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Mars anomalous images:

The Face, cause of harsh controversies: depending on the pictures and the studies, it sometimes is just a shadowplay, sometimes an artificial construction.

In 1976, NASA had sent the Viking I probe to Mars to take photographs of the surface. Unknown to them, they would be taking a picture of something that would cause controversy for years to come. A few short years after the photos were taken, it was discovered there was a "Face" on Mars as well as a complex of sites that looked like pyramids.

Lies, deception, debunking and disinformation:

The case for the face, so far:

From the 1977 Viking picture of "The Face", I would have drawn no conclusion. It is a picture of a rock which ressembles a humanoid face. Period.

NASA did not draw any conclusion either: NASA had no comment on the face whatsover:

"NASA has no official opinion on what the so-called "face" on Mars is. Most planetary scientists agree that, although there is insufficient data to make a definitive analysis of the feature, it is highly unlikely to be anything other than a combination of a natural feature and unusual lighting conditions."

But several scientists such as Vince DiPietro suggested that "The Face" might be an artifical construction and presented several evidences to support this thesis. Later, non-scientists joined in and ridiculed the scientific debate by adding a vast collection of non-scientific assumptions and even religious interpretation, often sold in delirious books. Every martian rock has become "the proof" to support extraordinary claims of architectural resemblance between almost all past human monuments from Egypt, China, South America and every single rock on Mars, hence "conclusions" that do not actually match with any serious historical or archaeological work... An incredible "pot-pourri" was offered to the gullible people: the Nazca drawing, the giant pyramids in China, the Sphynx in Egypt, Indian tumuli and every little sacred hill in England has become part of the Big Picture.

My 2 cents opinion was:

"The Face on Mars is probably a combination of natural feature, but since some scientists think otherwise, since there are seemingly various other unusual features in the same sector, and since NASA states that there is insufficient data to make a definitive analysis of the feature, no conclusion or interpretation should be made at this time. Better pictures might solve the case, maybe, and I am impatient to see NASA provide the better pictures thanks to the MGS mission."

Basically, I did not accept that if a rock on Mars has a pyramidal shape, it would imply artificiality, and cannot accept at all that it implies that Martians constructed the Egyptian pyramids or that ancient Egyptian went to Mars. If there are rocks on Mars with pyramidal shape, the only fact it implies is that there are rocks on Mars with pyramidal shape. If several unusual features were gathered in an unusual sector, then the time has not come to conclude for artificialty, but the time has come to gather more data, the time has come for cross examination.

But today, 14 February 2001, I have found some reasons for my irritation.

Dishonest debunking: is one of the many web portals for the people interested in space events and technologies. On 14.02.2001, an article was published with the title "The Real Story Behind Mysterious Space Photos".

Hoping for the promised "Real Story", I found such a biaised article that I felt immediately compelled to list its flaws.

Lies, omissions, biased information:

The article published on My comment


By Robert Roy Britt

Senior Science Writer

This title is already insult to the intelligence. We have no interest in hearing another version of "the real story". We need information, and we will figure the "real story" out using our actual own brain. The photos of "The face" and of the nearby features are not "space photos". They are NASA pictures of the surface of Mars. They are not "mysterious", they are well documented scientific data. What are the "mysterious space photos"?

While the agency's scientists clearly stated that it only looked like a face, some true believers still think it is an alien creation.

If you claim it is natural, you are a scientist. If you claim it is artificial, you are a true believer.

The facts: some scientists have studied the case and concluded of artificiality. Other scientists have studied the case and concluded it is natural. Some scientist gave up: they tried to demonstrate artificiality and were mocked. Most scientists who have studied the case say there is insufficient data to conclude, and additional data would be appreciated. Most scientist who have not studied the case think it is natural. NASA has no official position.

"It is frustrating when people refuse to believe what's in front of their eyes, such as when the Mars Global Surveyor camera took an image which clearly showed the so-called "Face on Mars" was nothing more than an interesting craggy rock, some people still didn't want to believe it."

This comment is about frustration, so let me present my own frustration:

"This one additional image is not sufficient one way or another. Give the people some more pictures, of the whole region of Cydonia, taken from the other side or the "Face", if they have negative color do let let us ignore it, and you will see that people would easily accept what will obviously be shown. In articles such as this one, the subject is so ridiculed, the tone is so non-scientific, and nothing of the scientific studies that support artificiality is even mentionne, that obviously even the most "Face sceptic", like I am, start to doubt that this feature is natural."

