Sunday, May 4, 2008

Face on Mars turns out to be somebody else

PASADENA - Astronomers at Jet Propulsion Laboratories have confirmed that the fabled "face on Mars" was indeed a trick of light and not at all the face observers first perceived in low-resolution images from 1976.

"At the time, everybody thought it was Ali MacGraw or some very advanced humanoid extraterrestrial," said Lance Lominlon, lead analyst for JPL's new Folklore division. "Now, with much higher quality images we can definitively say that it's someone more like Bill Pullman or a Roman emperor."

Lominlon believes that the phenomenon of the face was wishful thinking because of the limited lighting conditions and angles from which we could observe the Martian landscape. "It's a classic case of mistaken identity. You can see where the shadows would have fallen to make you think it looked one way, but that doesn't hold up. What's there now and looks like a face has nothing to do with our original perception, and we can therefore put the whole thing to rest."

For decades since the first image appeared, amateur astronomers have speculated about what might actually be on the surface of Mars. Some believed that the "face" was a structure built by a highly developed civilization, designed as a calling card to signal their presence. The new evidence suggests that the features present on the outcropping are purely coincidental.
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