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10-29-01

New "Faces" on Mars: Evidence of...What?

Rarely a month goes by without new Martian "faces" discovered by armchair archaeologists. Most of them are dubious profiles with only vague resemblances to terrestrial counterparts. More than a few demand significant "retouching" before they can be made to look like anything in particular. So who's to say what might be a candidate extraterrestrial artifact and what's not?

Lionesque likeness near Mars' north pole.

The image above shows a formation resembling a lion's head seen in profile. Is this the work of intelligence or the result of natural forces? The latter is the most likely explanation for several reasons. For example, there is nothing intrinsically unique about the "lion's head." When viewed in geological context, one quickly sees that it is a single component in the vast canvas of swirls that is Mars' northern polar cap.

Given the complexity from which to choose, it comes as no surprise that at least one portion has a terrestrial likeness. Compounding the argument against intelligent manufacture is the fact that the "lion's head" is seen in profile. When reviewing a profile image for signs of artificiality, suggestive properties such as bisymmetry are unavailable for analysis. This doesn't necessarily imply that all profiles are natural formations, but it certainly makes proper scientific assessment much more difficult, if not impossible.

"A Princess of Mars"? Graphic by John Levasseur.

Probably the best Martian profile discovered thus far is John Levasseur's "Nefertiti," which exhibits some very human-looking anatomical detail. It's just possible that the "Nefertiti" formation, with its peculiar Egyptian appearance, deserves more study than it has received.

Recently, much online attention has been attracted to an imposing-looking human face, complete with headdress (below).

This startling likeness is the product of mirroring a single image to produce a predictably bisymmetric "face."

However, the very human-like appearance is the result of "mirroring" a single image. While there are facial attributes, they do not comprise an entire face; only subjective interpretation can produce the image above. Below is the Martian landscape seen prior to speculative mirroring. It appears less-than-impressive, especially after having viewed the "reconstructed" version.

Another Martian face, or just filling in the blanks?

As discussed elsewhere, I personally think the Cydonia face was intended to represent two separate visages, as supported by Richard Hoagland's a priori prediction that the two halves were designed to encode hominid/feline imagery. Some commentators suggest that the Face was meant to represent something more, and cite mirrored, "upside-down" graphics such as the one below as evidence that the Face includes a (very) cleverly inserted portrait of a "Gray" alien.

Alleged "Gray," artistically enhanced.

I don't think the "alien" likeness passes scientific muster. The impression requires too much imagination on behalf of the viewer, and too much speculative "restoration" in order to be seen in the first place. (In the numerous "Gray" reconstructions, the Face's hominid side is mirrored and the large groove corresponding to a "mouth" is bifurcated to produce questionable "eyes" such as the ones seen on the cover of Whitley Strieber's 1987 book "Communion.")

"Alien" painting by Ted Seth Jacobs.

I contend that we are culturally conditioned to expect the visage of a big-headed, big-eyed "Gray" when confronted with photos alluding to extraterrestrial intelligence. That we managed to find a "Gray" lurking in the curves of the enigmatic Face on Mars comes as no particular surprise, especially after realizing the demanding steps required to bring out the supposed "alien" image. On the other hand, if we admit that the Face was perhaps designed to encode hominid and feline forms, as argued by Hoagland, then who is to say with absolute certainty that the "Gray" likeness is purely fanciful?

As the dubious appearance of a "Gray" came only after the acquisition of a high-resolution overhead view of the Face, it's predictive scientific merit is zero. This is in sharp contrast to Hoagland's hominid/feline model, which was predicted ten years before the Mars Gobal Surveyor captured the latest image of the Face.

If the features in Cydonia are artificial, we will likely find additional structures elsewhere on the Martian surface. In the meantime, the search continues unabated.


10-30-01

Technique for Assessing Artificiality of "Profile" Surface Features

[John Levasseur, discoverer of the "Nefertiti" formation (see above) and member of the Society for Planetary SETI Research, has developed a practical method of determining the probability that a given Martian surface feature is artificial. The a priori argument presented in Levasseur's essay is strong, and offers the most stringent criteria yet for objectively assessing the problematic "profiles" that litter the Martian surface. Thanks to John for allowing his paper to debut here. --M.T.]

The Out-of-Frame Hypothesis as Applied to MGS Image #M0202619

by J.P. Levasseur

Based on the impressionistic hypothesis there is a large-scaled rendering of a cat upon the Martian surface, 6 km or so in length, surface features consistent with feline features outside the 3 km wide frame can be predicted. In my opinion, the impression of a big cat is strong, having a very good head, shoulder with extended left front leg, and torso. The two right legs appear to cross as if in a trot. There is a very good ear, a loosely hanging bottom lip, a long back, a belly, a pupil in the eye and a nostril in the nose. It appears to be wearing a collar.

The suspicion that there are probably more hills, mounds, and raised areas continuing out of frame to complete what appears as large scaled art can be tested with new imagery: a feline left claw either in a closed or open position, a hind leg and haunches, and most importantly, a long tail of some kind either extended or curled. The tail is important because it should extend uninterrupted, long, smooth and slender for a considerable distance, a somewhat unusual surface feature.

The a priori prediction is that new imagery will show recognizable feline features continuing out of the MGS M0202619 frame lining up and completing those seen in frame and done so with the same type of mounds and hills.

