Advertisements

From the LITD Archives: Face to Face

Mars’ famous “face”, imaged in 2007.

Remember the photo of the mysterious “face on Mars” taken by the Viking spacecraft in 1976? Well here’s the same landform, imaged by the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Just goes to show that things aren’t always what they seem.

Mars face in 1976. Image: NASA

The surprisingly human-looking “face” was really just a trick of the light combined with the relatively low-resolution of Viking’s camera. Rather than a carved monument erected by an ancient humanoid civilization, the feature has long since been proven to be a lava dome, creating a mesa rising above the surrounding landscape. With the right lighting and perspective, shadows create shapes interpreted – pretty easily, I must say – as eyes, nose and an open mouth…and perhaps even a sort of headdress or ring of hair. But hey, as people, I guess we’re somewhat biased that way (and  as it turns out, so are computers.)

In the high-resolution image of the same feature, taken from 300km above the surface, it all dissolves into a typical Mars landform. Although interesting in its own right, it’s no timeless sentinel staring out into space. But that’s the beauty of science, really….revealing the reality behind imagination. Not to destroy it but hopefully to inspire even more fascination because of it. Reality, after all, still has plenty of surprises in store for us.

Read more on Universe Today, and see the original “face” images here.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Originally posted on July 29, 2010. Edited on July 25, 2013.

Advertisements

About Jason Major

Jason is a Rhode Island-based graphic designer, photographer, nature lover, space exploration fanatic, and coffee addict. In no particular order.

Posted on July 10, 2011, in Mars and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Reality is more marvelous and tremendous that fiction.
    And that still more in space !!
    Best Wishes to You and your Blog.
    Jeff Barani from Vence (France)

    Like

  2. Jeff Tressler

    It would be nice to see a super imposed image or drawing of the correct scale of the “face”. Every time I see one of these “real” images, it looks in no way like the original face it could just be any old random image. To see what real features correspond to the eyes, mouth, and even the specific mound that stands out in the old phote would be nice.

    Like

  3. DOROTHEY C. ARMS

    STILL NOT CONVINCED THOUSANDS OF YEARS OF EROTION AND VOLCANIC ACTIVITY COULD HAVE COVERED WHAT WAS SOMETHING LIKE OUR MT RUSHMORE ILL BELIEVE OTHER WISE WHEN I LAND ON MARS OR AT LEAST SOME HUMAN TO SAY OTHERWISE IM CONTENT TO KEEP MY BELIEFS THAT WE ARE NOT ALONE IN THE UNIVERSE BUT ONE OF MANY CIVILIZATIONS ACROSS MANY GALAXIES

    Like

    • Mars has not been volcanically active for many millions of years. Plus if you read more on the Universe Today link in the article, it’s clear that the features of the landform are purely geologic. We certainly may not be alone in the Universe but the feature seen here is not a sculpted face.

      Like

  1. Pingback: Evidence of Ancient Aliens? Nah, It’s Just Pareidolia (Again) | Lights in the Dark

  2. Pingback: Evidence of Ancient Aliens? Nah, It’s Just Pareidolia (Again) | Lights in the Dark

Have an opinion about this? Leave a comment:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: