Chapter Six
New Mars Global Surveyor Images of Cydonia

In November 7, 1996, well before Mars Pathfinder had even landed at its hyperdimensional site of 19.5 x 33, NASA had already launched its next mission to the Red Planet.

 

Mars Global Surveyor was the successor to the ill-fated Mars Observer, to be fitted with a slightly upgraded version of that probe's "Malin camera," designed by Dr. Michael Malin.


Malin Space Science Systems had won a new contract for the camera on MGS in a less-than-open competition. Attempts by the military team that ran the Clementine mission to the Moon to bid on the contract were rejected in a manner that one witness described as "frothing," in spite of the fact that the Clementine team's camera was superior in all respects to Malin's. So NASA asked Dr. John Brandenberg, an old colleague of Hoagland's from the early independent Mars investigations, to present the camera a second time to JPL's open bidding process.

 

The decision was then abruptly assigned to a "selection committee" run by JPL, who selected Malin and his camera, basically the same 1993 technology that was on Mars Observer, over the more flexible Clementine instrument, which, among other things, could be gimbaled to point at an off-nadir target, while the entire spacecraft had to be maneuvered to take such an image in the case of the Malin camera. JPL, it seemed, really wanted Malin to be the camera man for the next Mars mission.


This time however, we had reason to believe that we might finally get the images we had waited so long for. The launch of Mars Global Surveyor had followed the ritual pattern we had come to expect. As MGS pulled away from the cape, Sirius was hovering at 33 below the horizon. We hoped that this meant that MGS would be successful where Mars Observer had failed.


In fact, there was even a "double alignment" of sorts at the launch, with Orion's belt star Alnitak also at 33 below the Cydonia horizon. So we had a "hit" on the occasion of the launch at both the launch site and the anticipated target zone.


With Malin's well-demonstrated hostility toward the Cydonia issue clouding everything around the mission, Stan McDaniel's SPSR organization arranged a clandestine meeting with NASA's Dr. Carl Pilcher, the Acting Director of Solar System Studies, in November of 1997. At the meeting, which was attended by McDaniel, Carlotto and Brandenberg among others, Pilcher feigned interest and promised that Cydonia would be imaged at every opportunity during the "science mapping phase" of the mission. He later dismissed the meeting, saying he "just took the meeting to get SPSR to stop bothering us." However, in a report on the meeting made by Carlotto at a Brazilian UFO expo, there was this one intriguing nugget:


"Moreover, they said that they are in fact very interested in these objects, for two reasons. There are two groups in NASA. One group believes that [UFO researchers] are all wrong, and they want to prove it. So they want to take these pictures to prove that you're wrong, so you'll go away. The other group - and our sense is that it's a small but growing group within NASA - believes that we have some interesting data, and they want to take a closer look at it."105


Unfortunately, despite Pilcher's verbal promise that re-photographing Cydonia was now "official NASA policy," SPSR didn't get anything in writing.

 

As the Spring 1998 orbital insertion of MGS approached, Hoagland used the power of his appearances on Coast to Coast AM to ratchet up the pressure on NASA to formally commit to re-photographing Cydonia. He argued that Malin should not have the god-like power to decide what would be photographed, that the data stream from the Orbiter should be live, as opposed to the (up to) six months embargo period Malin was allowed under his private contract, and that Malin should be put on record as to whether he had any knowledge about Mars Observer's disappearance or possible secret resurrection.


As the public pressure mounted, Malin took to the airwaves himself in an effort to diffuse the situation and retain exclusive control over "his" instrument - which the American public had paid for.


Malin chose to give an interview to Linda Moulton Howe, a regular contributor to Coast to Coast AM. In the interview, he expressed indignance that anyone could view him as being responsible for what happened to the Mars Observer. He also went to great lengths to claim that getting an image of an object as "small" as the Face (which is about 2.5 x 2 km) was an iffy proposition at best, comparing it to winning the lottery. When Howe asked him what he would say to those that had waited for almost twenty years for new images of the region, Malin said "... all I can say is, jeez, I'm sorry, that's the reality of the thing."106


We, of course, knew this to be baloney. The targeting capability of the MGS camera was exceptional, with very little error built into the system. Malin's team had devised an excellent targeting software suite that enabled them to preselect a Face-sized target with ease.


There are two factors affecting the targeting of a specific object with the MGS camera: downtrack and crosstrack. "Downtrack" is the path back along the spacecraft orbit. "Crosstrack" is the lateral scanning normal to the spacecraft's vertical axis. Of the two, crosstrack is by far the most difficult to account for when targeting a specific object because of uncertainties in the mapping grid developed by the Rand Corporation.


