January 7th, 2004
KATHY REYNOLDS: Hold on Tom, we've got breaking news! This just in: federal officials have quarantined an area one mile across centered on the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Pacific Avenue in Venice Beach, California. We don't have much information at this point, but early eye witness accounts are claiming that some sort of metallic object fell from the sky and landed in the middle of the street.
January 8th, 2004
TOM HARRIS: What we're showing you now are photographs of the so-called Venice Alien Space Probe taken by tourists who were on the Venice Boardwalk when the object landed. On the right of this photo you can see a pile of what appears to be orange parachute material, somewhat hidden behind the man in the blue hat. The next photo shows several children climbing on the object, and some flashing lights can be seen behind the girl on the left. Here's a family posing in front of the object, and here's a picture of an apparent vandal trying to break off a piece of the object for a souvenir.
REYNOLDS: Federal authorities showed up soon after, as well as scientists from UCLA, Caltech, and JPL who are investigating the object as we speak. The government isn't releasing much information yet, but Professor Kelly Davis is here from the UCLA astronomy department to tell us what she can about what the scientists have discovered. Dr. Davis, welcome, I think the whole world wants to know what kind of progress you're making with VASP.
DR. KELLY DAVIS, UCLA ASTRONOMER: Well, actually, we're not calling it "VASP". At this point we're not really sure what we're dealing with. I can tell you that the object isn't radioactive, and doesn't appear to pose an immediate threat to the surrounding city.
HARRIS: What about the vandalism, Dr. Davis? Does the probe appear to be damaged?
DAVIS: Again, I don't think it's any sort of space probe. Most likely it’s the remnant of a weather balloon or some other sort of high atmosphere test device. We're not sure where it's from yet, but I'm sure the government is looking into all the possibilities.
HARRIS: If it's not a space probe, why is the astronomy department of UCLA getting involved?
DAVIS: I can't answer that sort of question at the moment. We're always happy to assist the government whenever they call on us.
REYNOLDS: What about the vandalism and the tourists? Was the “object“ damaged?
DAVIS: At this point, there's no way to know. We're examining photographs of the object to determine whether or not it's moved or been altered since it landed. We're also hoping to locate pictures of the actual decent and landing.
REYNOLDS: What would happen if Martian kids climbed all over our Spirit Mars probe?
DAVIS: It wouldn't be good. Fortunately, there are no kids on Mars.
HARRIS: Is the object doing anything right now? Is it just sitting there?
DAVIS: I'm sorry, I can't answer that.
HARRIS: Do you know when residents will be allowed to return to their homes? Is there anything else you can tell us?
DAVIS: We're confident the object doesn't pose a danger to anyone, but those sorts of questions should be directed to the federal government.
REYNOLDS: Thanks, Professor Davis. Coming up next....
January 9th, 2004
REYNOLDS: The government still has a large portion of Venice Beach sealed off due to the Venice Alien Space Probe. Officials tell us the VASP isn't doing anything other than transmitting radio signals into space, and scientists are working to determine the destination of those signals.
January 16th, 2004
REYNOLDS: The government attempted to move the Venice Alien Space Probe to a secure location this afternoon, but efforts were thwarted when the probe began moving on its own. Professor Kelly Davis is with us from UCLA;. hello Professor Davis, what can you tell us?
DAVIS: Hi Kathy. Contrary to what you may have heard, no one tried to move the object this afternoon.
REYNOLDS: We have photographs of federal officers moving a large crane into position over the probe....
DAVIS: I'm not sure what “probe“ you're referring to, but the object in question is still exactly where it landed.
HARRIS: So reports that it is moving under its own power are false as well?
DAVIS: Yes, but what did happen is really amazing. A door on the side of the object opened and a small rover of some sort rolled down the ramp and started heading for the ocean at the rate of about five feet per minute. The rover took a little over an hour to reach the water, scooped up a sample, and then returned to the mother-object.
REYNOLDS: Amazing! We haven't heard that from anyone else. Will there be any pictures released? What else can you tell us about this rover?
DAVIS: I don't know much else at this point, other than that we were forced to relocate a lot of our equipment out of the rover's path.
HARRIS: You didn't want to interfere with its mission, whatever that was?
DAVIS: I suppose you could say that.
HARRIS: Dr. Davis, do you have any more information on where the probe is from?
DAVIS: As I've said, it's most likely that the object is some sort of high-altitude weather balloon that fell to the earth.
REYNOLDS: Do weather balloons typically have rovers, Professor?
DAVIS: I'm not an expert on weather balloons, I'm sorry.
HARRIS: Our producer is waving his hands, so we're apparently out of time. Thanks for coming, Dr. Davis.
