Never mind budget cuts, technical glitches or any of the usual bugs that mess up missions to Mars. Did anyone check to see who owns the place? Anyone take out landing permits?
Those unlikely questions suddenly loomed as a problem for NASA -- at least for a short time, while three men from the nation of Yemen attempted to file a lawsuit against the U.S. space agency, saying no one got their permission to land on the Red Planet. That was a problem, they said, because they own it.
According to the Associated Press, the story was first reported in Yemen's weekly Al-Thawri news on Thursday, July 24, 1997
Al-Thawri said Adam Ismail, Mustafa Khalil and Abdullah al-Umari presented documents to Yemen's prosecutor general Mohammad al-Bady, which allegedly proved their claim.
"We inherited the planet from our ancestors who had lived on it 3,000 years ago," the Arabic-language paper quoted the men as saying in one of the documents.
So, NASA's Pathfinder and Sojourner spacecraft were trespassing.
"Sojourner and Pathfinder landed on Mars and began exploring it without informing us or seeking our approval," the men said. They demanded the immediate suspension of all operations on Mars until the court delivers a verdict.
They also requested that NASA refrain from disclosing any information pertaining to Mars' atmosphere, surface or gravity before receiving approval from them or until a verdict is reached.
However, the Reuters news agency stated that Yemen's prosecutor general was not very sympathetic to the lawsuit. Reuters said the men withdrew their case after they were threatened with arrest.
"The men are abnormal," al-Bady told Reuters. "We found out they were only seeking fame and publicity," he said.
Yemen's official news agency SABA quoted Mustapha Bahran, presidential consultant for scientific and technological affairs, as saying Fadl Salem al-Salem, a U.S. scientist of Yemeni origin, had contributed to the Pathfinder mission and findings on Mars.
Original file name: CNI - Mars.Yemenis Own
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