However, even in the worst case scenario, the maximum crosstrack error is about 0.15 miles, or one eighth of the width of the Face itself. The downtrack error margin is significantly less than even that small distance. In the words of Stanley McDaniel's "McDaniel Report," hitting a specific target the size of the Face is "About as difficult... as hitting a door with a baseball from a distance of about one foot."


Malin's attempts to deceive the listeners with his "lottery" comments were obviously very worrisome to Hoagland and the other Cydonia researchers. In a page on his website, Malin had made his feelings plain as recently as 1995, when he stated that "no one in the planetary science community (at least to my knowledge) would waste their time doing 'a scientific study' of the nature advocated by those who believe that the 'Face on Mars' [is] artificial."


This was of course a gross misstatement of the argument. No one, not even Hoagland, had expressed a specific belief that the Face or any of the other objects at Cydonia were artificial. Although we all strongly suspected they might be, we'd merely argued that they deserved further study and should be imaged at every opportunity. But Dr. Malin had a long history of distortion and obfuscation when it came to the Face and Cydonia.


According to Vincent Dipietro, during the "Case for Mars" conference in Boulder, Colorado in 1981, Dipietro and his research partner Gregory Molenaar were audibly assaulted by Malin. Malin had set up a display table near to the one hosted by Dipietro and Molenaar, who were trying to generate interest in the Face and their image enhancement process. Every time anyone approached the table and started to look at the images of the Face, Malin picked up a megaphone and began yelling into it, creating so much noise that he was able to drive away many a curious conference-goer.


It seemed obvious that he and JPL remained extremely hostile to the idea of even trying to target the region. Further, Hoagland noted that Pilcher's promise was to target Cydonia only during the "science mapping" phase of the mission. This was key, because MGS was about to enter a prescience mapping orbit that would have it pass over Cydonia every nine days.


In March 1998, after receiving literally tens of thousands of faxes from Art Bell's Coast-to-Coast AM audience demanding that NASA take new photos at the first opportunity, NASA finally caved. In a prominent agreement, later posted on the official JPL website, the Mars Surveyor Project agreed to "announce these [Cydonia] imaging opportunities in advance..." and then "(shortly after receipt] to post the resultant images on the internet." According to the specific terms of this agreement, "we [the Mars Surveyor Project] expect that there will be widespread scientific and public interest in the new results from Mars. As such, there is a strong commitment by NASA and the MGS scientists to release data to the public on a timely basis.

 

The project will be releasing data shortly after receipt on the internet in a manner similar to that seen on the Clementine, Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous and Mars Pathfinder missions.


"The Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft is only able to photograph features on the surface of Mars that are directly below it as it makes each orbital pass. The spacecraft will fly directly over the Cydonia region, where enigmatic features were observed in the Viking mission, a few times during its mapping mission.


"The Mars Global Surveyor project will announce these imaging opportunities in advance and will post the resultant images on the internet.

The fax and e-mail campaign generated by Hoagland and Bell paid off a few weeks later when NASA announced its first Cydonia imaging opportunity for April 5, 1998, during the science phasing orbit period. At last it seemed we were going to get the pictures that might settle the argument once and for all.

 

 


Playing in the Catbox

In the anxious days leading up to the April 1998 imaging opportunity, NASA released even more details on the targets planned for the science phasing orbit images.

 

They released a list including Cydonia, the Viking 1 and 2 landing sites, and the Pathfinder landing site. If it was designed to be a run through of all of the possible "temple sites" on Mars, it could not have been more obvious.

 

The announcement emphasized that these sites were chosen because they could provide scientists with crucial "ground truth" measurements to compare with what they had seen from the landing sites themselves, even though they acknowledged that the Landers would not be visible.

 

Exactly how these images could be of any use in making such comparisons when the Landers weren't even visible escaped us, but it was certainly true that, visible Landers or not, this ritual of re-photographing the most "sacred sites" on Mars established by man could serve a powerful ceremonial function.

 

In keeping with Malin's previous statements, the announcement maintained the idea that actually imaging a specific target would be problematic:

"The probability that the targets of interest will be within the camera's field of view varies between thirty and fifty percent."

A further update announced that the Cydonia image would be taken on orbit 220, at 08:33 UTC (Universal Time). This gave us an excellent chance to look for alignments for that image. The first place we looked would logically be Cydonia, where the image was being taken. There were no alignments there. However, when we checked the sky over JPL, from which the command to take the image was sent, we did find a significant alignment - Sirius/Isis hovered below the JPL horizon at precisely the tetrahedral 19.5 altitude when the image was taken. So the ritual pattern continued.


