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The D&M Pyramid Examined

This revealing stereo-pair was made from Viking and THEMIS data. Image courtesy Chris Joseph.

Close examination of the new THEMIS image of the D&M Pyramid provides the long-awaited opportunity to re-assess the images of the formation returned by Viking. Careful comparison reveals both consistencies and new details suggesting artificiality, including an angular outcropping that appears to be a component of a larger, buried platform. It's a reasonably safe conjecture that there is much more to the D&M Pyramid than meets the eye; close-up images by the Mars Global Surveyor will allow us to explore this unique formation in better detail. At this point, we can only hope that these images will be taken in the MGS' lifetime.

Of particular interest is the nature and extent of the D&M's deformation (see previous page), which has remained a staple controversy among Cydonia researchers ("reconstructed" interpretations of the D&M result in a variety of redundant mathematical data most easily attributed to conscious design). In the new THEMIS image there seems to be a locus of destruction on the D&M that corresponds to findings from Viking imagery. This could be the result of an impacting body from space, as suggested by reader Gerry Forster.

Horever, the apparent lack of a crater (discounting the unconventional "bottomless pit" feature to the Pyramid's east) suggests that the destructive event that deformed the D&M might have been internal. Early speculation by Richard Hoagland and Dr. John Brandenburg raised the possibility that the "domed uplift" seen in the Viking photo (also visible in the significantly higher-resolution THEMIS image) is the result of "explosive penetration."

Could the D&M Pyramid have been deliberately destroyed from within by some ancient sabotage or act of war? (Brandenburg, a plasma physicist and co-author, with Monica Rix Paxson, of "Dead Mars, Dying Earth," estimates that a one-kiloton nuclear explosion could account for the damage visible seen in the Viking photo, assuming the deforming event was of an artificial nature.)

The D&M Pyramid as seen by Viking.

Unlike other formations in Cydonia, the D&M shows evidence of having been melted. The terrain around the apparent "fifth buttress" discussed in

Chaotic, "melted" terrain suggests the D&M Pyramid was partially obliterated by an explosion. No conventional impact crater is visible in the vicinity. Image courtesy Mark Carlotto.

This "flipped" image of the D&M Pyramid demonstrates near-perfect symmetry when the newly revealed angle is used as an axis. Image courtesy New Frontiers in Science.

In the stereo image above, shallow ruler-straight parallel ridges can be seen on the D&M's "western" side. Opposite these features (bottom of image) is an oblate-shaped build-up of what is probably displaced sand sheltered by the D&M. The D&M Pyramid is apparently constructed atop an expansive shallow platform that has long since been covered in sand. In my opinion, the ridges are probably evidence of this platform poking through after long exposure to wind. (The triangular outcropping seen at the top of the image is most likely of similar origin; one wonders what ground-penetrating radar images of the terrain surrounding the D&M would reveal.) Incidentally, this wind-based model compliments the scenario described by Carlotto regarding the Face, in which the "simian" western half is stripped bare, resulting in a pile-up on the eastern "feline" side. An essentially identical scenario describing Cydonia wind-action is presented by Hoagland and Bara in their article on the D&M.


"Buttresses" and "Casing" on the D&M Pyramid

Subtle details on the D&M Pyramid recall ancient terrestrial architecture. As noted by the Enterprise Mission, the D&M's "bottom" triangular facet is bracketed by two somewhat rectilinear formations that may have served as buttresses.

The most intact facet of the D&M Pyramid shows possible "buttresses" as well as what might be an eroded external casing similar to that of the Egyptian pyramids (most visible immediately left of center).

Another seemingly structural detail is also revealed on the "buttressed" facet: a shallow, meandering crack virtually identical to the ruined brick casing seen on the (relatively small-scale) pyramids in Egypt. While it is perhaps unlikely that the D&M represents architecture of an Ancient Egyptian-level civilization (if artificial), this superficial detail suggests a protective veneer of some sort. This veneer has apparently begun to crumble away, leaving the scrape-like feature seen in the picture above.

