Monday, August 9, 2010

"Face" on Mars Now Shown to be Just Rocks

New close-up of rocky outcropping that created the "face."

A massive shape on the surface of Mars in the likeness of a human face spawned countless conspiracy theories in recent decades, but modern technology now confirms it is simply a large, rocky hill in a Martian desert.

Back in July, 1976, the famous "face" photo was taken by the American Viking 1 Orbiter. Within days, enthusiasts were convinced the face was man-made or had been built by Martians aeons ago as part of an ancient civilization. There were many theories about the presence of the human-like face, and nearly all concluded that NASA was part of a huge cover-up to conceal the face’s true origins.

Now a new photo ~ taken with NASA’s high-definition HiRISE camera and released last week ~ reveals the craggy rock formations that create the effect of human features.

According to the London Mail:
This is the closest-ever image of the famous outcrop which should, once and for all, scotch the conspiracy theorists who believe that the 'face' is conclusive evidence of intelligent life on Mars. 
Today's image was taken by HiRISE from on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter which can pick out incredible detail from 300 kilometres above the planet’s surface. The rocky formation is known as a mesa, a large rocky outcrop with a flat top and steep, cliff-like sides. The Face’ mesa is in the Cydonia region and is a couple of miles long and a few hundred feet high. 
. . . NASA even added to the theory by referring to the picture's human likeness in the caption it added to the photo when it first released it to the general public. The outcrop looked a little like a face, complete with eyes, nose and mouth, because of the angle of the sun and its cratered surface, and NASA happily pointed this fact out.
Seeing human faces in inaminate objects is known as "pareidolia" and is why so many people see what they believe is the face of Jesus in tea leaves, clouds and even burnt toast, the Mail pointed out. Carl Sagan believed humans are 'hard-wired' to find human faces wherever possible as part of our survival instinct.

Smaller photo shows the famous Martian "face."
Click here for the complete article and a video.


christopher said...

Were I a face enthusiast, I would be unconvinced by this photo because how could you prove to me that you were photographing the same area with just this photo? I cannot recognize the surrounding.

However, I am fairly sure that this is a second time around. There was an earlier close up that devolved the face some years ago. I distinctly remember it but not when, perhaps in the nineties? I always hate it when the hope of things mysterious is dashed.

I note in me a demand for an animate past on Mars, a demand for the revelation we were indeed visited in the distant past here on planet earth. It seems to be built in to me, a yearning for the one time presence of the Cosmic Others. I also wanted when I was a child to have as part of my own destiny a direct connection to elsewhere. This is, I am convinced, why I favor fantasy over reality. It has led to a burning question. Why on earth is this yearning so insistent in me? Why do I wish for this escape so much? Reality's demands squash my heart but my yearning does not die. My yearning remains.

What is that?

Those who belittle it just force my contempt. To attempt to excise this yearning for otherness in me cuts too close to the quick.

"Where there's smoke, there's fire." Surely that's true. No??
Remove this hope and I might die.

Gregory LeFever said...

I agree completely, Christopher. While I've not focused on Mars per se, I become disheartened at the ongoing negation and belittling of "cosmic others" and similar ideas that tend to provide us with an element of enchantment. So many of these things ~ even if they never are "scientifically" validated ~ certainly carry great symbolic value and enrich our lives.

I suspect there's a part in most of us that yearns for "a direct connection to elsewhere." Whether people want to admit it is another thing.

Thanks for visiting and posting such an intriguing comment!