Heading into the April 4 weekend, NASA announced that the Cydonia image targeting the Face on Mars would be released on Monday morning, April 6 at 10:30 a.m. PDT. Getting such a precise date and time aroused our curiosity, and as we waited over the weekend for the image to be taken, we occupied ourselves by checking the alignments for the image release.


Although there was no alignment over JPL at that time, there was a significant alignment of Orion's belt star Mintaka at 33 below the horizon at Cydonia. In addition, Mintaka was almost dead on the Meridian, making this an extraordinary "double hit" in the ritual system. We concluded after finding this alignment that we would indeed get something very significant that Monday morning.


On the morning of the sixth, we all huddled around our computers, anxiously awaiting the image release. Precisely at 10:30 a.m., in accordance with the alignments that had been established, the link appeared on our screens. When we clicked on it, we saw what we had been waiting for over two decades to see - sort of.


The image that was released was a black, grainy, essentially blank image. Was this a joke? [Fig. 6-1]


Unfortunately, it was not a joke (that was to come a few hours later). It was a raw image, supposedly of the data that had been uploaded to the spacecraft. However, even though the image was taken in the full light of mid-day, it was virtually black. This was not what anyone, even the media, had expected.

 

 Hoagland's phone began to ring off the hook, asking him if he still "believed" in the Face on Mars and if he had any comment. He simply responded that he was disappointed with the quality of the image, since we had all been led to believe that it would be much better than Viking's raw data, when in fact it was worse. He urged caution until we saw if NASA would release a processed version later in the day.


That "processed version" came a few hours later, from JPL's Mission Image Processing Laboratory (MIPL). At last we could see enough detail to tell where in the image swath the Face actually fell.


Contrary to his previous claims about "hitting the lottery," Malin was able to nail the Face dead center in the image on his first official attempt. Rotating the spacecraft "off-nadir" as it approached Cydonia, Malin and the JPL navigators positioned the probe and its camera to capture the Face nearly perfectly. It was dead center on both the crosstrack and downtrack of the image swath. There was only one problem; not only didn't the Face look much like a face, it didn't look like much of anything [Fig. 6-2].


Instead of a high resolution overhead view of the Face, we got a low-contrast, noisy and washed-out image that was apparently taken well after MGS had passed the Face mesa. This resulted in a view that was looking up from below and dramatically to the left side. Details of the right side, previously shadowed in the Viking images, were visually compressed by perspective and hidden behind the "nose." The image swath had extended far beyond the Face to the north, showing a featureless plain, and south all the way to the D&M Pyramid, capturing almost one full corner of that enigmatic object. The image was so lacking in contrast and detail that it gave the impression of a flat, blank desert landscape, with virtually no elevation at all.


This was not what the researchers or the public had expected to see. But it was clearly what JPL and MSSS wanted the media to show them. Within an hour of the release of an image that they surely knew was far below the quality of what could be obtained from the raw data, JPL spin doctors had spread out to the various news media pronouncing the Face to be natural. Obviously working from pre-arranged talking points, these spin doctors-employees of JPL mostly - insisted that even though they were NASA scientists (and by implication smarter than most of us) they were not speaking for NASA or JPL, but only for themselves.


NASA and JPL pronounced that neither would take an official position on the image, thereby draping both organizations in a fallacious robe of objectivity. Surely, they knew what their employees were doing on their lunch hours, since it was all over the television.


The end result of this was to insulate NASA and JPL from direct criticism on the matter. Any of their employees subsequently found to have made false statements or unscientific arguments over this issue could be dismissed as "loose cannons" that acted outside the purview of their responsibilities at the agency. This meant that there could never be a second "McDaniel Report," proving NASA's complicity in a campaign of misinformation and ridicule of a scientifically testable hypothesis. At the same time NASA could then claim that it acted openly and honestly by releasing data quickly and allowing its scientists to comment on the matter.


Hoagland and the other independent researchers were caught off guard by this well-coordinated media assault against them. Still trying to process the raw image themselves and hopefully get a better version of it than had been provided by JPL, they were ill equipped to deal with the media circus around the image release. Facing deadlines, the major media couldn't wait around for Hoagland or anyone else to process a better version. When the six-o'clock news rolled around, they went with the MIPL image.


They were almost uniformly hostile. None other than brilliant planetary scientist Dan Rather pronounced it "a pile of rocks." NBC's Tom Brokaw called the image "proof of what we already knew." Only CNN's John Holliman, who had been friendly to the independent investigation over the years, was somewhat sympathetic, saying that the independent researchers needed more time to properly evaluate the image. He concluded his report by saying "NASA has always said the Face is merely a trick of light and shadow. Some trick." JPL's spin team had done the job.


