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No. 132: NOV-DEC 2000

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It Depends on How you Look at It!

The "Face on Mars," that is; that eroded hill in the Cydonia region that vaguely resembles a human face. When a recent photo of the "Face" taken by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) was published far and wide in the science press, we thought the matter had finally been settled. The photo showed a strange hill obviously sculpted by natural forces. No question about it; there was not a soupcon of artificiality.

But it now seems that if you look at the "Face" at other lighting angles and process the same data in different ways, the "Face" reappears looking more artificial than ever.

T. Van Flandern elaborates:

The MGS spacecraft took a high resolution photo of the "Face on Mars" in April 1998. That image suffered from four handicaps: a low viewing angle; a low sun angle from the direction of under the "chin"; an almost complete lack of contrast; and enough cloudiness to scatter most of the light and eliminate shadows. To add to these difficult circumstances, JPL-MIPL [Jet Propulsion Laboratory-Mission Image Processing Laboratory] personnel, apparently judging that the controversy over artificiality would not be ended when the actual photo was released, processed the image through two filters having the effect of flattening and suppressing image details. This step is documented at a JPL web site. Here we do image processing correctly and present the results of computer corrections to compensate for the poor lighting and low viewing angle. The actual image shows clearly the impropriety of the JPL-MIPL actions because the visual impression of artificiality persists. However, appearances after a discovery are not a valid basis for drawing conclusions, but only for forming hypotheses for further testing. This is called the a priori principle of scientific method. The 1976 Viking imagery allowed the formation of competing hypotheses, natural vs. artificial origin, and tests to distinguish them. When applied to the high-resolution MGS image of the Face, all artificiality predictions were fulfilled despite a lack of background noise. The combined a priori odds against the natural origin of the Face on Mars are 1021 to 1.

(Van Flandern, Tom; "Proof That the Cydonia Face of Mars Is Artificial," Meta Research Bulletin, 9:22, June 15, 2000. Journal address: P.O. Box 15186, Chevy Chase, MD 20825-5186.)

Comment. Will conspiracy buffs suspect that something is awry in all this? You bet they will!

(Left) The Face as actually photographed by MGS in 1998. (Center) Lighting switched from southeast to northwest. (Right) Viewing angle changed from 45° to overhead. (Processing by M. Kelly, www.electrobus.com)

From Science Frontiers #132, NOV-DEC 2000. 2000 William R. Corliss

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