cross which the P IC completed. Juno, the IC, Pluto, and its sign can signify endings. Pasadena also formed a yod, a double quincunx, to California in 26 Libra and to P Mercury, N Photographica, and N Pasacentennium in 26-27 Sagittarius, repeating the message of new directions. Atropos, a death goddess, retrograded just enough in 27 Leo to reach a square to Pasadena and it was also square Juno within the one-degree orb I use for the new asteroids. Saturn maintained an opposition to California. Astronomia was conjunct Uranus in 11 Aquarius and square Hestia in 12 Taurus, a key to competence and dedication or problems with them. It also had octiles or trioctiles from Photographica, Pasacentennium, and P Mercury. CalTech, the Pasadena university centrally involved in the space program, was in 14 Taurus, producing another yod to Klotho (one of the Greek Fates) in 14 Libra, and to Dresden (the death of innocent victims) and Dike (human justice) in 14 Sagittarius.
In addition to Pluto’s wide opposition to the Ascendant it was closely conjunct Hela, a death goddess, the south node of Mars, and Ate, a goddess of evil. Hel, a different asteroid named for the same death goddess, was in 15 Virgo, trioctile Neptune and P Venus. Libitina, the Roman death goddess, was in 21 Aries trine Vesta and the north lunar node, but quincunx Urania in 21 Scorpio and square Eudora in 22 Cancer. Eudora was also quincunx Houston and the true south lunar node in Aquarius. The P Sun and P Interkosmos opposed ASCII, and the P Moon had just ended an opposition to The NORC, but it was still in orb to Prudentia and Poseidon (the Greek Neptune), which were in 17 Aquarius, while San Diego in 3 Aries formed octiles or trioctiles to the collection. The involvement of the computer asteroids could fit either a hardware or software problem. Mars has been less featured in the preceding aspects, but a cluster of asteroids in 19-20 Capricorn squared it: Bacchus, hinting as some kind of extremism, America, and Tyr, the Norse equivalent of Mars. Industria in 20 Cancer produced a cardinal T-square, and Libitina in 21 Aries was connected with overlapping orbs. There are always more which could be mentioned, but we will just include a cluster of asteroids strung across the 8th house cusp from 4 to 6 Capricorn: Themis, Reuters, Bellona, and Nemesis, with Icarus just past them in 8 Capricorn. They formed octiles or trioctiles to the Leo-Aquarius oppositions of the lunar nodes, Houston in Aquarius, and Hybris, Aeternitas (immortality), and Vesta in 20-21 Leo.
Long before I had access to the multiplying numbers of asteroids, I was working with the nodes of all the planets and the midpoints of the different astrological factors. In light of the mystery surrounding the Lander’s disappearance, it is appropriate that the south node of Neptune was on Uranus within 15 minutes of longitude. Since a crash ending for the Lander seems likely, the conjunction of the south node of Mars with Pluto and Ate within one degree is also appropriate. The north node of Uranus was on the Ascendant within less than a half degree to repeat the message of the launch; action involving new technology in pursuit of knowledge.
There were also relevant midpoints in the chart. To find aspects to the P Moon in 18 Leo when the Lander disappeared, we need to go beyond the limited traditional factors. It was quincunx the MC in Houston, repeating the theme of analysis and consequent changes by the space authorities. It had positive aspects trine the Ascendant/MC midpoint and sextile Washingtonia, but the opposition between the asteroid and the midpoint fits the separation of our capital from the launch. The midpoint between the two angles carries the meaning of both in that spot, so it is equivalent to an opposition of the asteroid to both angles. When the Lander disappeared, the P MC/Ascendant had moved to oppose Mars. The P Moon was also opposite the midpoints of MC/Uranus and Sun/Jupiter, keys to lost power and knowledge. It’s square to Pele in 18 Scorpio, the goddess of volcanoes and earthquakes, and might be stretching our search for meaning, unless we find out some day that the Lander hit the side of an extinct volcano and ended as demolished as if it had been in an earthquake. Or maybe it is the space program which will be impacted as if it had been in an earthquake or a volcanic eruption. Finally, as our readers know, I see the midpoints of Saturn and the lunar nodes as important keys to areas of lessons. In the launch chart, these midpoints were in 24 to 25 Gemini and Pisces, forming a T-square with Mercury.
