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10-01-03

Review of Michael Cremo's "Human Devolution" Posted

I've posted an extended review of Michael Cremo's highly anticipated "Human Devolution: A Vedic Alternative to Darwin's Theory" on my UFO Book Reviews page. While "Human Devolution" is neither a Mars book nor a UFO book (although it contains a chapter devoted to the UFO phenomenon), I can't help but feel that Cremo has touched upon the Cydonia mystery -- if only peripherally and perhaps unwittingly.


Yet Another New Image of the Face on Mars

Malin Space Science Systems has revealed a new image of the Face on Mars. This is the fourth such image that MSSS has acquired and posted to its website since the "definitive" overhead photo released in 2001. The new image shows a portion of the "headdress" and the western ("simian") half of the Face, which includes the "eye" and rectilinear "teardrop" features.

The newest image of the Face.

One may reasonably ask why MSSS appears so interested in the Face. Dr. Mike Malin, operator of the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) aboard the Mars Global Surveyor orbiter, is infamous among Cydonia-watchers for his attempts to debunk notions of artificiality at Cydonia as well as for citing the purported difficulty of photographing the Face formation. The multiple overpasses revealed in the MSSS online catalogue seem to contradict Malin's public statements by indicating a sincere interest in the Face -- as well as confirming the Surveyor's ability to acquire new Cydonia imagery "on demand." If the recent release of the D&M Pyramid mosaic is any indication (see previous page), then perhaps the newly unveiled Face image is a harbinger of further long-awaited Cydonia images.


10-15-03

Manned Chinese Space Mission Successful

Today China made history by becoming the third country to place a human in space. Compared to the Apollo missions of the 1960s, this feat seems minor. But it might prove catalytic. China harbors ambitious plans for space -- not limited to unmanned probes and Earth orbital missions such as the ones planned for the retooled American Space Shuttle fleet. In light of China's intention to establish a base on the Moon as early as 2008, NASA's agenda may be forced into something similarly far-reaching.

Some space commentators think the chances of China's launching a new "Space Race" are dubious at best; after all, China's space infrastructure is decades behind. Or is it? We tend to think of joint American/European efforts such as the International Space Station (ISS) as the pinnacle of manned space technology, forgetting that NASA once aimed much higher.

Shenzou 5, bearing China's first astronaut, ascends to orbit.

If the Chinese are able to capitalize on low-gravity construction methods, it's not unreasonable to expect China to be the first nation to reach Mars. Meanwhile, NASA -- crippled by the behemoth of the ISS and a redundant, aging Shuttle fleet -- may be unable to rally the exploratory savvy to keep up. Will it take the success of a perceived technological adversary to push NASA out of its decades-long lethargy?

A permanent Moon base. China wants to establish a presence on the Moon by 2008.

Ultimately, no one wants a repeat of the paranoid spectacle that climaxed with American astronauts planting their flag on the lunar surface. Rather than scoffing at China's first attempts to become a space power or cringing at its implicit rivalry, the United States should embrace China's heroic first leap into the abyss -- and reinvent its own space program accordingly.


10-20-03

A "Puma" on Mars?

On page 24 of the Cydonian Imperative, I published a brief paper called "The Out-of-Frame Hypothesis as Applied to MGS Image #M0202619" by J.P. Levasseur, a member of the Society for Planetary SETI Research (SPSR). Levasseur, who maintains that some of the apparent profile images seen on the Martian surface deserve serious scientific consideration, arrived at his "out-of-frame" technique by noting the partial likeness of a puma (or similar feline). Since the Mars Global Surveyor image showing the candidate "puma" happened to terminate where the "tail" should be -- if the formation was deliberately constructed to resemble a large cat -- Levasseur surmised that future images showing the region of the hypothetical "tail" would help prove or disprove his hunch that the "puma" was an intentional work of landscape art.

Levasseur's original prediction.

Fortunately, new images showing the area in question have arrived. And while disappointingly low-resolution, they appear to show a feature consistent with the "tail" predicted in Levasseur's original article. Levasseur's a priori out-of-frame method thus adds credibility to the idea that the "puma" may be more than random geomorphology. The discovery of the "tail"-like feature -- while certainly debatable -- challenges our criteria for potentially artificial Martian surface formations.

The "puma's tail" verified?

Whereas most planetary SETI efforts involve analysis of upward-facing formations such as the Face and D&M Pyramid, asymmetric profiles tend to be brushed aside as fanciful "ink blots." (Mike Malin's eager, and justified, dismissal of "Kermit the Frog" is a case in point.) While I personally sympathize with anomaly researchers who must incessantly contend with fragile claims of Nazca-like Martian "birds" and "seahorses," I am nevertheless intrigued by the argument behind Levasseur's technique, which is couched in scientific reasoning. This doesn't mean I endorse the "puma" as proof that a Martian civilization once used the planet's surface as a geological canvas. "Proof" of such isn't likely to manifest so conveniently. And it should be noted that some anomalists inclined toward the possibility of megalithic structures on Mars voiced dissatisfaction with Levasseur's original, tailless "puma" -- specifically, pointing out anatomical flaws such as an apparent "club foot."

I regard the out-of-frame method as an intellectual exercise that planetary SETI must deal with in its pursuit of hard evidence of intelligent extraterrestrial design. The out-of-frame technique's ability to isolate moments of genuine anomaly is largely untested because partially perceived likenesses simply aren't liable to come under scrutiny; familiar-looking shapes tend to catch the eye because they're generally intact, leaving out-of-frame prediction useless. To my knowledge, the "puma" is a lone exception. Regardless, Levasseur's unique approach is liable to ignite the philosophical foundations of the planetary SETI inquiry.

Addendum: The Puma Buttes by J.P. Levasseur.


10-29-03

Redundant Anomaly: Another Mystery in Cydonia

The Cydonia region of Mars is rich in small-scale surface detail that appears eerily like satellite archaeological photos of Earth. A good example is a curious feature I call the "Diamond," first brought to my attention by Bob Harrison (Cydonia Quest). The Diamond is a shallow parallelogram in the immediate vicinity of the "City" complex. It appears to be a buried enclosure or platform of some sort.

The Diamond. Small pyramidal feature in lower left-hand corner is Mound E.

This pyramidal outcropping comprises what can be seen of Mound E in the original Viking study. Compare to context image above.

What I find decidedly anomalous about this formation is that the parallelogram's lower left-hand angle corresponds closely with Mound E, one of the bright "dots" noticed on Viking imagery and subsequently studied by Richard Hoagland, Dr. Horace Crater and Prof. Stanley McDaniel. In the animation below, Dr. Mark Carlotto presents Mound E as imaged by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) and rotated based on elevation data. What can be seen of the mound under the dust appears pyramidal -- possibly five-sided, echoing the City Pyramid and D&M Pyramid. The pyramidal outcropping protrudes from the corner of a rather neatly defined square. A similar formation, possibly tetrahedral, appears on the adjacent corner.

Mound E's conspicuous placement near the edge of the Diamond reinforces its out-of-placeness. It certainly seems to fall into the criteria for candidate archaeological sites. As the initial Mound study was performed before high-resolution MGS data, Mound E -- and by extension, the Diamond -- possess a doubly curious degree of a priori strangeness.

Pentad formed by Mound E and nearby bright "mound" features. How well does this model hold up against the Diamond? For trig notation, click here. Image courtesy Horace Crater.

The odds of a few bright pixels turning out to be anything but a shapeless, isolated landmass upon close examination are incredibly low. Nonetheless, the Thanks to Stan McDaniel.

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