Then, within three minutes of the last national six-o'clock newscast sign off, a second image suddenly appeared - again without comment - on the various NASA, MSSS and JPL web and mirror sites. The "TJP" (Timothy J. Parker) enhancement was a significant improvement over the earlier MIPL image. It contained far more contrast and detail, and less noise, than the image that had dominated the newscasts [Fig. 6-3).


Parker, a JPL geologist, had produced this second, vastly superior version of the "raw" data using mostly standard Photoshop tools, and posted his steps on the web. His version had detail that was far more visible and confirmed many Facelike features - including clearly unmistakable nostrils, of all things - but it came too late. Only after the major news organizations had broadcast their reports and made their pronouncements did this considerably improved, much more obviously Face-like image miraculously come to light. Even so, it was still improperly ortho-rectified and gave a less-than-ideal perspective on the object.


That night on Bell's show, Hoagland tried to explain all this to an obviously disappointed public. He pointed out that, given the distance the spacecraft's vertical track was from the Face, such a side-view was the best that could be hoped for. However, it wasn't necessary to have waited as long as they had to take the image, resulting in a view looking back at the Face from "below." While this angle did show some new secondary facial characteristics, such as the "nostrils," it could not be used for a realistic symmetry study that a true overhead shot might have provided.


Bell, however, was indignant at the political aspects of the day. He considered it a joke that the horrible "MIPL" version had been the only one available as the TV news had gone to air, and asked Hoagland why it might take another seven hours for Malin's team to release their "TJP" version.

 

Hoagland admitted that the TJP version should have only taken about thirty minutes to produce, and lamented the fact that the MIPL version made it appear that there was no "Face" at all.

"Well, looking at that image, Richard, I'd have to conclude as well that there is no Face on Mars," Bell said, "and my question now is, where the hell did it go?"

Bell summed up the MIPL image by saying that it reminded him of a pattern his kitty might scratch up in her litter box. It was from that moment forward that the MIPL image would forever be known as the "Catbox" version of the Face on Mars.



Honey, I Shrunk the Face

Within a day of the release of the new MGS image of the Face, Hoagland had become suspicious of its quality, and then reasoned that there might be a way to discern if the image had been altered or degraded.


The Mars Orbiter camera, in its "narrow-angle mode," is composed of a single line of detectors - a 2048 Element Line Scan CCD Array. The camera produces images by electronically "cross-track sampling" the array, while the physical motion of the spacecraft around the planet moves the entire line of detectors over the Martian surface at right angles to that scan (normally straight down at the planet's surface).


Inevitably, each individual CCD element in such an array possesses slightly varying sensitivity compared to its neighboring elements, across the width of the detector. Thus, any image produced by the "line-scan CCD array" will inevitably display a series of irregularly-spaced, vertical bright and dark lines - like scratches on an old print of Casablanca, stretching the length of the entire image at right angles to the scan.


Normally, these vertical irregularities are removed from the final image by appropriate computer processing; however, in "raw" or incompletely processed images, these scan lines can serve as unique detector fingerprints of that particular CCD array. No two line-scan cameras will imprint the same spacing, intensity or number of such lines on any of its images. Thus, like matching bullet markings in a murder investigation through a ballistics test, comparing lines on various CCD line-scan camera images cap uniquely determine crucial aspects of those images - including which camera took which image.


The next day, a listener named Fred Hoddick, acting on Hoagland's conversation about these CCD idiosyncrasies, discovered that the MOC indeed imprinted a unique line-scan fingerprint on every Mars Surveyor photograph.


One such image he investigated was a close-up section of the spectacular Vallis Marineris, the "Grand Canyon of Mars." In comparing the line-scan signature visible in narrow-angle image with the pattern of faint lines seen in the raw version of the MGS Cydonia image, Hoddick indeed made a major, startling discovery - the spatial dimensions of the Mars Surveyor image of Cydonia released by JPL were only half of what should have been acquired [Fig. 6-4].


When the bright, clear, full resolution image was reduced in size by 50%, its scan-line signature precisely matched that of the Cydonia raw image. Thus, the raw frame displayed on all the NASA websites only presented half the spatial data apparently originally imaged by the camera. This radically reduced the ability of image processors to detect (if not unambiguously identify) any artificial sub-structures present in the image.


When this blatant spatial image tampering is added to the extremely limited grey scale presented in the same MGS raw image (only forty-two out of a possible 256 shades of grey were present in the raw data) the result is an extremely noisy image enhancement. Because of the morning light aspect of this MGS Cydonia photograph, this reduced number of grey levels further distorted the raw Mars Surveyor Cydonia image, effectively eliminating meaningful comparisons with the previous Viking data. This comparison is further hampered by NASA's choice of the spacecraft imaging angle - oblique, as opposed to Viking's overhead frontal view.


