A 50 years journey of decoding


December 25, 2022


This brief message, which former NASA administrator George Low named ‘The Martian Cipher’, was intercepted in 1969. It took the space agency almost 50 years to decode it.

This deciphering is arguably one of the greatest intellectual feats in human history, something even more challenging than the cracking of the Enigma code and even more significant than the deciphering of the Indus Script – the latter discovery also not made public for some political reasons.

This message was allegedly transmitted to Mars from some invisible UFO in the orbit of the Earth on Thursday, September 4, 1969 at 11:34 am UTC.

This piece of communication reveals the shocking presence of a Martian outpost on or close to the Earth – an outpost observing the people of this planet, maybe even for a century.

It shows that at least a section of the intelligentsia from that blood-red planet is familiar not only with the cultures and history of the human race but also with its intellectual and artistic endeavors.

It appears that while the Martians may turn up their noses at our scientific knowledge, they are positively in awe of our arts – a fact as evidenced by their use of allusions from world literature.

It seems that the Martians, possibly due to their single-minded focus on technology, ignored a need for artistic expression for a long time and now they have finally found solace in our artistic creations.

However, what baffles many scientists is the fact that NASA has not intercepted another such message since 1969. This leads some experts to suggest that the Martians deliberately ‘leaked’ the text to ‘show off’ their knowledge about human civilization.

The aliens probably also wanted to communicate to us how they view their proverbial ‘next door neighbor’ as the entire message describes the human race, in a rather pretentious and quasi-poetic manner, they argue.

Some of our scientists, however, believe that this message may be aimed at misguiding humans by creating a false ‘softer image’ for an otherwise brutal alien force, the danger of whose sudden invasion of the Earth – they warn – may be looming large.

A few of our scientists also advise us against setting great store by this cipher.

They highlight the possibility of an elaborate scientific hoax conceived by some key officials in the Brezhnev administration with a view to keep our best minds busy in the futile exercise of unraveling a meaningless riddle.

Margaret Galland Kivelson, a distinguished planetary scientist formerly associated with NASA, even claims that the Russians possibly ‘concocted this story’ to ‘exact a revenge’ on the US after it defeated the Soviets in the space race by landing on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

Interestingly, Professor Irwin Weil, a teacher of Slavic languages and literature at Illinois’s Northwestern University, highlights a number of similarities between the text and an unpublished poem of Lev Kopelev, a Soviet writer, whose citizenship was revoked in 1980.

Stephen Jay Greenblatt, a literary critic with whom the cipher was also shared, insists that the text is ‘definitely not’ penned by a man of science, ‘who tends to stick to facts rather than making sweeping generalizations’. Greenblatt regards it as the creation of a ‘second-class romantic writer’.

A majority of our scientists, however, reject the scientific hoax theory for a number of reasons including the fact that no Soviet satellite was present at the location from where the message originated on September 4, 1969 at 11:34 am UTC.

These scientists are using this text to develop a profile of the people of the neighboring planet.

The Martians are apparently not only far superior to humans in their technology but are also far bigger and heavier than us physically, if we go by the text which is presented below.

We are also providing annotations to give a context to the Senate subcommittee members not well-versed in planetary science and eastern history and literature.

Original Text of the Cipher:

“A denizen of the solar suburb[1] , man is a bipedal animal roughly half the size of a Martian. Its average weight is equal to the weight of our ten-year-old child.

“However, his size and proportions are deceptive.

“In his thoughts and feelings, he sometimes grows taller than our Olympus Mons[2] but the fickle animal also has the capacity to stoop to a level much lower than the Hellas Planitia [3] .

“His mind is like the gigantic court of Afrasiyab[4] where both Attar[5] and De Sade dance, often unbeknown to one another.

“He can simultaneously yearn for immortality and eternal death; suffering and salvation; heaven and hell. He often tries to simultaneously explore both the valleys of darkness and the realms of light.

“The one who kills a child for fun and the one who sacrifices his life for a child lives inside him at the same time. The one who eats the rotting remains of his classmate to satisfy his envy [6] and the one who carves his own flesh to satisfy the hunger of a starving wolf [7]live inside him side by side.

“Inside him live both Christ and Caligula; Moses and Pharaoh; Ram and Rawan[8].

“His heart is sometimes smaller than half a penny but at times entire galaxies disappear into its vastness.

“Man – a prodigy of paradoxes, a confluence of contradictions – is unfathomable.”


[1] The Earth, which the Martian regard as backward

[2] The largest and highest known mountain of the Mars as well as the Solar System, Olympus Mons is three times higher than the Earth’s Mount Everest

[3] The largest visible impact crater in the Solar System. A giant depression with a floor over seven kilometres below the Martian surface

[4] The antagonist of Urdu’s longest epic Tilism-e-Hoshruba

[5] Fariduddin Attar, a thirteenth century mystic poet from Persia

[6] Apparently a reference to Issei Sagawa, a Japanese psychopath

[7] Apparently a reference to Hatim Tai, who in Persian dastaan Haft Sayr gives a piece of his flesh to a starving wolf so that the animal may spare the life of a mother doe

[8] Respectively, the protagonist and the antagonist of Indian epic Ramayana

(DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction. Any names or characters, businesses or places, events or incidents, are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.)


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