Alternatively, the area revealed by the "scrape" might be the actual surface of the D&M, and the surrounding "veneer" an encrustration of Martian soil caught in the act of slumping away. The latter scenario implies that the D&M was partially or even entirely buried at some point. The mass of soil to the D&M's east might be the remnant of this once-protective layer, stripped from the formation's surface by the same winds that reveal the parallel ridges and evocative "extra angle" seen clearly in the THEMIS image.

Possibly the most rewarding detail from the THEMIS image is this geometric angle apparently emerging from the sand. Compare to complete image of the D&M Pyramid (above.)

Conversely, perhaps this "remnant" is the sand-covered remains of a quarry used during construction of the D&M. While the prevailing notion among Cydonia investigators is that the Martian "monuments" were created by modifying existing landforms, Richard Hoagland is convinced that the explicitly nonfractal signature of the Face can only be attributed to the presence of artificial materials (in which case localized spectral surveys would add an additional level of anomaly to the Face and perhaps other formations in the Cydonia region).

Finally, George J. Haas of the Cydonia Institute notes that the proposed platform below the D&M (see previous article) shares alignments with the Fort. (I would add that since the Fort's orientation is identical to that of the Face and at least one other object in the "City" area, this alignment might prove more meaningful than suspected.) While this could be evidence of unknown geological mechanisms acting in concert, the myriad details noted on this site and others certainly give an objective observer pause. Regardless of whether the D&M Pyramid proves to be the "mathemetical Rosetta Stone" of Cydonia, as suggested by cartographer Erol Torun, its morphology and placement on the Martian surface are strange indeed.

New Frontiers in Science on the D&M Pyramid

New Frontiers in Science has posted a provocative analysis of the D&M Pyramid as imaged by the Mars Odyssey spacecraft. NFS makes an excellent point: what are the chances of two highly symmetrical anomalies (the D&M and the Face) forming naturally in such close proximity, especially as the features' respective morphologies are so different? While the Face has a generally rounded topology, the D&M is composed of hard angles that belie a simple wind-erosion model.


NASA Goes From Middle Butte to Camelback: Deja Vu All Over Again (Guest commentary by Lan Fleming)

[SPSR's Lan Fleming posted this essay on UFO UpDates a few days ago and I couldn't resist posting it here. Thanks to Lan for his permission. --M.T.]

A year ago after the last MGS image of the Mars Face was belatedly released, NASA published an article on its web site quoting an MGS scientist's assertion that a volcanic dome called Middle Butte in Idaho "reminded" him of the Mars Face. Apparently assuming that their claims would be uncritically accepted by the public, they provided no image of Middle Butte to support this supposed similarity. It took some digging, but I managed to get an orthophoto of Middle Butte, which can be seen in all of its lopsided glory at:

It says:

"A similar-size hill in Phoenix, Arizona resembles a camel lying on the ground, and Phoenicians whimsically refer to it as Camelback Mountain. Like the hills and knobs of Mars, however, Camelback Mountain was carved into its unusual shape by thousands of years of erosion."

Here's a picture of Camelback Mountain:

This is what they claim is an "unusual" landform. NASA ought to hire some scientists with better eye sight.

The Odyssey image itself, however, is quite interesting. It shows not only the Face but several other interesting Cydonia landforms first imaged by the Viking spacecraft. No amount of public relations trickery is likely to "scotch this thing for good," as one of the MGS bigshots said he hoped would be the outcome of the first MGS image of the Face back in 1998.


Five Sided Features in Cydonia

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The D&M Pyramid compared to Mound E. Image courtesy Lan Fleming.

SPSR member Horace Crater forwarded me the above collage, assembled and scaled by NASA subcontractor Lan Fleming. The comparison shows that the basic morphology of the D&M Pyramid and Mound E are intriguingly similar, if not identical. Mound E, as photographed by the Mars Global Surveyor, appears five-sided, just as the D&M appeared to Viking in the 1970s.

This discovery is thought-provoking, as the two features differ greatly in size. While the D&M was readily apparent in the Viking photos, Mound E consisted of just a few pixels. Geologically, they are two entirely different types of formations. Therefore, it seems unlikely that both shapes were formed by sheer chance, as a geomorphological interpretation would have to invoke two separate agents to account for the same shape reproduced at radically different scales on the Martian surface. On the other hand, if the D&M and Mound E are artificial structures, then only once agent needs to be proposed: intelligence.