Finally, NASA's choice of imaging enhancement tools for this bland image - high-pass filtering - further reduced the MIPL version of the Face from Mars Surveyor to a black and white "cartoon," what Art Bell termed whimsically "the Catbox image."


Michael Malin quickly responded by saying that the image was reduced in size by 50% over what could have been acquired in order to avoid a downtrack error from occurring and missing the Face. Of course, as we have already discussed, the major navigation problem with MGS was not down track, but cross track, and that error range was so slight as to be insignificant in targeting an object as large as the Face - and to extend the downrange "footprint" of the Surveyor's imaging, from slightly under seven miles to twenty-six miles, in an ostensible effort to guarantee successfully re-imaging the Face (but at the cost of cutting the surface resolution in the camera in half) simply doesn't make sense. And the spectacular success of the JPL navigation team confirms this - the actual location of the Face in the image JPL released was almost dead center of the "downrange" footprint, and just left of the east/west "cross track." (In the words of one of Malin's own associates on that Monday afternoon: "We nailed it!")


Other nagging inconsistencies also remained. If "trading off imaging resolution for a larger photographic footprint was a deliberate pre-Cydonia strategy reached by the entire project, why didn't anyone at NASA (including Michael Malin) say so before the Cydonia attempt? Why did they wait to offer an explanation for this "surprise" only after Hoagland caught them at it?


And, finally, there is the little matter of the "corrected caption" that then appeared on JPL's own website

"CYDONIA PHOTO CAPTION
"as stated on: Mon 04/06/98 10:30 AM PDT Image dimensions: 1024 x 19200 pixels, 4.42 km x 82.94 km
"This was a typographical error for which we appologize [sic]. "Actual image dimensions: 1024 x 9600 pixels, 4.42 km x 41.5 km."

Somehow, it's hard to imagine anyone typing "19200" in place of "9600," 82.94 km for 41.5 km - even in a government contracted typing pool at JPL - but if the original transmitted imaging resolution from Dr. Malin's camera was 2048 pixels across, subsequently downsized on Earth to 1024, then the corresponding down track dimension would have been precisely 19200 pixels - exactly what the original NASA caption read, exactly consistent with Hoagland's discovery that the image was somehow missing 400 percent of its expected resolution.


In other words; they did it.


Responding to the other major criticism that greeted the first raw Cydonia image - that it was simply too dark, resulting in a lack of grayscale contrast range - Malin posted data claiming that the MGS raw image in fact "wasn't all that dark..." He attempted to compare the new MOC data of Cydonia with the twenty-two-year-old Viking image histograms, insisting that in truth "the MOC data actually have more grey levels than the Viking images..." There is only one small problem with Dr. Malin's analysis - he's wrong.


The major difference is that both Viking Cydonia frames were taken in the late afternoon, with long shadows obvious in even the raw data. The MGS image was taken at 10:00 a.m. local Martian time - yet the image histograms showed more levels of gray in the Viking images than the MGS image, and all this with a camera that was on the order of ten times better than Viking's


In the end, we were forced to conclude that the supposedly raw image was a second-generation copy filled with noise and devoid of crucial detail-and an SPSR member was about to show us that the "Catbox" image was an even bigger ruse...



Unmasking the Catbox

Even as the controversy raged over the question of the raw data, other independent researchers remained focused on the MIPL, or Catbox, enhancement. However much detail and contrast had been removed from the raw data, it paled in comparison to the hatchet job done on the Face by the unnamed creator of the Catbox image. One researcher, Lan Fleming of SPSR, was also a NASA contractor by day. He spent weeks trying to recreate the Catbox image with standard software processing tools, to no avail. No matter how hard he tried, he was unable to reproduce the flat, featureless look of the "enhancement."


Then he decided to try a new combination of techniques. By first applying a high-pass filter (which removes high frequency data from an image) and then a low-pass filter (which removes low frequency data), he got very close to the Catbox look. This was also probably how so many of the gray levels were removed from the raw image presented by JPL. He then applied a noise filter, which introduced more noise into the image, to reproduce the "graininess" that was so prominent in the Catbox enhancement.


But he was still lacking a crucial "something." Fleming had noted that a boulder near the Face in the Catbox image was producing a shadow that pointed almost due north, essentially the twelve o'clock position in the image, implying that the light was coming from the six o'clock position. He knew this had to be a false shadow, since the light was coming from below the Face, in the four o'clock position, when the image was taken. He was now stuck trying to find a filter that could reproduce this effect [Fig. 6-5].