Should the predicted feline features indeed appear in any new images taken of the area, features that at this time that have not yet been seen, there will be support for the cat art hypothesis, and thus support for many other suspected artistic features such as the Cydonia Face and the “Nefertiti” Face, to name only two.

If the out of frame surface features do not complete the pattern of the cat then the cat art hypothesis will be in question.

Of course it probably won’t be conclusive because impacts and/or erosion could have disfigured the pattern, or if, say, the cat ends up having a bobbed tail.

Testing this hypothesis means having new images of what’s just outside the available frame. The context image does not have sufficient resolution and there appear to be no other usable MGS images. New images are needed. The chance of acquiring an image that would satisfactorily provide a test for this hypothesis in the near future is remote.

The head is very good but looks somewhat small for the body and legs. The emission angle (perspective) isn’t the cause of this because the ancillary data puts the camera almost directly overhead and the feature is almost in the middle of the image. (The slant distance and altitude are equal.) But the aspect ratio is 0.91. This means the ratio of the vertical meters per pixel rate to the horizontal meters per pixel rate in this image are not equal. I tried “stretching” the image vertically by about ten percent and the head looked a little better proportioned, but this is by no means an aspect ratio “correction”, a procedure I am not familiar with. Nevertheless, I consider the impression of the big cat so strong that I am still not deterred by this slight skewing problem.

There is always the contention that we should not be seeing artistic renderings of what we see on Earth today, that the existence of artistic patterns depicting human faces and animals of recent evolution on Earth are ludicrous and embarrassing claims. But these arguments rest on flimsy origins-related assumptions, like that any artificial Martian objects would be built only in the very distant past by an indigenous civilization, one that should exhibit (ironically) earth-like infrastructure. Skeptics have for decades made similar non-arguments regarding the humanoid Cydonia Face. But there are many other possibilities that cannot be ruled out at this stage. For example, some scientists seriously consider the interesting idea of ETI periodically passing through the solar system (something predicted statistically by Sagan over thirty years ago) and leaving its mark on the planet. In this case the renderings need not be of them but maybe of us and other Earth images. They could have been made at almost any time, and need not require infrastructure such as roads, which would not have been necessary if the builders are flying and not living there. As far as I’m concerned, this idea is as plausible a scenario as any at this point because we are not in any position at this stage to say what or what cannot be found on that planet or how it got there. Humanoid faces and “modern” cats aren’t necessarily ruled out. There are many origins ideas. Arguing that these different scenarios are implausible doesn’t make the evidence go away.

The methodology of the out-of-frame hypothesis is identical to that applied to the Cydonia Face for the last twenty years: Predictions based on impressionistic assumptions of artistic artificiality are tested when these predicted features appear or do not appear in new or better imagery. In the case of the Cydonia Face, scientists have predicted more facial features, more detail in these features, and symmetry. Contrary to what’s written in the popular media, many of these predictions turned out to be accurate. The out-of-frame predictions are being made in exactly the same manner, with exactly the same types of assumptions regarding suspected artistry, and are to be tested in exactly the same manner using new imagery.

There are a number of other Martian artistic surface features that researchers, including myself, claim to see. In my opinion some are very compelling, even better than the Puma, the “Nefertiti” Face a prime example. Skeptics argue researchers are “looking at clouds”, yet the artificial verses the natural can be discerned even in clouds… I for one can readily distinguish a jet contrail from natural clouds in the sky. The attached so-called collared Puma image is in my opinion an excellent candidate for artificiality. But the Puma image is unique because of the way it is chopped off on either side of the image strip, lending itself well to this method of making out-of-frame predictions. The hypothesis will be tested when/if new images of this area will confirm or deny the out-of-frame predictions of extended feline features based on the impression of an artistic rendering of a Puma in NASA/JPL/MGS image #M0202619.

[Note: Reactions to this piece have been highly skeptical concerning the reality of the "puma" in Levasseur's picture. This is understandable. However, the nature of the so-called "puma" is not the reason for this article appearing here. Rather, Levasseur's a priori method for assessing Martian features in general is what impressed me. Inclusion of the above essay doesn't constitute an "endorsement" of the "puma," but recognition of the scientific predictive potential of the "out-of-frame" method. --M.T.]


11-16-01

Another Unusual Martian Crater

Keith Laney has located a Martian crater that features an interestingly geometric "stadium"-like formation near its center. Also of interest is the semicircular feature near the crater's left-hand lip.


11-18-01

Another Weird Crater...

"One small step...?"

The image above shows what appears to be a crater surrounded by concentric rings, perhaps caused by the shock of the impact. But the nature of the impacting object -- assuming this is a meteoric crater -- is mysterious. The caldera is interestingly "leveled," much like a large-scale mining operation on Earth. The center of the formation consists of bright rectilinear furrows and the right "wall" of the crater appears unnaturally straight. One does not typically expect craters to exhibit "straightness." Although Mars' erosion can certainly produce interesting effects that suggest artificial construction, the crater above (looking somewhat like a "bootprint") seems well-preserved. That the narrow concentric rings are visible at all implies that this crater appears much as it did when it was formed. That is, of course, assuming it's a crater . . .

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