Gordon Cooper was an aerospace engineer, test pilot and the youngest of seven astronauts in NASA’s Project Mercury. In 1963, Mr Cooper piloted the longest and last Mercury spaceflight, Mercury-Atlas 9, where he became the first American to spend an entire day in space, the first to sleep in space, and the last American launched on an entirely solo orbital mission. His mission came just one year after the Cuban Missile Crisis and so, along with his usual NASA tasks, the US Government asked him to photograph as much of the Earth as possible, to get an idea of any Soviet advancements.
However, the astronaut ran his own personal project alongside this.
YouTube channel “TheRichest” explained in 2019: “Cooper was instructed to observe any effects zero gravity would have on the human body then, after a period of time, he would return to Earth safely.
“The public were only aware of those two tasks, but a lot of the mission objectives were classified, and one of them included taking a lot of photos, he took over 5,000 pictures.
“But this wasn’t just to shoot some pretty pictures, there was another objective involved in taking all the space snaps, including the search for hidden Soviet nuclear bases and submarines.
NASA played a part in finding the anchor
Gordon Cooper flew to space over 50 years ago
t’s screaming at us that this is a Columbus-era anchor
“Cooper would then mark on a map where these potential locations were off the United States coast, invaluable information for the US defence at the time.
“As Cooper was searching for these destructive areas, he found something else, something that didn’t make sense.”
The series went on to reveal how Mr Cooper noticed several “anomalies” particularly in the Caribbean, but he apparently did not tell NASA about them on touchdown.
The narrator added: “He saw these magnetic anomalies through the camera, but they weren’t the correct size or shape to be nuclear-holding facilities and many were in the shallow waters around the Caribbean.
“This grabbed hold of Mr Cooper, he had to find out what these bizarre marks were, so he made another map of all the anomaly locations.
The discovery was made near Caribbean islands
“During his time in orbit, Mr Cooper completed 22 revolutions around the Earth, he was also on the last single manned space mission.
“But the anomalies played on his mind and for reasons unknown he never told NASA about his bizarre findings, instead he wanted to find out what they were himself.
“He kept it to himself for 40 years, setting off on a self-provided mission during his spare time and as he investigated, he realised many of these oddities were scattered through old Spanish ship trade routes, making him wonder if the blips were shipwrecks.”
Mr Cooper passed away in 2004 but the map was given to close friend Darrell Miklos, who spearheaded the Discovery Channel’s “Cooper’s Treasure” series, exposing the maps to the world for the first time.
Since 2017, the team has made a number of amazing discoveries, including gold in shipwrecks thought to be valued in the billions.
NASA breakthrough: How space agency will probe life on distant moon [EXPLAINED]
Life on Mars: How NASA probed ‘greatest discovery’ [REVEALED]
DeGrasse Tyson exposes Apollo 11 flaw: ‘Has anyone considered that?’ [EXPOSED]
The team pulled the anchor out of the water
Christopher Columbus’ route 500 years ago
But nothing quite compares to an anchor found off the Turks and Caicos islands, which dates between 1492 and 1550.
The overall size of the anchor and its estimated weight of between 1,200 and 1,500 pounds indicates that it was a “bower” anchor from a 300-ton vessel, the typical size of a Columbus-era ship.
Mr Miklos said in 2017: “The moment we broke the surface of the water, we knew we had it, the plan worked out perfectly.
“This required a lot of thinking, planning and hard work on everybody’s part, not to mention some serious equipment.
“We actually did it, we brought the anchor up to the surface, nobody has seen this for 500 years.
“This was hand forged, do you know what that means? It was made before 1550, the Columbus era.
“It’s screaming at us that this is a Columbus-era anchor.”
The discovery is believed to be linked to Vicente Yanez Pinzon, a Spanish sailor who, along with his brother Martin Alonso Pinzon, was part of the Columbus expeditions.
In addition to the anchor, a diving team also found several other artefacts pointing to the Columbus era, including three grappling hooks used for salvaging treasure from other sunken ships.
Archaeologists also found broken pieces of pottery and an olive jar painted with indigo paint, which indicates Spanish origin.
A pot from the Spanish island of Mallorca was also found, which also dates the wreck to the period between 1492 and the early 1500s.
Additionally, several iron and bronze spikes, possibly the last remnants of the sunken ships, were found, as well as a broken section of anchor’s ring, that indicates the anchor came from the third ship in Pinzon’s fleet that is known to have lost its anchor in a storm.