Eventually, he tried an emboss filter, a software tool that works by turning lines and edges into a relief. These edges then become illusory ridges and depressions, depending on the direction that is chosen for the false lighting. This has the effect of creating false visual cues for elevation, effectively scrambling an image to make it less visually coherent.


By adding these two additional filters, the Catbox image was revealed as a simple fraud. As Fleming put it:

"After JPL removed most of the tonal variation in the original image that gives the observer the visual cues to the real three-dimensional shape of the object, they added false visual cues to give the object its rough, jumbled appearance, inadvertently falsifying the appearance of the surrounding terrain as well... the Catbox is not a 'poor' enhancement, as it is often called; it is a crude but very effective fraud perpetrated by employees or contractors to the United States government.

 

Even if the Face is proven to be completely natural, this is inexcusable misconduct and a gross abuse of power.

 

If the Face ultimately is proven to be artificial, the Catbox will certainly come to be regarded as the greatest, most malicious and most destructive scientific hoax since the Piltdown Man, and perhaps of all time."

In other words, in order to get from the original raw MOC 22003 image to the eventual Catbox enhancement, which defined the Face to the majority of the public and academia for several years afterward, NASA/JPL/MSSS had gone to the following trouble:

  1. Reduced the resolution of the original 2048 x 19200 image strip to 1024 x 9600, some time after acquisition of the image

  2. Removed almost 85% of the tonal variations by using high-pass and low-pass filters on the "raw" data

  3. After initial processing, applied another high-pass filter

  4. Applied a noise filter to induce more noise into the image than had already been created by the previous processes

  5. Used an emboss filter to delete visual elevation cues and induce false visual cues into the image

And all of this, just to discredit an investigation that "no one" at NASA or JPL supposedly took seriously.


Just what was it on that original raw data that was so threatening that it would require this degree of suppression? We may never know.
 

 


Reaction

Over the following weeks and months, Carlotto and a whole host of amateurs performed enhancements on the new Face image.

 

Although hampered by the degradation of the "raw" data and the poor light and angle of the image, some remarkable work was eventually accomplished. Carlotto produced a better ortho-rectification than the NASA version, and still others produced even better versions. Eventually, the "Mark Kelly enhancement" came to be viewed as the best that could be gleaned from the limited source data.


Although hardly an ideal rendering, the new Face image at least confirmed many of the assumptions and predictions of the early independent investigations. There was indeed a "brow ridge," apparently on both sides and roughly symmetrical. The beveled "platform" upon which the Face rested could also be confirmed as being close to 98% symmetrical, a condition that was almost unheard of in any natural formation. Beyond that, there seemed to be a curled lower lip, and fairly unmistakable "nostrils" in the nose, right where they should be if they were indeed intended to represent nostrils. There was also a hint of a pupil in the eye socket.


To Dr. Tom Van Flandern, these obvious secondary facial characteristics were compelling. He argued that such features were inherently predicted by artificiality hypothesis, and that their existence represented strong enough evidence to conclude that the Face was artificial.

"The artificiality hypothesis predicts that an image intended to portray a humanoid face should have more than the primary facial features (eyes, nose, mouth) seen in the Viking images," he wrote on his website.

 

"At higher resolution, we ought to see secondary facial features such as eyebrows, pupils, nostrils and lips, for which the resolution of the original Viking images was insufficient.

 

The presence of such features in the MGS images would be significant new indicators of artificiality. Their existence by chance is highly improbable. And the prediction of their existence by the artificiality hypothesis is completely a priori.

 

"By contrast, the natural-origin hypothesis predicts that the 'Face' will look more fractal (e.g., more natural) at higher resolution.

 

Any feature that resembled secondary facial features could do so only by chance, and would be expected to have poor correspondence with the expected size, shape, location and orientation of real secondary facial features.

 

Any such chance feature might also be expected to be part of a background containing many similar chance features."107

He finished by saying,

"In my considered opinion, there is no longer room for reasonable doubt of the artificial origin of the face mesa, and I've never concluded 'no room for reasonable doubt' about anything in my thirty-five-year scientific career."

If Van Flandern was more than satisfied, others were not quite as enthusiastic.

 

Carlotto contended that the Face might be artificial, but that if it was, it was in a "highly eroded" state. Graham Hancock, a sometime Face proponent who later authored a book about Mars and the Cydonia controversy (The Mars Mystery), appeared on Coast to Coast AM a few days after the Catbox image was released and stated "I have to say, I believe that the advocates of the Cydonia hypothesis have been dealt a blow." The authors' own conclusion was that with the source data so hopelessly compromised, there was little that could be decided about the new image. Our focus had now turned forward, to the next two Cydonia imaging opportunities that were coming up. NASA, regardless of Van Flandern's protestations, had won this round. They had successfully suppressed interest in Cydonia to the point that no major media would touch the subject for the time being. What we wanted now was to get more out of the next imaging opportunities instead of arguing the last one.