March 15th, 2004
REYNOLDS: Local residents are demanding permission from the government to return to their Westside homes and businesses today, organizing a rally just outside the half-mile perimeter set up to protect and isolate the Venice Alien Space Probe three months ago. Activists claim it's unfair for the government to keep them off their property for so long without any compensation or access to their personal belongings. Meanwhile, all reports indicate that the VASP is still inactive after having stopped its radio transmissions three weeks ago. Here with more information is Dr. Kelly Davis from UCLA. Hello Professor Davis.
DAVIS: Hello again Kathy, Tom.
HARRIS: Hello. These people look pretty mad. What can you tell us, Professor? How much longer are they going to be shut out of their homes?
DAVIS: That's really for the federal government to decide. I can tell you that we've done all the investigation we can on the probe without moving it to another location and disassembling it.
REYNOLDS: There was an attempt to move it in January, if I'm not mistaken. Why is it still sitting there on the street?
DAVIS: Well Kathy, there's concern that if the probe is moved it might be damaged, or it might react in an unpredictable manner.
HARRIS: What's your current plan, then? To leave it there on the sidewalk indefinitely?
DAVIS: No, clearly it will have to be moved to a more secure location soon, but we're still studying how to do that. It's much heavier than it looks, and appears to have dug itself partly into the ground.
REYNOLDS: It's dug itself into the ground? I haven't heard that before. Isn't it resting on concrete?
DAVIS: Yes, primarily, but the object deployed a sort of drill-like device several weeks ago and began drilling into the surface of the street adjacent to the sidewalk. There's some concern that attempting to move the object right now could damage the drill. And the street surface.
HARRIS: Has the probe done anything since it stopped transmitting last month?
DAVIS: Not really, no.
REYNOLDS: Ok, thanks for talking with us Dr. Davis.
August 21st, 2004
REYNOLDS: The federal government has approved a plan to build a permanent shelter over the Venice Alien Space Probe that scientists say won't block radio transmissions -- if the probe ever starts signaling again. The permanent shelter will protect the space probe from curious onlookers and vandals, and allow neighborhood residents to return to their nearby homes and businesses before Christmas. With us now is Professor Kelly Davis from UCLA to explain what's happening. Dr. Davis?
DAVIS: Hi Kathy. We've decided that it's too risky to move the probe at this point. We don't want to damage it, and we want to make sure that if it begins transmitting again it's antenna is properly aligned.
REYNOLDS: Are you going to continue studying the probe?
DAVIS: UCLA is going to set up a permanent research post near the probe to observe its behavior, yes.
REYNOLDS: Thanks for coming on Dr. Davis.
DAVIS: My pleasure.
January 7th, 2019
REYNOLDS: It's the 15th anniversary of the landing of the Venice Alien Space Probe, and scientists say they've given up hope that it will ever become active again. Here's Professor Kelly Davis with the UCLA astronomy department to tell us more. Dr. Davis, is it true that there are no more heat signatures coming from the probe?
DAVIS: That's right, Kathy. The probe has fallen to ambient temperature, and we believe this indicates that whatever power supplies it was working from have expired. We don't expect any more activity from the probe. It's very disappointing.
HARRIS: Other than the brief excursion of the rover in 2004, there hasn't been much visible activity of any kind from the probe, has there?
DAVIS: There was a short period during which the probe appeared to be taking soil samples of the surrounding terrain, but that stopped shortly after landing as well. There hasn't been much since then, other than a few radio pulses in 2011.
REYNOLDS: What's the plan now? Is the probe going to finally be moved to a research facility and taken apart?
DAVIS: Well, the probe has become quite a landmark for the city, and there's some pressure to leave it right where it is. I'm sure, though, that it will be moved eventually for further study. There's no more reason to leave it in place, now that it's clear that it isn't going to reactivate.
HARRIS: Once you have a chance to study the probe further, do you think you'll be able to get an idea as to its origin and purpose?
DAVIS: Hopefully, yes, although....
REYNOLDS: I'm sorry, Dr. Davis, we're getting some breaking news. It appears that the government is disassembling the space probe's protective shelter even as we speak, and witnesses report that the probe isn't inside anymore. What's going on, Dr. Davis?
DAVIS: I don't know. This is the first I've heard of it. Maybe the probe has already been moved to a new location....
HARRIS: Aren't you leading the team that's investigating the probe? Haven't you heard anything about it?
DAVIS: No, as far as I know the probe wasn't going anywhere.
REYNOLDS: Let's go live to our reporter on the scene....
January 7th, 2024
REYNOLDS: And on the stranger side of the news, space nuts and UFO aficionados have converged at Venice Beach, California, for their annual Venice Alien Space Probe vigil. Attendants say they come to commemorate earth's first contact with an alien species, and to draw attention to the probe's disappearance five years ago -- fifteen years to the day after the probe landed. The government has remained silent on the issue and will only say that their top scientists are still investigating the mysterious incident, which many believe to have been no more than the crash landing of a weather balloon. Opinions among space enthusiasts varies, ranging from some who believe the government is covering up the biggest story since TV-gate, to others who claim the probe has returned to the aliens who built it.