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3-27-02

Ellipsoidal Formations Near Cerberus Platform

The presence of the Face caused researchers Vincent DiPietro and Richard Hoagland to discover additional oddities in the Cydonia region (the D&M Pyramid and the City, respectively). While the MGS images of the Cerberus region do not reveal any obvious signature of intelligence (unless one is willing to attribute the Platform's remarkable symmetry to conscious design), there are two nearby ellipsoidal formations that might warrant a careful look. For purposes of easy reading, I've dubbed these formations Platform Ellipse 1 (PE1) and Platform Ellipse 2 (PE2).

Platform Ellipse 1 is adjacent to the Cerberus Platform and shares some superficial characteristics both with the Platform and Platform Ellipse 2 (see below).

Description:

Both formations are similar in size and shape, with an elongated perimeter and central spine or ridge. PE1 is situated to the southwest of the Platform, and appears to have faint signs of angular "buttressing" similar to that of the Platform. The impression is of a naturally occurring feature having been subjected to alteration, or of a ruin at the brink of receding into the terrain. Flanking its top is an apron of accumulated sand that bears a vague similarity to the "headdress" formation visible on both the Cerberus Platform and the Cydonia Face. I interpret this to be a build-up of wind-blown material from the Ellipse's southern side, which, lacking a similar apron, appears the most eroded of the two. Also in the vicinity is a heavily eroded and partially buried impact crater. The origin of the sand filling the crater is evidently the same as that which covers the top of the Platform, effectively burying any structural debris (assuming artificiality).

As noted on the previous page, the various rounded "knobs" seen protruding (seemingly at random) from the Platform's surface may prove to be uppermost remnants of an arcology-style habitat. Perhaps THEMIS data from the Mars Odyssey spacecraft can help assist in this matter as well as resolve the lingering debate over a possible artificial substrate beneath the Face.

Platform Ellipse 2 bears a general appearance to the Cliff feature in Cydonia, complete with central angled defile. Note peculiar dark areas, indicating substantial damage and possible hollow interior.

The second Ellipse is more tantalizing. Bearing a general resemblance to the enigmatic Cliff feature in Cydonia, PE2 is topped by an elevated ridge suggestive of the mile-long angled "ramp" that runs the length of the Cliff. As a work of potential architecture, PE2 seems to be somewhat more preserved than its companion (possibly due to its distance from the impact that produced the eroded crater rim noted above). But while PE2 appears in generally sharper relief, it shows distinct signs of damage attributable to meteor bombardment, conventional wasting, or possibly structural decay.

The unusual dark areas are of specific interest because they appear to be a very local phenomenon. The MSSS image strip shows no sign of similar "holes" except for a scattering of unusually dark craters (some with attendant radial "streaking"). Whatever their cause, the dark crevasses evident on PE2's western edge appear to be quite deep; there doesn't seem to be anything blocking the sun's rays, suggesting that these are unusually deep "punctures" in the terrain, perhaps leading to underground compartments. (Another dark area is observed on the formation's southern side, but this appears consistent with a meteor strike.)

One of several conspicuously dark craters in the vicinity of the Cerberus anomalies.

Comment:

While there is nothing blatantly artificial about these two formations, they seem strange enough to warrant mention. But my most important reason for including them is their proximity to the Cerberus Platform: it seems logical that if the Platform is artificial, then other local features may exhibit signs of artificiality. It would certainly be foolish not to look. For, if Tobias Owen had never looked closely at Cydonia and found the Face, Vincent DiPietro and Richard Hoagland would never have discovered the features we now know as the D&M Pyramid and City. The Face on Mars would have remained just that: a curious lone face, in itself evidence of nothing in particular.

With objective evidence that the Face may be artificial now available, it is only reasonable to follow through with an exhaustive search for anomalous formations elsewhere on Mars. The Cerberus Platform seems a good place to start, if and when we are to place the Martian enigmas in appropriate context.