The five-sided Main City Pyramid.

But that's not all. As observed on this site as well as in the new article in the online journal New Frontiers in Science, the City Pyramid (alternately known as the "Starfish Pyramid," for obvious reasons) also boasts a five-sided, faceted structure. Is this another coincidence or further evidence of a redundant design at work in the Cydonia complex?

Editorial comment:

So far we have detected three bilaterally symmetrical five-sided formations clustered around the Face. This helps move the Artificiality Hypothesis out of the arena of "seeing faces" and into the realm of statistical analysis. For example, how common are symmetrical five-sided "pyramids" elsewhere on Mars? To date, none have been found. Are the D&M, Mound E and Main City Pyramid the result of wind-faceting? If so, what are the chances of such faceting producing uncannily similar shapes in the immediate vicinity of the Face, which exhibits a distinctly different morphology?

As the saying goes: "The first time is happenstance; the second time is coincidence; the third time is enemy action." In this case, "enemy action" just might equate to intelligent design.


NRC Warning: Exploring Mars May Be Hazardous to Your Health

The National Research Council (NRC) has issued a report to NASA regarding "the risk of harmful effects" from "Martian biological agents." The report summarizes safety measures to be taken to ensure Earth's biosphere is spared exposure from possible Martian lifeforms, such as bacteria. While the possibility of potentially dangerous microbes is real, the issues addressed can be avoided by any technically competent mission plan. Declaring Mars a "forbidden zone" isn't a rational response to the challenge presented by possible Martian pathogens; quite likely, it's politically motivated whining designed to keep JPL at the helm with robotic ventures such as the Sample Return Mission.

NASA justifies its proposed Sample Return Mission as an important step in the "search for life" on Mars. It skillfully ignores the fact that, from a statistical point of view, a single "bucket" of Martian dirt is extremely unlikely to contain microbes or fossils. A more varied and rigorous manned search is necessary if we are to continue a serious search for alien life. In fact, many of the sites thought most likely to harbor organisms, such as the canyons of Vallis Marineris, are simply unreachable by the current generation of landers and rovers.

In the long term, a Mars exploration program based on robotic missions forms a vicious circle in terms of ever putting humans on the Martian surface. Anything a JPL lander can do, an astronaut can do more quickly, more fastidiously, and more intelligently. For this reason I oppose much of NASA's new Mars exploration timetable, which promises to keep various subcontractors very busy, but will almost certainly fail to tell us anything fundamentally new.

While the points raised by the NRC's report are certainly topical, its suggestions don't bode well for the future of crewed Mars exploration. In a field already encumbered by bureaucratic back-peddling, the last thing Mars research needs is a scientific argument arguing against manned exploration. With new frontiers come new dangers, and the NRC's premature portrait of Mars as a hostile world barred from human exploration is yet another unnecessary obstacle in our pursuit of knowledge. I hope that NASA can see the NRC's "threat" in its proper perspective and act responsibly rather than "bailing out."


2001 "Face" Ancillary Data Finally Released

2002 THEMIS image of Face.

Newly released ancillary data from Malin Space Science Systems allows definitive research on the controversial Mars Face to proceed. Lan Fleming's demonstrates that the photo of the Face recently acquired by the Mars Odyssey is more accurate than the 2001 image in terms of symmetry, despite lower resolution. This is significant, as it places the "harelip" precisely in the middle of the Face mesa, suggesting deliberate design. This confirms Mark Carlotto's orthorectification of the 2001 image (discussed on page 26.)

Writes Fleming: "[The 'harelip'] would be closer to the centerline than it appears in the MSSS enhancements, which do not take into account the parallax displacements of three-dimensional objects. This makes a subtle but important difference in the impression of the symmetry of the landform."

Equally intriguing is the discovery that the western "nostril" feature is noticeably left-of-center in the THEMIS image, while in Carlotto's orthorectified image the "nostril" lies directly on the Face's lateral centerline, ruling out the notion that it was designed to resemble a humanoid nostril. Unless the THEMIS image proves in error, it would seem the "nostril" is back in the running as a potential anthropomorphic detail.

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