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Friday, October 26, 2012

Cydonia: Faces of Mars

Forty nine million miles farther out from the sun than our own Earth, on the dusty plains of the planet Mars, something is watching us. At least, that is how it appears to us. The Cydonia region of the Martian landscape first sprang into the public awareness when NASA’s Mars Viking 1 Orbiter transmitted a now-famous image back to Earth in 1976.


The image appeared to show a compellingly real alien face (the black and white image, below left) – although the likeness was considerably aided by the low photographic resolution of the image, and a chance in-lens artifact which provided the right ‘nostril’. NASA dismissed it as ‘a trick of light and shadow’, but fans of The Face remained scoffingly unconvinced by this official explanation, and their faith in its artificial origin stood firm.


Aficionados of things extraterrestrial had to wait another twenty two years for further images of the formation. On April 5 1998, NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor transmitted back ultra-clear images, both of the face itself (above right) and the surrounding region (below, with the face formation positioned at 4 o’clock). I remember opening up an astronomy magazine at the time, seeing those images, and thinking, well, it’s just a rock mesa after all. Many others remained unshaken, and began to discern pyramids and even a city in the surrounding formations. Mystic alignments were plotted, measurements were taken, and a certain fittingly-named Professor Horace Crater concluded that the ‘city’ contained geometries beyond chance.


I myself have taken a certain guilty pleasure in producing my own image of a seeming pentagonal ‘pyramid’ in the region superimposed with Leonardo da Vinci’s famous drawing known as Vitruvian Man (below), the angles of which relate to universal proportions, and match other such angles, including that of the pyramid on the American dollar bill – fertile ground for conspiracy theorists of all shades and persuasions.





















Die-hard Face fans will now say that the reason the face formation looks the way that it does is simply due to erosion over time. Dust-blown Martian storms would have done their work in the eons since unknown extraterrestrial engineers sculpted the face in their endeavours to leave some tangible sign of their passing, and communicate with us across time and space. But the most recent image of the face (below), transmitted in 2010 back from the Mars HiRISE Reconnaissance Orbiter, shows the formation from a mere three hundred meters above the surface. Such a high resolution ultra close-up leaves no further room for fantasy. The face is a natural formation. End of story.













































































When seen from our Earth-bound perspective over time, the face on Mars is rather more of a sequence of faces – each one less likely to have been artificially created than the previous one. We project our ideas and beliefs onto what we perceive, and those beliefs make things real for us – until advances in science or technology, or new discoveries, or diligent research, encourage and if necessary force us both to accept new truths and to reach further into the unknown to find new mysteries.

And there are those who, for their own reasons, are either unwilling or unable to adjust to change, and who instead choose willfully to stay behind and cling to ideas and beliefs which already have been overtaken by more detailed realities, whether those beliefs are invested in the dusty surface of Mars, or in the scriptural account of the creation, or in some non-existent lost El Dorado lying perpetually out of sight around the next bend in the river.   
Hawkwood


Sources: 
Graham Hancock, with John Grigsby and Robert Bauval: The Mars Mystery

Notes:
Public domain images by NASA. Overview of the Cydonia region processed by the European Space Agency. HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) Reconnaissance Orbiter image processed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, University of Arizona.

To see another face of Mars, you’re welcome to visit my other blog:
Two Faces of Mystery

For those with the program, Google Mars gives the coordinates for the Cydonia Face as: 40°44'31,63"N by 9°27'56,22"W. The region itself is a rather patchy resolution, but the Face is hi res, and you can examine it from all angles - and as a bonus, on arrival you do get the option to chat with a Martian called Meliza - with the advice that, as Meliza is using an account on a different planet, there may be translation errors... :)

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