November 29, 2021

Secret map from dead NASA astronaut sparks ‘historical’ Caribbean treasure hunt

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By Nick Whigh From

In May 1963, NASA astronaut Gordon Cooper embarked on a record-breaking mission.

It was the last time an American astronaut was launched alone to conduct an entirely solo orbital mission, and it was during his 22 quiet Earth orbits on board the Mercury-Atlas 9 that he made a discovery which he kept secret for more than 40 years.

During the journey he was tasked with conducting 11 experiments, but it was an unplanned project that has now prompted a treasure hunt in the Caribbean islands that could have “major historical value,” treasure hunters say.

The NASA mission took place just months after the Cuban missile crisis pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war and on board the spacecraft Mr Cooper had long-range detection equipment designed to help him identify clandestine nuclear sites around the world.

But it wasn’t long before something else caught his attention.

He noticed some anomalies in shallow water around the South Caribbean. They weren’t significant enough to be nuclear silos, but he believed them to be shipwrecks.

He went on to detect more than 100 of these anomalies, photographed them and jotted down their coordinates. He believed the anomalies — which appeared as dark patches on his photographs — could include the lost fleet of Christopher Columbus.

One of the most famous astronauts of his generation then spent the next two decades cross referencing the coordinates with research done on Earth and secretly working on a map that he believed could point the way to billions of dollars worth of underwater treasure.

That map has now sparked a potentially historical treasure hunt in the Caribbean — and a new documentary miniseries to go with it.

“It sounds crazy, but it’s a treasure map from space,” Darrell Miklos told the filmmakers of Cooper’s Treasure, set to debut on the Discovery Channel in the US this week.

Mr Miklos was bequeathed the map and the extensive research Mr Cooper had done to piece it together before he suddenly died in 2004.

“I think he knew his demise was coming, so he gave me the information prior to his death and said, ‘Anything ever happens to me, you make sure you finish this’,” he told Fox News.

Upon retiring, Mr Cooper turned his attention to his secretive treasure map but never got the chance to begin the hunt in earnest.

For Mr Miklos the chance to finish the job is about honouring the memory of his friend and mentor just as much as it is about discovering any sunken gold.

But speaking to, he outlined how his crew — accompanied by archaeologists and researchers — has gone about beginning the potentially lucrative quest.

Simply put, they’re going after the big fish first.

“Gordon identified areas of interest to him because he was aware that certain ships went down with a very large cargo of treasure, and those are the ones that we’re focused on right now because it opens people’s eyes,” he said.

“Everybody listens when they find something of value, and there’s a lot that will probably also lead us to things of major historical value.”

Mr Miklos comes from a family of dedicated treasure hunters who were involved in several successful underwater historical shipwreck recoveries in the 1960s and 1970s.

As a child he joined his father on expeditions uncovering spent booster rockets for NASA’s Apollo Program but it was a chance encounter that led him to be in possession of Mr Cooper’s map.

In 1978 his father was a guest on The Merv Griffin Show, in an episode which also featured the NASA astronaut as a guest.

As a child, Mr Miklos met him backstage and the pair struck up a relationship that years later saw them share an office together and develop a close bond.

“From the mid-’90s till his passing, we always talked about treasure, but (it was) not till 2002 that he revealed to me that he had all these files for decades,” Mr Miklos said. “I’m privileged to be the only man with these files.”

Just two years after sharing his secret Mr Cooper died. But Mr Miklos has continued to piece together the work he did mapping the locations that the decorated astronaut first spotted from space.

In 2014 Mr Miklos founded Gemini Marine Exploration “to locate, identify, and recover cargo and artefacts from sunken ships,” according to the company’s website.

“We are actively pursuing several promising projects in the Caribbean,” it says.


Astronaut Gordon Cooper’s secret map has sparked a Caribbean treasure hunt more than 50 years later Coopers Treasure – A map from space .

Gordon Cooper on the front page of Time magazine.Source:Supplied

Underwater treasure hunters scan the sea.Source:Supplied

Gordon Cooper with US president JFK after receiving the Distinguished Service Medal.Source:Supplied

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