YES – THERE IS A FACE
ON MARS - BUT IS IT ARTIFICIAL?
by Ananda Sirisena
[All images courtesy of NASA/MSSS]
On 24 May 2001, when NASA
released an overhead view of the Face on Mars, it also released some data
from MOLA (Mars Observer Laser Altimeter) of the corresponding region in
Cydonia. This report compares the two images, one made by optical camera
and the other of relief data from MOLA laser altimeter readings.
Malin Space Science Systems
(MSSS) placed, on its web pages, a small image comparing the 1976 Viking
Face from frame 70A13 with the latest MGS 2001 representation ( Figure 1).
The 1976 Viking image had
a resolution of approximately 50 metres per pixel. The MGS image is of much
higher resolution; the exact number of metres per pixel is not yet known.
Clearly, the two images were not taken at the same time of day, although
both are somewhat from overhead. Until MSSS (Malin Space Science Systems)
releases full ancillary data regarding date and time of acquisition of the
MGS picture, we can only guess as to time and angle of camera and the incident
angle of lighting from the Sun. Nevertheless, the MGS image clearly matches
the overall shape and details of the lower resolution picture from 1976.
The ‘eastern’ side of the
Face (right side from our point of view) appears to have a fracture going
almost three-quarters of the way down. This was not so apparent in 1976,
as the eastern side was in shadow then.
At the same time as the 2001
MGS image was released, NASA released a MOLA (Mars Observer Laser Altimeter)
view of the Face in Cydonia (see figure 2). Most unfortunately, the MOLA
image was presented in an ‘upside-down’ manner, which may be confusing to
observers. When this image is rotated back to familiar orientation,
one sees a clear view of the same fracture lines, the same ‘platform’ or
‘berm’ (to use a geological expression) and the same characteristics of facial
features (see Figure 3). However, the image also needs to be skewed and de-stretched
in order fully to reveal its correct overall shape (see Figure 4).
The MOLA data substantiate
the general characteristics of the optical view of the Face in Cydonia and
therefore must be regarded as confirmation of the various elements of symmetry
and facial features that have led planetary SETI investigators to postulate
that it may be an ancient, eroded, but deliberately sculpted landform on Mars,
evidence of activity by some intelligent beings
|As shown on the NASA web site.
|Turned upside down for usual orientation.
|Figure 3 shows Figure 2 rotated
through 180 degrees. This MOLA image is clearly of very high resolution; as
NASA’s caption indicates, the laser altimeter data have a resolution
of 1.5 m per pixel, many times better than the 1976 Viking images.
Figure 4 shows the MOLA image
rotated (or skewed)to approximate an “overhead” view by the laser altimeter.
This cannot be done very accurately, as at the time of writing, complete
data on the MOLA images are not available.
To now compare the MOLA
high-resolution laser altimeter image with the high-resolution MGS MOC (Mars
Observer Camera) leads to the conclusion that they supplement each other
and also clearly show that the east and west sides of the Face are not identical.
If both images are split down the middle and mirrored, the western half shows
a resemblance to a “hominid/simian” face portrayal. The eastern half mirrored
shows a “feline/bird” appearance.
Figure 5 shows
the high resolution optical image taken by the MGS camera and released by
NASA in May 2001.
It has been
reduced in size here as the original image is very large and would not fit
on a single page in its entirety if shown in full resolution.
Image number: E03 –
taken by the MGS camera in April 2001. It is a magnificent overhead view
of the Face on Mars and is the sort of data that should have arrived instead
of the ‘catbox’ issued in April 1998.
Both the MOLA and MGS images
also clearly show that the east and west sides of the Face are not identical.
The variance between the east and west portions, with the resulting lack
of symmetry, has raised questions by researchers as to the legitimacy of
claims that the object may be artificial. However a simple test has a remarkable
result. If both images are split down the middle and mirrored, the western
half shows a resemblance to a hominid/simian face portrayal. The eastern
half mirrored shows a feline/bird appearance. The reason for the test by
this writer is to remain open to the suggestion made by Richard Hoagland
many years ago that the Face on Mars represented a dichotomy – a “man/lion”
or “hominid/feline” fused into a single image, not unlike terrestrial artwork
of many centuries ago.
Figure 6 shows the west
side of the Face from the 2001 MGS image, mirrored with itself. The simian/hominid
resemblance is very striking. Compare this with Figure 7 which shows the
same half (west) of the Face from the MOLA image. The simian resemblance
in this laser altimeter-derived picture is even more striking. Readers are
requested to make their own judgement on this visual spectacle.
|Figure 6: MGS west half mirrored.
Figure 7: MOLA west half mirrored.
of the images also highlights many of the details captured by both of these
high resolution pictures, even though they were taken by very different technologies.
There are several intricate details that require additional study, especially
from the full image sets. Since their size precludes inclusion here, these
details will be kept for a later study.
It should be
noted that Figure 7 was derived only by turning, or skewing, the image NASA
placed on its web pages in May 2001, exactly as shown in Figure 2 above.
The author of this report has not done any pixel inter- polation on these
images. The only processing has been adjusting brightness and contrast and
of course skewing.
Figure 8: MGS east half mirrored
Figure 9: MOLA east half mirrored
east-side mirrors, from MGA and MOLA show features that could be construed
as animal or bird-like. Although the resemblance to a large feline, like
a lion is apparent, there is also an uncanny likeness to a bird with a beak.
The author suggests that the eastern side of the Face on Mars may actually
represent a composite piece of artwork, both feline and bird-like. Whilst
this is speculation, it is valid in the context of trying to understand the
presence of such a perplexing formation on Mars within proximity of the Crater/McDaniel
mound layout and its angular relation- ship to the pentad/hexad.
where exactly the centre line of the image lies has a bearing on how the
two halves appear when mirrored. Moving the centre line some pixels to the
east or west does not substantially alter the views when the two halves are
The April 1998
image of the Face, although released to the world’s media as a ‘catbox’,
i.e. with tonal information removed and with the image having been passed
through a high-frequency filter, thus suppressing 3-dimensional relief and
giving the appearance of a flat mountain, eroded beyond recognition, nevertheless
retained the same east-west dichotomy.
This author attempted
a similar experiment in 1998 with the very poor data released then. A similar
result was obtained then, quite surprisingly.
Figure 10 shows
a provocative relationship between the placement of the Face on Mars and
the grid formed by the mound layout known as the pentad/hexad, discovered
by professors Horace Crater and Stanley McDaniel.
The grid was
shown, mathematically, to be a square-root-two layout.
images from MGS MOC (Mars Observer Camera) and MOLA only confirm that the
Face remains an enigmatic and curious feature, requiring further research
as to its possible meaning and presence in the northern hemisphere of Mars.
The debate will continue………….
Ananda L. Sirisena
It should also be noted that
NASA placed a much lower resolution image derived from laser altimeter data
on its web pages at the same time as it released the Face in May 2001. (see
four images below). They were also – sadly - reversed. The image should be
flipped in order to see the correct orientation of the Face. The resolution
of these was much lower even than the 1976 Viking images but confirm the
general layout and structure of the terrain which represents the famous ‘Face
Figure 11 – Note: Above 4 images should be reversed
for correct orientation.