On April 10,1998, a few days after the release of the Catbox image, NASA/JPL released a document on their website announcing the second set of "targeted imaging opportunities." It contained a map of Cydonia with a predicted image swath through the city, with the so-called "city square" as the primary target. The document explained that NASA had decided to ignore the Face on this second pass since it had already been "successful" in capturing the Face on the first Cydonia over-flight. While we all contested the accuracy of that statement, the question of artificiality at Cydonia had always rested on far more than the Face, and it would be good to get images of some of the other pyramidal structures and the odd, Giza Pyramid-sized mounds scattered around the Cydonia plain [Fig. 6-6].


The document also contained one specific statement, which caught our attention:

"Results of the Cydonia imaging will be posted on the internet, in the same manner as in the first observation attempt, at approximately mid-evening Pacific Time on Tuesday, April 14."

The authors immediately recognized this as an opportunity to run a true, indisputable a priori test of our ritual alignment model. Even though we had been successful in pointing out the ritual alignments on the first image release, on this occasion we did not even have a specific time for the release, just a general "mid-evening" timeframe. It was up to us to construct a falsifiable experiment that would verify our hypothesis.


Fortunately, the stars cooperated. We decided to first look at the sky over JPL, since that was where the image release was being controlled and where the servers providing the images were almost certain to be located. It didn't take us long, looking at the stars through Red Shift 2, to pin-point the timing for the image release. At 6:55 p.m. (PDT) on the anointed date, Sirius would be passing through 33, right over JPL. This moment in turn would open up a "window" in which the three belt stars of Orion would all pass through that 33 altitude over the next ten minutes.


So we had an unmistakable opportunity to forever silence the naysayers. But we also realized that a public prediction could alter the conditions of the test, by providing a heads up to JPL that we were tracking them. We decided against a published prediction, since that would make it far too easy to delay the image release by a few minutes and scuttle our test. Instead, we decided to e-mail our prediction to specific researchers and members of the press, including Tom Van Flandern and Art Bell. We predicted an image release at 6:55 p.m. PDT, when Sirius was at 33 above the JPL horizon. Although we had the 10 minute window, we knew that we would have to pick a specific moment for the test to have complete validity. JPL did not disappoint us.


As we were watching the JPL websites, with Bara on the main JPL site and Hoagland watching the primary mirror site, we continued to refresh our browsers to insure we got the image at precisely the moment it was posted. Then at 6:55 p.m., exactly as we had predicted, the new image link appeared on the JPL main web page.


Even though we'd scored a "hit," we continued to monitor the primary JPL mirror site, which had not been updated with the new image. Then, exactly ten minutes after the image had appeared on the JPL main page, a link to the new image appeared at 7:05 p.m. PDT on the JPL mirror site. So they had released the image twice, in effect, once at the opening of the "alignment window" and once at the close. But unquestionably, undeniably, they had followed the ritual pattern.


As a side note, some months later, when reorganizing the Cydonia images under a single web page, NASA/JPL changed the release date and time stamp to show that the second Cydonia image was posted at 6:30 p.m., PDT, taking the release outside the alignment window. The authors can categorically state that this was not the case. The images were released in just the manner described above, at 6:55 and 7:05 p.m.


Even more interesting was what the image contained. Although it had missed the targeted "city square" by some two miles, the image swath managed to capture a sizable chunk of the so-called "Western Pyramid" in the City, along with some of the (remember, tetrahedrally arranged and shaped) mounds and a sizable portion of the landscape beyond the City. There were some surprises.


One of the objects in the city, the Western Pyramid, had been noted and named by architect Robert Fiertek while looking at the Viking data. At its base, just above an enclosed "courtyard," was what appeared to be a small knob that seemed possibly to be faceted, but in the original data it was not clear enough to tell for sure. In scanning the new image (which appeared on the web in both poor [MIPL] and good [TJP] versions) this "knob" stood out dramatically.
It was a pyramid [Fig. 6-7].


Indeed, not only was this knob distinctly pyramidal, it was overtly layered and faceted on all four sides, like a cross between a Mesoamerican pyramid and the structures at Giza, although it was nearly five times the scale of those Pyramids. Although collapsing on the northern side, it maintained a rigid four-sided structure that gave the impression of monumental architecture. From its southwest corner, a wall extended that terminated in a multi-tiered structure Hoagland dubbed the "Castle of Barsoom."


