Saturday, 25 October 2008

The 'Man' on Mars

Photographed by the Spirit lander spacecraft near the edge of Gusev crater, the ‘Man on Mars’ was discovered by enthusiastic researchers who had been combing this panoramic image hoping to find something interesting.

(Pic.1 Man on Mars, closeup - Courtesy NASA/JPL)

Well, at first glance it does look intriguing and on closer inspection the ‘Man’ on Mars actually looks like a female figure, perched on a rock with her arm outstretched, or perhaps making her way down the hillside!

However, despite this object having a very distinctive humanoid appearance, we must accept that knowing what we do about the surface temperatures and the total absence of air to breathe, it is extremely unlikely that this is an actual living being walking about on Mars.

If the human resemblance were to mean anything other than a naturally sculptured piece of rocky outcrop, then it would more likely be a statue and not a living creature. But if it was a statue then we would need to find some corroborative evidence that there used to be a civilization around this area, for example some ruins of buildings, artifacts or walls perhaps.

Curiosity awakened, I duly spent a couple of hours studying the surrounding terrain near this object and beyond but found nothing convincing enough to suggest to me that this site was anything other than another boring, rock strewn view of Mars, the like of which we have seen far too many of.

I then went to see what NASA had to say about the object, and the guy responsible for aiming the camera said that it was only about 5cm tall, barely two inches!

Now this fact alters the perspective somewhat does it not!

Well, I wish I had gone to the NASA site first of all. It should have been obvious. This object can only have been a few metres away from the Spirit Lander, a fact which can clearly be discerned from the photograph. So logically with the object being so close to the spacecraft, this meant that it could only have been a very tiny thing, and was therefore most likely just a small piece of weathered rock.

(Pic.2 Man on Mars, zoom out - Courtesy NASA/JPL)

For me it was another interesting observation as to how people can leap to silly conclusions by not taking the time to make a rational assessment of the subject in question. Allowing the fantasy to take off on a wild leap without suitable foundation.

(Pic.3 Man on Mars, view from Spirit Rover - Courtesy NASA/JPL)

Unfortunately, this kind of indiscipline casts a shadow over other controversial areas of research that DO have rational platforms of evidence on which to base challenging questions, such as the question of Mars once having been home to an advanced civilization.

The interest in the ‘Face' on Mars and the enigmatic objects in Cydonia, and now the ‘Woman’ on Mars reveals a lively undercurrent of intense interest from ordinary people about Mars. A healthy fascination that is frustratingly being subdued by the dry ponderous, monotony of systematic, planetary research.

There is a growing impatience from many folk who are just about done with hearing about ‘interesting rocks’ and instead want to hear about some real discoveries. Not microscopic life – everyone knows this will be announced sooner rather than later, and will not be a surprise – but something that will excite their imagination and broaden their minds.

Is there life on Mars? The answer will surely be ‘yes’. The only question remaining will be ‘what kind of life, and how extensive is it?’.

For now, we are unlikely to see Martian humanoid creatures walking around on two legs on the surface of Mars (at least not without a spacesuit…), but I hope that soon we will get something really terrific. Something that will quantifiably deepen our understanding of the universe.
NASA link to original Spirit Rover image:

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Artificial Objects at Cydonia: Peer Reviewed Journal Publications & Other Articles – by the Society for Planetary SETI Research

Here is a list of scientific papers and articles that investigate the hypothesis that some objects found at Cydonia on Mars, may be artificial. These can be read and studied in full at the SPSR website

  • The Mounds of Cydonia - A Case Study for Planetary SETI
    by Dr. Horace W. Crater
  • Detecting Patterns of a Technological Intelligence
    in Remotely Sensed Imagery

    by Dr. Mark J. Carlotto
  • Digital Imagery Analysis of Unusual Martian Surface Features by Mark J. Carlotto
  • A Method for Searching for Artificial Objects on Planetary Surfaces
    by Mark J. Carlotto and Michael C. Stein
  • Some Observations from Archaeology and Religious Studies on ETI (Extra-terrestrial Intelligence) by Dr. James F. Strange
  • Evidence in Support of the Hypothesis that Certain Objects on Mars are Artificial in Origin by Mark J. Carlotto
  • Mound Configurations on the Martian Cydonia Plain
    by Horace W. Crater and Professor Stanley V. McDaniel
  • Response to Geomorphology of Selected Massifs on the Plains of Cydonia, Mars by David Pieri by M. J. Carlotto, H. W. Crater, James Erjavec, and S. V. McDaniel
  • Evidence of Planetary Artifacts
    by Dr. T. Van Flandern, M. J. Carlotto, H. W. Crater, J. Erjavec, L. Fleming, J. P. Levasseur
  • Yes – there is a Face On Mars - but is it Artificial?
    by Ananda Sirisena
  • Identification and Evaluation of the Mars Global Surveyor MOLA Profile of the Mars Face by Lan Fleming