Dark Streaks in Vicinity of Platform Ellipse

[The following email from Lan Fleming astutely points out the enigma posed by the dark streaks found next to one of the Platform Ellipses. --M.T.]

Mac,

I also had noticed what you call "Platform Ellipse 2". What I found most interesting about it is that If you "zoom out" to about 50% full resolution (see attached jpeg), you'll see that there are two faint streaks of dark dust extending out from the black holes to the lower left of the image. What makes this interesting is that irregularly shaped, elongated craters cluster in the same areas as the dark streaks. The crater density drops off sharply to either side of the streaks and are of the more usual circular shape.

I see two possible interpretations: one is that a cluster of meteoroids struck the planet surface at a low grazing angle, leaving a swath of elongated craters and terminating at the two black holes in the landform. That would mean that the elongated craters are clustered within the wind-blown dust streaks by mere coincidence; the elongated craters themselves would show more evidence of darkening if the black material were from the meteoroids. And the two black holes in the landform don't look anything like meteor craters to me.

The second possibility is that both the elongated craters and the dust streaks were caused by explosive events within the "Ellipse" landform itself. The explosions might have opened the two black holes and expelled the dark dust and more substantial crater-forming ejecta at the same time and in the same direction. However, the density of craters on the landform itself seems to be greater around the two holes, which tends to favor the external meteoroid impact theory, where the debris would be moving toward the landform instead of away from it. I can't decide between the two alternatives. Both are interesting, but the second is obviously the more interesting.

After someone points out an unusual feature I think most of us veterans of these "anomaly hunts" almost reflexively start looking for more unusual features nearby. It seems that very often, they don't occur in isolation. As you observed, this "Ellipse" landform might be related somehow to the platform that Nate and/or Greg Orme first reported.

[It seems possible that the dark streaks are signs of carbon (i.e., "soot"). The array of apparent dark "punctures" in the terrain to the left- hand side of Platform Ellipse 2 suggest an explosive event of some kind, and one is left to wonder if this is a natural phenomenon or else the aftermath of some sort of ancient Martian "bombing raid." Dr. John Brandenburg has suggested that the D&M Pyramid's "domed uplift" might be evidence of "explosive penetration," and has estimated that a 1 KT nuclear explosion could have produced the deformation seen in the Viking photo. Intriguingly, the same sort of "soot" visible in the Cerberus image-strip is prevalant on and around the D&M Pramid in Cydonia. With any luck, THEMIS data from the Mars Odyssey can help determine what we're seeing. --M.T.]


4-7-02

NASA Offers Evidence of Life on Mars

Was Sagan Memorial Station once green?

Mars researchers Carole Stoker and Pascal Ashwanden of NASA's Ames Research Center have detected signs of chlorophyll at the Pathfinder landing site. If this discovery is confirmed, the argument for primitive life on the Red Planet will be effectively cinched. While Stoker and Ashwanden's work should certainly not go unremarked, NASA's continued treatment of the prospect of relatively advanced Martian life is peculiarly myopic. The space agency has yet to offer an explanation for the apparent tree-like life-forms pointed out repeatedly by Arthur C. Clarke.

The "banyan trees" of Mars. If not biology...what?

NASA's reluctance to take a scientific initiative concerning extant Martian life is most likely due to the political squabbles that define access to the Mars Global Surveyor (see "NASA's 'Search for Life' a Charade" on page 23).

The available evidence indicates that Mars is not a dead world at all, but a surprisingly hospitable planet with abundant micro- and macro-scopic organisms. While researching Mars' biological past is of obvious crucial importance, such tentative studies are overshadowed by the prospect of existing life. With the international space science community making further discoveries bearing out the hypothesis of a "living Mars," it is only a matter of time until NASA's present conceit must undergo a shattering redefinition.

In many ways, NASA's dealings with Martian biology remind me of mainstream SETI's "not in my backyard" philosophy concerning extraterrestrial intelligence. The dominant paradigm seeks to displace the potential of ET life in time and space; collectively, we seem to want to find life "out there," yet balk when confronted with evidence that threatens prevailing assumptions.


