2001 MARS FACE ENDS SPECULATION, INVITES INQUIRY
by The Electric Warrior
NASA has released a new high resolution photograph of the
enigmatic Face on Mars. The new image was captured early last
month, in response to a legal demand by a space exploration
activist group called FACETS (Formal Action Committee for
According to a letter from Dr. Edward J. Weiler, the space
agency's Associate Administrator for Space Science, NASA
responded to the FACETS request by ensuring that the highest
possible resolution images of the Cydonia "face" feature were
"The newly released Cydonia observations reveal an intriguing
mesa-like feature not unlike those found in the Southwestern
USA, with geologic features than can be attributed to processes
in multiple places on Mars," wrote Weiler.
In a March 16 letter to NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin,
FACETS attorney Peter Gersten wrote, "About a dozen features in
an area known as Cydonia, after an independent analysis, were
considered artificial by some respected scientists." Gersten was
retained by the group last summer, when FACETS undertook an
online petition campaign to re-image Cydonia.
The official response letter to FACETS said that NASA welcomes a
variety of opinions about the origin of the enigmatic features
on Mars, but also flatly stated, "At present the Scientific
advisory committees that formally advise NASA have not
interpreted the Cydonia feature as evidence of extraterrestrial
The Associated Press agreed with Weiler, in a caption
distributed with NASA's new Mars Face image, "This new picture,
taken by a camera aboard the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft on
April 8, 2001, shows the area in far sharper detail, but reduces
any resemblance to a humanlike extraterrestrial."
Earlier this year NASA approved an extended mission for MGS,
which began on February 1 and is scheduled to run through April
2002. According to Malin Space Science Systems, which designed
and operates the Mars Orbital Camera (MOC) for NASA, the image
was captured on the first opportunity to turn the spacecraft and
point the MOC at the popular Face on Mars feature.
Until now, the eastern side of the Martian landform had never
been adequately imaged by either MGS or Viking missions, having
been either obscured from view or unresolved in deep shadow. A
clear shot of the eastern half was considered crucial in order
to determine whether the Face is symmetrical.
Championing the artificiality hypothesis, Richard Hoagland's
Enterprise Mission Web site recently stated, "Without a clear
shot of the Eastern half, or even a lower resolution image of
the entire Face from a full overhead view, this issue will never
be settled in the minds of most observers."
According to FACETS founder and director, David Jinks,
speculations about what this side of the Face might contain are
now resolved. "The image clearly shows a slumping, largely
amorphous eastern half, which is devoid of most detail we
suspected we might see there."
Jinks says FACETS' main purpose is to have the subject of
extraterrestrial life, whether in the form of microbes or super-
intelligent beings, taken seriously in the court of science. He
feels that FACETS succeeded in forcing the space agency to set
aside its biases, and gather observational evidence. "My goal in
forming FACETS was to get more data. We have gotten it."
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