Go to the SPSR website to read the articles/papers in full

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Sunday, 12 October 2008

There is 'Contemporary' Life on Mars - Scientist Claims

Leading international space scientist Chandra Wickramasinghe has stated there is now clear evidence of life on Mars but that U.S. authorities are hesitating from announcing the fact to the world for possible political reasons. The internationally renowned astrobiologist was quoted as saying:

"The discovery of liquid water on Mars combined with earlier discoveries of organic substances in a meteorite that came from Mars, and also of methane in the Martian atmosphere all point to the existence of life - contemporary life - on the Red Planet. I am not speaking of fossilized life but contemporary life."

Professor Wickramasinghe, who is professor of applied mathematics and astronomy at the University of Cardiff in Wales as well as student and collaborator of the late British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle, had been speaking to Sri Lankan diplomat and journalist Walter Jayawardhana, based in London, who had made the text of the interview available to IANS.

Wickramasinghe is also a leading proponent of the theory known as Panspermia. A fascinating and controversial theory which supports the idea that all planets have essentially been seeded for life by microbes from outer space.

In the interview, he went on to say that the discovery of subsurface water ice in the north polar regions of Mars – announced by US scientists on July 31st - combined with earlier developments, leads him to believe there is life on Mars.

"Even as early as 1976, when the two NASA space probes, Viking 1 and Viking 2, landed on Mars, experiments carried out in situ pointed strongly to the existence of active microbial life.

"In one experiment nutrient broth was poured onto a sample of Martian soil, and it frothed up so vigorously exuding carbon dioxide, that a positive detection of life might have been inferred.

"But when the NASA scientists looked for organic material, the detritus of living organisms, around the landing site, their experiments yielded negative or ambiguous results. So NASA cautiously concluded, 'no organics means no life detected'.

"But 32 years on, my friend Gil Levin, who was principal investigator on this project maintains that life on Mars was indeed detected in 1976! The experiments of 1976 to detect the dead bodies and decomposition products of bacteria were simply not sensitive enough," Wickramasinghe told Jayawardhana.

The Sri Lankan astrobiologist who is currently working on developing methods for detecting life processes in space, believes the delay in announcing life on Mars has nothing to do with science.

"I think there could be political and sociological considerations at work," he said. "Firstly, if life was already detected, then there is no need to spend vast sums of money to continue the search."

Source: IANS (Indian-Asian News Service)

Saturday, 4 October 2008

The Face on Mars: The Facts

The Face on Mars is located in the northern desert plain called Cydonia Mensae, 41 degrees North latitude, 9 degrees West longitude. It is about 2 kilometers long and rises to over 350 meters high. It was first photographed by the Viking Orbiter spacecraft in 1976 (pic.1), and the amazing resemblance to a face was dismissed by NASA as a 'trick of light and shadow’.

(pic.1 'The Face' Viking 1976 - Courtesy NASA/JPL)

In 1982, digital image processing and computer professionals DiPietro and Molenaar, produced a scientific paper entitled Unusual Martian Surface Features, which summed up an initial investigation of the Face on Mars and other nearby objects. In this paper, the scientists presented data which suggested there was evidence of an artificial origin to the Face on Mars and these other objects in Cydonia. In other words, someone at some time had made them. However, despite the data and studies presented in the paper, it failed to interest NASA or the scientific community as a whole.

Due to the objects remarkable similarity to a humanoid face it subsequently became the focus of study for a number of scientists and researchers such as professor Stanley V. McDaniel and imaging scientist Dr. Mark J. Carlotto, and over the years there followed several scientific studies, peer reviewed papers, books and videos supporting what came to be known as “the artificial hypothesis”.

Leading researcher and science writer Richard C. Hoagland, led the cause to inform the general public and the media at large about the Face on Mars and Cydonia, his research culminating in his book The Monuments of Mars in 1987. He also gave presentations to both NASA in 1991 and to the United Nations in 1992.