It seems that there are people out there who will believe what they want to believe, regardless of how much hard evidence is presented to the contrary.

It is my freedom to believe what I want to believe. Yet I do not disregard hard evidence: the article has no evidence presented in it. Other information source.

The most famous of all extraterrestrial human-like features was first described as appearing to have eyes and nostrils by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1976.

Few NASA scientists said the feature is worth interest and were immediately ridiculed by fellow scientists. Some of them presented scientific work including nearby features and claiming that the probability to find so many other unusual feature in the sector where the face is was a good indication of artificiality. Some of these studies have been validated by peers.

But the feature was revealed by subsequent photographs to be a rather mundane mountain...



In fact, the subsequent photograph presented here on the right is the negative, filtered, raw MGS image, compared to the treated Viking image. The author shows two pictures at completey different stage of enhancement process! The effect on the unaware reader is obvious: there seems to be no face at all anymore, just a flat rocky area.

What you see underneath is the real NASA comparative picture as published on the NASA web site!

Viking/MGS NASA comparison

...whose striking facial features depend on sunlight hitting it at a certain angle.

No they do not depend on the angle of sunlight. The Viking and MGS pictures have different sunlight angles and both show the facial features.

Here is the original caption that NASA released with the image: "...Bit errors comprise part of one of the 'eyes' and 'nostrils' on the eroded rock that resembles a human face near the center of the image. Shadows in the rock formation give the illusion of a nose and mouth. Planetary geologists attribute the origin of the formation to purely natural processes."

Here is the latest official NASA position: "NASA has no official opinion on what the so-called "face" on Mars is. Most planetary scientists agree that, although there is insufficient data to make a definitive analysis of the feature, it is highly unlikely to be anything other than a combination of a natural feature and unusual lighting conditions." NASA became more cautious after some scientists presented their evidence of artificiality.

Moreover, there might be a "bit error nostril", but the eye is not a "bit error", it is at the same place on the MGS subsequent photos. And if there is a "bit error" masking part of the picture, no one should postulate that there is nothing interesting under the "bit error" zone.

Less popularized, but obviously more menacing, is the face found on asteroid Eros, seen here glaring off to the right.

Eros face

This is pure debunking technique. No scientist has ever suggested there is really an artificial facial feature on Eros! Presenting a close-up picture of a feature on Eros which is obviously a shadowplay depending completely on the light direction at a particular time and on the framing of the picture is a gross trick used to suggest that the "Face" is also a fugitive coincidental shadowplay! The word "less popularized" is telling: it suggests the whole affair is a "popularization". The comments "obviously more menacing", "to the right", are as uninteresting and meaningless as possible...

On Feb. 13, 2000, scientists at Johns Hopkins University announced the stunning discovery of a human heart outline embedded in the asteroid Eros, named for the god of love. The image was taken by the spacecraft NEAR Shoemaker as it prepared to go into orbit around Eros. Unfortunately (as the scientist's may have secretly suspected) the 3-mile-wide (5-kilometer) depression turned out to be a trick of light, which struck some admittedly odd features.

Now it turns into complete ridicule! When some scientists announce ridiculous "discoveries" such as this, they are "odd features"! When other scientists spend 20 years of thorough investigation of the Cydonia Mensae numerous unusual features, 100 times odder than this Eros uninteresting shadowplay, they are ridiculed...

On the next page, a similar feature is presented as "the paw on Eros", a feature of absolutely no interest, of which no scientist has ever suggested that it would not be natural. This is the same debunking technique: to suggest that there are alleged artificial feature everywhere, who always turn out to be natural, and to imply that the Face and Cydonia features on Mars fall exactly on the same category.

A Heart on Mars too

Conspiracy theorists often point to the infamous Face on Mars when citing NASA's supposed propensity to cover up the nearby presence of aliens.

But aliens would have to have a heart, too, wouldn't they? If so, one may have been spotted in this 1999 Mars Global Surveyor image.

Researchers say the heart is no alien creation, however.

Yet Another Heart on Mars

The Red Planet gets the prize for having the most heart of any object in the solar system. This image of a heart was released to the public just before Valentine's Day in 2000.

