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Selected Editorials Now Available at PUFOIN

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The recently revamped and expanded Paranormal and UFO Information Network (PUFOIN) has included the Cydonian Imperative among its ongoing research threads, where I will occasionally post editorials and Mars news pieces culled from this site. To visit, click here. PUFOIN is an intriguing up-and-coming site devoted to exploring unconventional ideas.


A Symbolic Interpretation of the "Hominid/Feline" Face Hypothesis

1.) Facial Asymmetry

Two dominant (and mutually exclusive) theories have been put forth to account for the Face on Mars' asymmetry, as seen in the 2001 Mars Global Surveyor image.

Richard Hoagland is a major advocate of the "feline" hypothesis, in which the eastern (Cliff-facing) side of the Face mesa represents a lion or similar animal. Although this explanation may sound dangerously post facto, it must be remembered that Hoagland made his observation ten years ago based on relatively poor-quality Viking data.

I contend that the Face's eastern half indeed looks cat-like (intentionally so or not). I tested the notion by presenting "blind" viewers with a mirrored photograph of the Face's alleged "feline" side. In the words of one participant, unaware that he was looking at a formation on the surface of another planet, "It looks like a lion."

The Face "mirrored" to produce "humanoid" and "feline" aspects. Image courtesy Chris Joseph.

On the other hand, the "feline" resemblance may be fortuitous. Mark Carlotto has made a provocative case explaining the "distorted" eastern portion as the result of wasting and sand accumulation; until ground-penetrating radar reveals whether Carlotto's proposed accumulation is just that--or a deliberate protective "casing," as argued by Hoagland and geologist Ron Nicks--the two-sided Face will remain controversial among advocates of the Artificiality Hypothesis.

If it turns out that the bifurcated Face is intentional (assuming for argument's sake that the Face tests positively for artificiality), what is the message being conveyed? It's doubtful a civilization would construct a mile-long face without a compelling cultural reason. Therefore, the symbolic aspect of the "hominid/feline" Face is presumably far from trivial, and may be a true "message" from an extraterrestrial intelligence.

2.) Aesthetic/Symbolic Implications

But what are "hominids" and "cats" doing on Mars?

In the "Dawn of Man" sequence in Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," a tribe of luckless protohumans is depicted living alongside predatory panthers. The protohumans' social evolution is accelerated when an alien "monolith" appears, inspiring the use of tools and weapons; the hunted become the hunters. (Humankind's ascent as a tool-using species is dramatized by the famous scene in which a bone, thrown skyward by a triumphant ape-man, is juxtaposed with a space station placidly orbiting the Earth hundreds of thousands of years later.)

The western side of the Face resembles a human ancestor such as homo erectus.

Perhaps the Darwinian saga of "2001" is retold by the hybrid Martian Face. The fusion of humanoid and feline forms results in an aesthetic friction between prey and predator; the Face might represent the advent of intelligence on Earth by drawing forth images from our evolutionary past.

As an enfolded metaphor, the Face is a subtle but effective attempt to memorialize our species' origins. If our ancestors hadn't responded to the threat posed by carnivores, it's doubtful that intelligence as we know it would have arisen; by remaining evolutionary spectators, early humans would probably have gone extinct. By taking an active role in ensuring their survival, early humans ensured that the challenges posed by predators (symbolized by the Face's lionesque half) became catalysts for evolutionary change.

That a human-built space probe took a picture of the Face on Mars is itself proof of our species' tenacity and well as a mute reminder that our status as Earth's dominant species is as fragile now as it was millennia ago, on the shores of the African savannah.

Humanity has only recently acquired the technology to exterminate itself; the "message" of the Face--assuming it has one--comes at an important (and perhaps crucial) juncture.

A Mayan example of human/cat split-imagery. Image courtesy The Cydonia Institute.

If the feline interpretation of the Face is correct, how did "humanoid" and "feline" forms come to be on Mars? Is the Face evidence that our evolution was observed (or even orchestrated) by others...? Is homo sapiens the trophy in some bizarre interplanetary pantheon?

These are questions best dealt with in the arena of cultural anthropology. Until our definition of SETI is expanded to include the study of possible artifacts on our solar system, answers will remain forever elusive.


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Laughable New Article Suggests "Face" is Alive

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The Face as seen from the west. Image courtesy Chris Joseph.

A new perspective on the controversial "Face" has appeared online, courtesy of Norman Bergrun. Unfortunately, Bergrun's article reads rather like the oft-cited tabloid expose equating the Face to Elvis Presley...only the science writers at "Weekly World News" are slightly more credible.

The latest in a long sequence of "the 'Face' has altered its appearance since the 1970s" diatribes that began in 1998, Bergrun discards the notion that NASA "blasted" the Face in favor of something much more nonsensical: the Face itself is changing its form on the Martian surface in a deliberate attempt to attact Earth's attention. (Apparently Bergrun has no idea that the various images of the Face were taken under different lighting conditions and viewing angles, which produce the "changing" facial features referred to in his article.)