4-12-02

New THEMIS Image Shows Face, D&M Pyramid and Fort

The Face as viewed by the Mars Odyssey's Thermal Emission Imaging System.

As promised, NASA has released a revealing new image of the Cydonia region showing the Face, Fort and -- most interestingly -- the D&M Pyramid, which had not been photographed in its entirety since the Viking mission. True to shape-from-shading models, the Face remains facelike, with "mouth," "eye" and cleanly defined framing mesa.

Left: Frame 70A13, taken at a higher sun-angle, demonstrates the persistence of the facial resemblance and effectively dispels NASA's "trick of light and shadow" explanation. Right: Frame 35A72 (enhanced). Images courtesy Mark Carlotto.

The best image of the Face to date, taken by the Mars Global Surveyor.

Renewed debunking attempts such as the condescending essay posted on Space.com are predictable and rather desperate. (Instead of comparing the Face to the utterly natural-looking Middle Butte formation, as exposed by Lan Fleming of SPSR, Face detractors have now identified a camel-shaped formation in Arizona that supposedly solves the mystery in Cydonia. While hills shaped like camels might fulfill the agenda of the mainstream press, searching Earth for arbitrary likenesses does little to advance objective Face research. The official THEMIS/aSU site concedes that nature is "imaginative." Given the Face's mathematically nonfractal signature, described in detail by Mark Carlotto, "uncanny" seems a more appropriate word choice. Tellingly, Space.com avoids mentioning the D&M Pyramid and Fort, both of which are plainly visible on the THEMIS image-strip.)

The best view of the D&M Pyramid to date reveals an enigmatic, angular formation with a high degree of lateral symmetry. Image courtesy New Frontiers in Science.

The D&M Pyramid remains pyramidal when seen in higher resolution. Interestingly, it reveals further evidence of geometry. The "debris flow" described in Richard Hoagland's "The Monuments of Mars" is seen in much greater detail. The "flow" is a narrow, winding feature that emanates from the damaged-looking northwest flank and "tunnel," as revealed in the shape-from-shading enhancement below.

The D&M Pyramid as seen by Viking. Note apparent damage and dark "tunnel" opening. Image courtesy Mark Carlotto.

Note the peculiar cluster of debris at the end of the "flow." As the only such "crumbled" feature in Cydonia, this secondary anomaly deserves special attention. Could the unique, abruptly terminating "flow" be evidence of a meteor impact or explosion that deformed the D&M Pyramid, assuming it once exhibited more lateral symmetry? Also note the conspicuous angles emerging from the surrounding terrain, suggesting that the D&M was originally positioned atop a shallow platform of some sort (possibly of the proposed "seawall" variety suggested by the Fort, Face and Cerberus Platform).

Hopefully new images, taken at different sun angles, will assist efforts to make sense of the formations under investigation.


Triangular "Pictogram" Also Imaged by THEMIS

The Pictogram as seen by THEMIS. The outermost triangular "ditch" is just barely visible.

The unusual triangular "Pictogram" discovered in 1998 is visible in the new THEMIS image. Despite the relatively lower resolution, the triangular "moat" that comprises the outermost of the "embedded triangles" can also be seen, consistent with observations made by Richard Hoagland (see "When is a Martian 'Crater' Not A Crater?"), Tom Van Flandern and others. The Pictogram's redundant geometry makes it an especially intriguing feature.

The small tetrahedral pyramid immediately north of Pictogram's central triangle is conceivably offset from north by 19.5 degrees. Image courtesy David Jinks.

For a high-resolution view of the central "Pictogram" feature and nearby tetrahedral pyramid, click here. (Cydonia researchers have noted that the "Pictogram," whatever it is, is aligned due Martian north. More shocking is David Jinks' suggestion that the small tetradedral pyramid is offset from north by 19.5 degrees, implying a high-level mathematical raison d'etre for this unique feature.)

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