Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Faces, Faces Everywhere

Such faces made headlines again near the end of 2006, when Mars Express, an orbiter from the European Space Agency, captured the highest-quality three-dimensional images to date of what looks like a face in the Cydonia region of Mars. The photos reignited conspiracy theories that governments on Earth are trying to hide the existence of intelligent life on Mars.

(Via The Anomalist.)

Count on the New York Times to regurgitate the Face on Mars "conspiracy theory" meme.

The three-dimensional image in question is, of course, the one that shows a perfectly nonexistent "horn" between the eyes. Noting that the horn doesn't conform to the same data used to derive two other Mars Express Face images is simple observation, not a wild-eyed "theory."

Click here for more.


W.M. Bear said...

Yeah, pretty stupid, I thought. We all knew about simulacra anyway -- no big news there. The whole point of the Mars anomalies community (in my understanding, anyway) is that yes, while we're aware of the possibility of explaining the Face away as a simulacrum, various considerations (such as many of the ones you've pointed out, Mac) make this kind of explanation unlikely (though not, of course, absolutely impossible -- that will require more evidence than we not only don't have but CAN'T have until human beings ourselves walk the ever-shifting sands of Mars....)

Brent said...

I like the attribute "skull"

Mac said...


The feature the ESA is calling a "skull" *isn't* the Face. I think they're trying to confuse the issue with that image.

Carol Maltby said...

My screen's a little dusty, so I read the header as "Feces, Feces, Everywhere" -- which alas, says much about some of the talk about the Face we've encountered over the years.

Brent, if you take a closer look, that feature recently labeled as a "skull" only gives a fleeting resemblence to a skull. The depressions are actually quite wrong for a skull.

Context is also important. That feature was discussed as far back as 1998, but no mention of a resemblence to a skull was ever uttered back then. That's because the image we saw at the time, one taken from overhead, showed no resemblence to a face or skull whatsoever.

One of the criteria often suggested for determining whether a geological feature might be a huge sculpture, would be that it
appears to be appropriate for its subject matter if seen from several angles. Think about those "Old Man of the Mountain" crags which usually only show that way in profile, compared to the sculptures at Mt. Rushmore.

W.M. Bear said...

BTW, Carol, the Old Man in the Mountain (NH version, anyway) is no more. A few years back, some superpatriotic idiots tried to plant an American flag on top of it and the whole "profile" just crumbled away. Hopefully the Face will prove more durable when human beings finally reach Mars (although NASA's photographic messing with it is certainly in the same league as trashing the Old Man).