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face on Mars
The face on Mars is the image of some photographs of the Cydonia region of Mars taken in 1976 by the Viking Orbiter. The image is most likely of a natural formation but some people see a face or a building and are convinced that it was constructed by intelligent beings.
According to Gary Posner, the one most responsible for the view that the face on Mars is an alien construction is Richard C. Hoagland, author of The Monuments of Mars: A City on the Edge of Forever (1987).
NASA claims that the photos are just a play of light and shadow. Some took this explanation as a sure sign of a cover-up. Some engineers and computer specialists digitally enhanced the NASA images. This soon gave birth to the claim that the face was a sculpture of a human being located next to a city whose temples and fortifications could also be seen. Some began to wonder: were these built by the same beings who built the ancient airports in Peru and who were now communicating to us through elaborate symbols carved in wheat crop circles? Others took the wonder to the level of belief, based on the flimsiest of evidence and the grandest of imagination. Carl Sagan's more down-to-earth explanation for the face on mars is that it is the result of erosion and winds and other natural forces (Sagan, 52-55). Such a view seems most reasonable under the circumstances.
NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter sent back some more detailed pictures in July, 2002 that seems to slap the face into the ground with a group of other slapped faces. Much to the dismay of mystery mongers, NASA says that the Cydonia region is a "normal geologic feature with slopes and ridges carved by eons of wind and downslope motion due to gravity."* For the latest high resolution photos click here.
photo courtesy of NASA/JPL/Arizona State University
2006 - photo courtesy of ESA/DLR/FU Berlin
(G. Neukum), MOC (Malin Space Science Systems)
Richard Hoagland's Nonsense by Phil Plait, The Bad Astronomer
The Face Behind the "Face" on Mars: A Skeptical Look at Richard C. Hoagland by Gary P. Posner Skeptical Inquirer, November/December 2000.
The Face on Mars: Unmasked by New Images by Tony Phillips
The Real Story Behind Mysterious Space Photos by Robert Roy Britt
New Pictures of the "Face on Mars" April 6, 1998
The Face on Mars by Sally Stephens, Astronomical Society of the Pacific