"At this point, one thing is for sure...substantial change in appearance has occurred since the NASA Viking 1 images were obtained in 1976," writes Bergrun, whose book, "The Ringmakers of Saturn," documents the alleged presence of gigantic spacecraft in the outer Solar System. Bergrun's supposed "research" on the Face hit the Web only after several vague, conspiratorial updates informed readers that Bergrun's work was being hampered by unnamed individuals. (Try harder next time, guys.)

Readers interested in distinguishing fact versus fiction concerning the "Face on Mars" are heartily discouraged from clicking here.


Russians Urge International Manned Mars Mission

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Russian scientists have issued an official invitation to NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) requesting a commitment to a crewed mission to the Red Planet by 2014. The mission's estimated cost is $20 billion (compared to the $200 billion price calculated by NASA during George Bush, Sr.'s administration). Using technologies developed by Mars Society president Robert Zubrin ("The Case for Mars"), I suspect the $20 billion figure can be slashed considerably, especially given the recent discovery of vast amounts of water ice beneath the Martian soil.


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So should we take the Russians up on their offer? The answer is yes. A partnership with Russia, whose experience with space physiology is unmatched by the United States (despite mantric NASA protests that we "don't know enough" about the effects of microgravity on the human body), is precisely what a crewed mission to Mars requires. Furthermore, such a venture will put the International Space Station to much-needed use, either as a technological test-bed or perhaps even serving as ready-made components for a Mars-bound craft. A human presence on Mars in the early 21st century is crucial if we want to become a spacefaring species, offering scientific rewards such as the means to perform a robust search for Martian life (past and present) and on-site examination of anomalous surface features.

It's vitally important that Mars exploration is cut loose from JPL's present dogmatic approach. As discussed in previous additions to this site, NASA's Mars exploration timetable is utterly dependent on robotic missions of insufficient scientific scope (i.e., the Mars Sample Return Mission, tentatively slated for 2010 or even later). The last ten years have witnessed a great deal of Mars "talk," but with no ultimate strategy or overriding intention (unless one counts keeping subcontractors like Malin Space Science Systems employed as planetary science's raison d'etre.)

Russia's offer of international partnership comes at the right time; together, we are far more prepared for a crewed journey to Mars than the United States was prepared to make the relatively quaint three-day jaunt to the Moon in the 1960s. A trip to Mars is not wishful science-fantasy; it's completely doable, and the potential scientific payback is near-infinite (if we can establish what "killed" Mars, it's possible we can use this knowledge to spare Earth a similar fate.)


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Write to NASA. Write to Congress. If you haven't already, sign the Mars Society's Mars Petition. Regardless of extraterrestrial artifacts, Mars promises epic gifts to the human future in space and on Earth, but only if we seize the moment.


Mars Odyssey Takes Infrared Photo of Face and D&M (Updated)

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The Mars Odyssey's THEMIS has taken a first-ever infrared (IR) photo of Cydonia, showing us the Face and D&M Pyramid radiating daylight heat into the Martian atmosphere. Unfortunately, the IR image tells us nothing new or unexpected; basically, all the image says is that portions of landforms illuminated directly by the sun are hotter than portions that aren't, which comes as no particular surprise. While the IR image is a welcome contribution to the study of the Cydonia region, it provides no evidence confirming or refuting the Artificiality Hypothesis.

The Mars Odyssey spacecraft with THEMIS instrument package.

A night-time IR image is neeed to help test the notion that the Face and D&M Pyramid are (at least partially) hollow, and thus almost certainly non-natural; landforms, natural and otherwise, radiate heat in distinct ways. If the Face is hollow and/or composed of materials other than native rock, we should expect to find a thermal emission "signature" telling us as much. Zeroing in on this possibility, Richard Hoagland has posted a false-color image of the D&M, claiming that the new THEMIS image shows "honeycomb"-like internal structure.

In my opinion, Hoagland's assertion is rash; more study is necessary before definitive conclusions can be reached. And given the nature of the THEMIS data, it's highly doubtful if the burning question of possible artificiality can be answered until new images are acquired.

The D&M Pyramid seen in infrared. Light areas are "hot," dark areas are cooler.

Compare the resolution of the THEMIS infrared image of the D&M with the image taken with the THEMIS' visible-wavelength camera (above). Animation courtesy New Frontiers in Science.

Infrared image of the Face.

THEMIS visible-wavelength image of Face. Compare resolution to that of infrared image.

For periodic updates from The Enterprise Mission, click here.

Thanks to Chris Joseph for the IR enlargements.


Update: MSNBC Coverage of THEMIS Image

Circumstantial Evidence of Internal Structure in D&M Pyramid

In the most articulate commentary yet concerning the new infrared daytime image of Cydonia, researcher Bob Harrison (Cydonia Quest) presents circumstantial evidence that the D&M Pyramid may reveal thermal peculiarities consistent with artificial structure.

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