But neither NASA nor the world-wide scientific community at large would accept or recognize the data presented to them or would take the subject at all seriously. Indeed historically there has been a running battle with NASA to persuade them to even make it a mission objective to re-photograph the area of Cydonia so as to verify or refute the astonishing claims of the Face on Mars researchers.
In addition to the Face, there are several other anomalous objects in this region which warrant investigation, such as a layout of mounds which have some amazing mathematical and geometrical properties, and also a large five-sided mountain which looks remarkably angular and pyramidal.

In truth by itself, the Face would probably not have sustained the level of interest that has now lasted for well over two decades, were it not for these other mysterious objects that lay in relatively close proximity to the Face, a few kilometers to the west and to the south.

But the validity of the artificial hypothesis - that the Face and nearby objects were not natural, but were formed by an intelligent race of beings - had relied heavily upon the photographs taken by the Viking Orbiter spacecraft in 1976, images that could only manage a 50 square meters per pixel resolution.

These images seemed to show a stunning array of polyhedral objects in the Cydonia region, in addition to the Face, but the researchers all knew they needed pictures at a much higher resolution to either verify their theory that the objects were indeed artificial, or to disprove the theory altogether.

Hope rested on NASA’s Mars Observer spacecraft which was due to image the planet with the required detail in 1993, but NASA seemed to show reluctance to make any promises at all that Cydonia and The Face on Mars would be re-photographed, raising all manner of suspicion that other factors were now involved that complicated the whole subject of Cydonia for the authorities.

Mysteriously, as the spacecraft was due to enter Mars orbit, all communication was lost with it and the opportunity to get new pictures of the Face on Mars delayed for the time being. Fortunately though, NASA had lined up a flotilla of spacecraft that were due to visit and study Mars over the next decade, and Mars Global Surveyor was next in line with an onboard camera identical to the one lost on Mars Observer. This spacecraft was due to return pictures in 1998.

Meanwhile in 1997, NASA agreed to accept a presentation by several SPSR scientists (The Society for Planetary SETI Research), led by professor Stanley McDaniel, to view the scientific case for Cydonia. Following this presentation and a persistent publicity campaign by Richard Hoagland, there followed a public agreement by NASA to re-image Cydonia.

So, in April 1998, three new images were provided by the Mars Global Surveyor camera, of The Face and of nearby objects.

Oddly, MSSS(Malin Space Science Systems) in conjunction with NASA, first released a poor, featureless image of the Face to the awaiting world media (pic.2), who were keen to see if there was a story to tell here. But when they saw the grainy, uninteresting picture, they promptly lost interest in the subject.

(pic.2 ‘The Face’ imaged by MGS in 1998. Courtesy NASA/JPL/MSSS)

A day or so later, NASA released a much better enhanced version (pic.3) which showed many of the features which had originally led investigators to theorize that it was an artificially carved humanoid face. Indeed in the new image, although not perfect for analysis due to the angle it was taken, additional facial features were found too. By then of course, all the news people had gone.

(pic.3 ‘The Face’ imaged by MGS 1998. Courtesy NASA/JPL/MSSS)

To most scientists and geologists it was still just a natural formation—a geologically formed knob or mesa. To others it still resembled an artificial face. A new overhead, highly detailed image was hoped for to finally lay this one to rest.

The attitude of NASA scientists was and still is derisory and dismissive regarding the possibility of the Face being artificial. Unfortunately too, Michael Malin, the head of Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) who built the Mars Orbital Camera on Surveyor and was responsible for taking all the pictures of Mars, has been publicly hostile towards Cydonia and the whole subject of The Face.

Even to the extent that he had some coffee mugs made, depicting the Viking image of the ‘Face on Mars’ and comparing it with his company’s own Mars Global Surveyor image, with the caption “In Your Face!” tattooed on the mug!

Not the attitude one would expect from a presumably open-minded scientist responsible for managing such a unique window to the universe on behalf of the human race. The pictures of Mars received from Malin's cameras have been magnificent and of immense value in the study of Mars, and great credit must go to his team for this achievement. It is just strange that such a fierce response is engendered by the subject of the Face.

However, in 2001 the Mars Global Surveyor orbiting spacecraft at last took an overhead image of The Face (pic.4), which was what researchers had been asking for all along.