Turning to the chart when the Lander failed to communicate and presumably crashed, there are two relevant asteroids on the MC, Belisana (war goddess) and Tantalus, which signifies something desired which is out of reach. They squared the Antivertex, an auxiliary Ascendant, and the Part of Death, which was conjunct it in 25 Pisces. Juno, another Pluto, was just past them, conjunct Icarus and square Astronomia in 28 Pisces. Ceres formed a T-square to the Antivertex and the Part of Death from 26 Virgo. To drive home the message that changes were inevitable, Makover was on the Ascendant within 5 minutes of longitude.
As usual, there were mixed aspects, including quite a few sextiles and trines, but the rising Pisces fits the mystery surrounding the situation, and the conflict aspects between Sagittarius and Pisces signify the tension around goals and ideals. One way to describe the conflict between letters nine and twelve is as head goals versus heart goals. The high aspirations were also shown in the chart by the Sun closely conjunct Pluto in Sagittarius, and their octiles to Venus and Moon in Libra, trioctiles to Jupiter, and quincunxes to Saturn fit the disappointment of those goals. Unlike the preceding failed Mars spacecraft, it is not likely to be easy to uncover the facts for this failure. Aletheia and Veritas are both associated with truth. Veritas in 9 Gemini opposed Pluto, and Aletheia in 9 Taurus was quincunx it. Chiron, as another Jupiter, can also symbolize the search for knowledge, truth, ideals, etc. It opposed America in 7 Gemini. More knowledge was a primary goal, more was needed for success, and more will be gained eventually with patience and persistence in the quest. For yet another reinforcement of the mutable conflict between different values and goals, and hinting at its disastrous consequences, Bellerophon (who overreached and crashed) was conjunct Hel in 2 Sagittarius, square Nemesis in 2 Pisces.
Repeating the emphasis on both the goals of the space program and the theme of analysis leading to changes, the two space asteroids formed a yod with asteroids of knowledge. Spacewatch in 29 Cancer was quincunx Sapientia (wisdom) in 29 Sagittarius and Gaea (earth) in 0 Capricorn, with the latter two sextile Interkosmos in 28 Aquarius and Sophia (wisdom) and Photographica in 29 Aquarius. Tyr, the Norse Mars, was in 15 Taurus in a grand cross opposite Atropos (death) and Washingtonia, square Libitina (death), CalTech, and Pallas in Leo, and Utopia in Aquarius, with Uranus within one degree of Utopia to join the pattern. Also connected to the network of aspects, Tyr was trioctile Gaea and octile Photographica and Sophia. The death of the spacecraft could be due to a computer problem, as suggested in the launch chart. The NORC was conjunct Hela in 3 Aries. Hestia (the Greek Vesta), ASCII, and Eudora were grouped in 12 to 13 Virgo, with Hestia square to the Sun and the others octile the Moon and Venus.
We have not mentioned the “star” planet in this chart – Mars, the goal of the effort. Its conjunction to the south lunar node showed a major lesson, and its octile to the Ascendant is similar in meaning to being in conflict with itself, signifying the danger of self-blocking. When carried to an extreme, this can mean self-destruction. The south node on the Ascendant/MC midpoint extended the south node lesson to both of the major angles of the chart: to the personal desire and power of letter one and the limits of personal power of letter ten in our astrological alphabet. Additional conflict involving fixed signs was shown by Vesta (Virgo competence or a need for it) on Mercury (intellect) square Pasacentennium in 21 Aquarius for the city where the scientists waited in vain, and quincunx Phaethon in 21 Aries. Houston in 22 Taurus was just out of orb. Finally, to bring in the other asteroid for the city which waited in vain, Pasadena and San Diego were in 12 Libra, trioctile Interkosmos and with San Diego in orb of a quincunx to Saturn. Often, failure teaches us more than success. I am confident that the space program will go on learning.