A fuzzy fog oddly obscured the southern and western faces, though "fog" had to be a false description, since the MGS, camera went well into the infrared and should have effectively cut any local haze. Instead, the fog seemed to be areas of the image that had unaccountably lost all contrast and detail. This is generally a characteristic of a blended, modified section of a digital image. An examination of the histogram showed major compression of grayscales in these areas.


A geometric reconstruction of the shape revealed that the best visual fit for the object was a two-tiered pyramid shape, with a 45 slope angle for the first layer and a 60 slope angle for the cap layer. Critics argued that the "Giza Pyramid" was simply a product of "mass wasting," a known geological process that results in debris piling up at the base of a mountain. However, the chances of such a pile of rocks forming themselves into a pyramidal shape with at least two obvious profile edges and two tiers sloping upward at 459 and 60 respectively, as Hoagland put it, were "pretty remote."


Then came the issue of the tetrahedrally arranged mounds of Cydonia. Two of them were captured in the new image, mound "P" and mound "O." Of the two, mound P was the most extraordinary. Not only was it a neat little wedge shape, as the image from Viking had predicted, but right next to it was something those images hadn't revealed - a hexagon [Fig. 6-8].


In fact, there were two distinct hexagons on the image swath, one next to mound P and another at the bottom of the image, in a rugged patterned area of the frame called the suburbs. Both were the size of baseball stadiums and both were unnaturally regular. Mound 0 was unfortunately just at the edge of the image swath, and although it too looked faintly hexagonal, the resolution just wasn't there to reach any definitive conclusions.


Hoagland considered the presence of hexagons on the ground at Cydonia to be especially significant. In the works of Maxwell, upon which Hoagland based his hyperdimensional model of the message of Cydonia, he postulated about the physical properties of multi-spatial dimensions and their interactions in our familiar 3D world of energy and matter.

 

The numbers predicted that the behavior of a spinning sphere, such as a planet, would outwell higher dimensional energies at the key tetrahedral latitude - the now-ubiquitous 19.5 connection.

 

A lesser-known aspect of this model was the prediction that there would be inwelling points in the system as well, and that they would be hexagonal. There had been some confirmation of this idea in images taken of Saturn and the sun. Both sets of images showed hexagonal rings of clouds around the northern poles of both bodies, making the turns at high velocity-No known physical phenomena could account for this behavior.


Further, if Hoagland and Torun had been right all along in their declaration that the arrangements of the monuments at Cydonia were intended to inculcate knowledge of tetrahedral physics to observers, then placing hexagons all around the area would be a dramatic reinforcement of that message.



The Final Image

On April 20, 1998 (yes, Hitler's birthday), NASA again posted a document announcing the third set of targeted observations of the Viking 1 and 2 landing sites, the Pathfinder landing site, and Cydonia.

 

Again, this process seemed to be almost ritualistic, as if they were cycling through the Martian temples one by one. This time, the release even took the care to tell us exactly what date and time each image would be taken, almost daring us to look ahead to what they were planning. Of course, we took them up on it, and although there were no significant alignments at any of the landing sites, once again the Cydonia image followed the ritual pattern with Sirius dead on the horizon from the vantage point of JPL when the image was taken.


The image itself contained even more anomalies, ranging from a flat triangular-shaped ruin that had a complex latticework of supporting struts, to rectilinear room-sized cells on the main pyramid. The triangular ruin was especially controversial, since some members of Stanley McDaniel's SPSR tried to dismiss it as an old-fashioned trick of light and shadow, while others pointed out that it pointed directly due north, quite a coincidence for a trick of shading.


The long-sought City Square was finally captured in the image. Initially, it appeared to be a set of four fairly unremarkable mounds, albeit mounds with highly unusual reflective properties. After some proper enhancement work, however, the four mounds took on a distinctly more geometric quality.

 

In the end, Van Flandern's assessment of the third image was perhaps the most descriptive:

"Triangles and hexagons are rarely found in satellite imagery, except at Cydonia, where they seem to be common."

Admittedly, we ended the first round of new Cydonia imaging with some very substantive evidence to support not only the artificiality hypothesis, but our ritual alignment model as well.

 

Still, NASA had scored a big win in the political battle with the Catbox fraud.

 

By deliberately manipulating the data they had managed to relieve the pressure from the mainstream media. With the Catbox as cover, they had the perfect opportunity to take their Cydonia studies back under the dark blanket of Malin's "exclusive rights" contract.

 

For the next couple of years, that's exactly what they did.
 

 


Chapter Six Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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