(pic.4 ‘The Face’ imaged by MGS 2001. Courtesy NASA/JPL/MSSS)

So now that we can view the Face in about as much detail as we will get for a while now, what exactly is it that we can we see?

There is the suggestion of facial eye sockets, nose and a mouth area in relatively symmetrical proportion to each other. On the right hand side, there appears to be an accumulation of material obscuring what lies beneath. But perhaps the most striking feature of all, is the whole platform upon which this feature sits. The symmetry is very strong, left and right halves pretty much evenly balanced.

Other images from the orbiting science missions such as MOLA have been able to construct 3D simulated models, indicating that the similarities to a human face lessen considerably when viewed from lower altitudes and angles, and hence scientists have tended to take this as solid evidence for dismissing the artificial idea completely.

However, we should not forget that if we are to even consider the possibility that this is an artificial construction, then we must attempt to put ourselves in the minds of its creators: that they may have specifically designed it to be viewed from above.

Despite a more recent image from the HiRISE camera, we have not been able to discern significantly more detail that will help us to settle this argument once and for all. We may well have to wait until archaeologists and geologists can actually land there at the site and take a look at it.

However there are three factors which should serve to remind us of the seriousness of what we could potentially be dealing with here, and so caution us away from dismissal of this subject based simply on studies of what the close-up images look like now in this present time.

Firstly, if we are looking at possible ancient archaeology, then we must consider what such a monument might look like after many thousands of years of severe wind erosion—and Mars has some severe dust storms which can last for months at a time. But not only that. The Red planet has suffered immense cataclysms during its history, as we only have to bear witness to the massive asteroid impact zones that scar the planets surface.

Secondly, and perhaps one of the most telling aspects of all, is the inescapable fact that it looks much more like a face from high up in the sky, rather than from close up. Most of us have experienced at one time or other, seeing an oil painting which from a comfortable distance clearly conveys an image of whatever it’s about; a sunset, a landscape, a still object. But when you get up close to it, the sense of it often disappears and all your eyes see on the canvas are splashes of colour and brushstrokes. This is because the painting is meant to be seen from a certain distance.

Thirdly, Cydonia is not just about ‘The Face’ or the other large anomalous objects. It is about an array of several much smaller ‘mounds’ scattered about the area which display a high order of geometric and mathematical relationship to each other—a relationship which is on the order of many millions to one against a random chance occurrence in geology, according to statistical analyses done by physicist Dr. Horace Crater. This would constitute a highly significant signature for intelligent design and layout.

So, bearing all this in mind, the book on Cydonia and the Face on Mars, is far from closed.

And what of NASA's position regards the Face on Mars?

Well officially, according to the NASA website, NASA has 'no official position' as to what the Face on Mars is, or is not! It leaves scientists to make comments to the media or otherwise. However the most prevalent argument given for ignoring the Face on Mars, has been the reason that only 'valid scientific research' can and should be assigned NASA space mission priorities. Now, whether this position is one that planetary scientists and geologists tend to uphold, because they are more interested in studying rocks and atmospheric gases, one can only surmise.

But given the public interest and even the remote possibility that this location on Mars could harbour an extraterrestrial artifact, one can only be left to wonder at the reticence of the worlds leading space investigative body to seriously "seek out new life and civilization" on one of our closest planetary neighbours. Does NASA really believe that the study of a piece of geologically interesting rock is 'valid scientific research' that justifies taking precedence over and above a potential alien monument that may prove the human race is not alone?

I think not. It does not stand up to reason. There are far more intelligent people at NASA and in the U.S. government authorities, who know full well what the true stakes are. The ancient history of Mars will undoubtedly unfold over the coming years in exquisite and fascinating detail, and I suspect too will offer us profound knowledge of the extent to which life exists and has existed in the universe and in our very own solar system.

All we must and should do, is to keep our minds fresh, open and observant. To discover the truth about anything in this world, or on others, is not an easy accomplishment. As we all too often have seen from political and corporate bodies, vested interests will warp, distort and even hide the truth if it serves some purpose. As to what extent such a mindset has permeated, if at all, the scientific investigation of Mars, only time will tell.

There is some evidence that it may have. We can only hope that the true unfoldment of scientific discovery has not become a political tool with which to shape our lives, but remains a window through which we all can gaze out into the universe with awe and fascination.