Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Face Of Mars


On July 25, 1976Viking Orbiter 1 captured an image that would spark the imagination of millions around the world and reignite the debate of life on Mars and in other worlds outside of earth. The image, dubbed F035A72, showed the Cydonia region of Mars, but it would be infamously known as the image of the face on Mars.

In the upper center portion of the whole image, viewers can see the eerie outline of what appears to be a humanoid face: the shallow cups of the eyes, a pointed peak of a nose that meets the outlines of the lips, and the general symmetry that could only be described as a human face, or at least an alien monument to that effect.

While the picture attracted the attention of the general public, most NASA scientists knew that it was nothing more than a mesa on Mars. Over a dozen years later, better camera equipment showed that this was the case. Images from the Mars Global Surveyor in 2001, the European Space Agency's Mars Express in 2006 and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter using its HiRISE camera in 2007 (the image below) all show that the original face was nothing more than a combination of sunlight hitting the aspect at a particular angle, the camera technology at that time, and most people's tendency to find faces in everyday objects ( a phenomenon known as Pareidolia).


While the myth of the face on Mars has been debunked, that doesn't conclusively mean that extraterrestrial life doesn't exist. With the Mars Science Laboratory set to launch by the end of the year, once can still dream of finding life in space. Who knows, the definitive proof for life on Mars might be found by then.

The original image containing the face on mars (image number TF035A72) can be found on NASA's JPL website. Head on over here to read a detailed account of the discovery and myth, and here and here for even more detailed analysis on the Martian geological feature.

17 comments:

neatfit said...

That picture is quite a weird coicidence, I love that you put the history behind it, now I actually know more about it. Good post :).

The Angry Lurker said...

We are alone and for a good reason but a nice idea that is eventually debunked.

Fang said...

This caused quite an uproar back then..

D4 said...

I've always seen two faces in that picture. The one at the bottom left always had more of an impact me than the one on the top.

MRanthrope said...

I find it hard to believe that aliens would give two shits about us, let alone leave monuments to humanity on Mars. That would be like us leaving a shrine to ants.

Give Everything said...

mmm...great article, makes you think!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I remember being fascinated about that face as a kid. Still, how do we know the aliens didn't just erase the evidence in the 30 years between photos.

Kid Shuffle said...

i used to have these as my desktop background. so nice

Damon said...

woow o.O
a face ?
that is amazing :P

Chick Flick Journal said...

WOW!

A Heel in Mint said...

Wow..that does look like human face! Love the pictures :)

sildude said...

The X-files had an episode around this photo I think.

Maybe you. said...

OH MY FUCKING GOD I LOVE PHOTOGRAPHY! will follow your blog dude, be sure of it.. just post more oftenly plz.. LOVE PHOTOGRAPHY.. omg..

Phil S. said...

Pareadolia you say? I love this photo. Regardless of what anyone believes (for me, it's like you say, pareidolia) it is a tremendous source of speculation and storytelling. That makes it a great photo in my book.

Reilly said...

sad face that it's fake :( Trolled by Mars lol

Dale said...

Wow, i never really paid attention to space when I was in school but if they would have showed us interesting pics like this, I would have. haha

Thanks for sharing
_Dale

Electric Addict said...

however, very eerie indeed. a photograph to be remembered for a long time

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