Little by little, the debunking builds up...

The new ideas introduced to you here are:

  • The case of "the face" comes from "conspiracy theorists": no sorry, it comes from NASA scientists and non-NASA scientists.
  • The face has never been considered as a sign of "the nearby presence of aliens": this is written to associate different issues under one generic topic of "little green men" etc. There are indeed UFO cases in relation to Mars for example, but the most fanatical supporters of the artificialy of Cydonia consifder it only as a ruin from a distant past.
  • Researcher who think the "Face" is artificial have not suggested anything of this sort about the "heart"...

The tone of these comments is an insult to the intelligence: who ever emitted the idea that if an alien has a heart, it would be a giant heart resting on the surface of Mars? I have a suggestion to the debunkers: show us a crater on the moon, and claim: "UFO freaks think it is an alien ashtray, because aliens do smoke, don't they? But researcher demonstrated it was only a crater."

The Other face on Mars:

Less sinister than its infamous Red Planet companion, this smiling Martian was called the "Happy Face Crater" by scientists who spotted it. This image was made in 1999 by the Mars Orbiter Camera onboard the Mars Global Surveyor.

"sinister", "infamous", "smiling", "happy"... Quite an emotional language for a paper supposed to bring us the neutral facts.

I have a question: how is it that we get two good quality images here, color images, images at different angles of this "other" face, and only few low quality, deformed, incomplete, black and white pictures from the "infamous" face?

When do we get the picture of the other side of our "infamous" face? or with the sun coming from the opposite direction? Would it not be the final answer the the case?

What does this other face have in common with the "infamous" face? This face is just a crater! with 3 rocks inside of it. The "infamous face" is a very different feature! Nobody ever suggested artificiality of this "happy face"!

Obviously I need some more paragraphs, to remind the reader of a few information that the has "forgotten" to mention:

What about the various other unusual feature on Mars? Not worth to even mention? Explanation found?

What about the main reason to be puzzled about Cydonia Mensae, the region where the "Face" is located: the unusual number of unusal features concentrated in the same area?

What about some thinking, for a change. This is all highly speculative, but I prefer to speculate than read another "Human heart on Eros found on Valentine's day" nonsense.

  • If the "Face" is only a natural feature, NASA's own interest could be to spare the mystery: after all, they are funded by American taxpayers, and if they can fascinate American taxpayers with Mars mysteries, they would get more funding for Mars exploration. On the other end, NASA spends only 2% of its budget on Mars exploration: possibly, NASA does not wish to increase this budget, possibly they would rather increase other budgets. NASA director Sam Golding has often claimed the Mars funding is sufficient. I am under the impression that NASApolitics is a deeper mystery than the "Face on Mars" mystery...
  • If the "Face" and other Cydonia features are of artificial nature, it is obvious that NASA has to dissimulate it. It is still too early to disclose information of such a nature: mankind is not ready yet. Cultural and religious beliefs would be shaterred if the still unprepared mankind would be confronted to the information that some human or non-human civilisation built giant constructions on the nearby planet.
  • All in all, the whole affair is unconclusive one way or another. Time for a conclusion.

My conclusion on February 14, 2001:

Not one word in the above article is said about studies by Dr. Vince DiPietro, Dr. James McDaniels, Dr. Carlotto and other scientist who thoroughly investigated the features of Cydonia Mensae and concluded that there are evidences of artificiality. The above article is a mockery and has no value at all.

The article above is not an isolated publication to ridicule this subject. It has the tone and the content of almost all media articles, on the web and in the written press.

"The Face on Mars is probably a combination of natural feature, but since some scientists think otherwise, since there are seemingly various other unusual features in the same sector, and since NASA states that there is insufficient data to make a definitive analysis of the feature, no conclusion or interpretation should be made at this time. Better pictures might solve the case, maybe, and I am impatient to see NASA provide the better pictures that the MGS mission has not provided yet."

"Various media are publishing biased and incomplete information about the unusual feature of Mars in a totally unfair, inapproriate, non-scientific manner. The chances for a scientific cross examination of the few studies who claim in their conclusion that some artificial feature do exist on Mars are reduced to null, as any neutral scientist who would be willing to start any new investigation would be ridiculed."

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This page was last updated on February 15, 2001.