Mars has long fascinated humans because of its proximity to our own planet and its similarities with Earth.
Some are convinced that life could have existed on the planet, which is the second smallest in our solar system and fourth from the Sun.
One who held such a belief is Dr Hugh Mansfield Robinson, who took an extraordinary step on October 27, 1926 when he sent a message to the Red Planet.
First ‘contact’ with Martians
Dr Robinson, a former Town Clerk of Shoreditch and a Doctor of Laws, claimed he was an interplanetary psychic and that he’d been in contact with Martians – more specifically, a six-foot, big-eared Martian lady called Oomaruru.
He also claimed that his astral body had already visited Mars before, first in 1918.
The ‘intensely religious' beings on the planet apparently had “large ears sticking out on each side of the head, a huge shock of hair massed high, and a Chinese cast of features”. Men were said to be seven to eight feet tall, while women were over six foot in height.
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Sending a telegraph: Opesti nipitia secomba
In 1926 astronomers were getting ready to study Mars better than ever before, because the planet was eight million miles closer to Earth than usual, but Dr Robinson had other plans.
He wanted to send out a telegraph to the planet which, apparently written in Martian, read “Opesti nipitia secomba”.
Dr Robinson went to the Post Office at St Paul’s, where the telegraph operator relayed his message to a transmitter at Rugby. The message was sent at a wavelength of 18,240 metres and cost him 18 pence per word. He claimed that Martians preferred to reply at 30,000 metres, so receivers listened out on this wavelength, but sadly they detected no response. However, Dr Robinson refused to give up.
“Mar la oi da earth. Com ga Mar”
“Love to Mars from Earth. God is love,” was the contents of Dr Robinson’s second message, which he sent out two years later.
Unfortunately, there was still no response, which he put down to Mars’ ‘layers of rarified air’.
By this point, Dr Robinson had become the target of cynicism in the newspapers and even from his own wife.
“I don't know anything about this Mars affair,” she said. “I have refused to have the experiments conducted in this house while I remain in it. I don't know whether anyone encouraged my husband but there will be no more of that foolishness in this house.”