The Martian Enigmas

On the surface of Mars lies a formation that looks remarkably like a humanoid face. Forever staring up into the vastness of space it has attracted our attention. For some, that is why it is there, beckoning us to come and explore. Others believe that it is simply an odd looking geological landform - a formation carved over the ages by the random forces of nature - that it is our imagination and our desire to find other life in the universe that makes us see it as an intelligently crafted object.

And perhaps this is all that could be said of the Face on Mars. Provided it was alone. But it is not alone. Nearby are other strange looking objects. Some quite geometrical in shape. A number of them look like pyramids, one apparently five-sided. Moreover the objects seem to be arranged on the Martian surface in an organized pattern. Again, maybe it is our imagination tricking us into seeing something that is not there. But there is more...

Viking Orbiter

General Description of the Face and Nearby Objects on Mars

Brief overview describes the Face and other anomalous objects on Mars. Carefully restored and enhanced images of selected features are presented. Includes bibliography of related journal articles and books.

Other Viking Articles:

Enhancement of Fine Structure in the Face on Mars

Reviews image restoration and enhancement process used to bring out subtle details in the Face including several thin lines that intersect above the eyes, four broad stripes across the face, and fine structure in the mouth area that appear to some as teeth.

Stereo Images of D&M Pyramid

Contains two stereo image pairs of the D&M pyramid: one from 70A11 and 70A13, and the other from 35A72 and 561A25.

Mars Global Surveyor

Articles leading up to April 1998 image of the Face:

What MGS Might Find on Mars - Abridged and illustrated version of an article which appeared in Quest for Knowledge predicting what MGS might find in the Cydonia region of Mars.

Pathfinder's Other Discoveries - Discussion of image compression artifacts in Mars Pathfinder images.

SPSR Scientists Meet With NASA Officials in November, 1997 - Report by Stanley McDaniel on the November 1997 meeting with NASA concerning their plans to reimage the Face.

Global Surveyor and the Face on Mars - Reviews capabilities of Mars Orbiter Camera and assesses its capability to image the Face and other objects in Cydonia.

What MGS Might See on April 5 - Prediction of how the Face might appear to MGS on April 5, 1998 based on information provided by JPL in March 1998 concerning their plans to reimage Cydonia the following month.

April 1998 MGS Image of the Face on Mars - Preliminary analysis of April 1998 MGS image of the Face. Accuracy of JPL's enhancements are questioned.

Full resolution restored and enhanced imagery (1meg)

1999 JSE Paper on the April 1998 Image of the Face - Short paper summarizing key findings including high degree of symmetry and additional facial features.

Other MGS Articles:

April 1998 Image of the City Pyramid - Two weeks later MGS re-imaged portions of the City including the 'Starfish Pyramid'.

Entire northeast quadrant of the D&M and western portion of the Fort were imaged in April 1998 - Provides updated information on April 1998 MGS images over Cydonia.

MGS starts new mapping sequence with off-nadir imaging - Why additional images of Face are needed to resolve controversy.

New images of the Fort and Thlous (April 2000) - Two years later, two other anomalies in Cydonia are re-imaged by MGS.

Other anomalies found in Cydonia - Other unusual features found in April 2000 images.

April 2001 Image of the Face - Article on the new April 2001 image published by New Frontiers in Science. Analysis of this image shows clear evidence of symmetry and a consistent underlying geometry.

The Martian Enigmas

Examines the "Face on Mars" along with pyramids and other unusual objects on the Martian surface photographed by a Viking orbiter spacecraft in 1976.

The Cydonia Controversy

History, science, and implications of the discovery of archaeological ruins on Mars, and its place in the debate over extra-terrestrial life.

Journal Papers

Digital Imagery Analysis of Unusual Martian Surface Features

First peer-reviewed paper on the Face on Mars published by the journal Applied Optics in 1988. Describes digital image restoration and enhancement process. Key contribution is 3-D analysis of the Face using single image shape from shading technique which shows the Face is not a trick of light and shadow as claimed by NASA.

A Method for Searching for Artificial Objects on Planetary Surfaces

Paper published by the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society in 1990 which describes a technique for identifying areas in an image that do not fit a fractal model. The technique, which was previously developed to detect man-made objects in satellite imagery, finds the Face and several other nearby objects to be the least natural over the region considered.

Digital Image Analysis of Possible Extraterrestrial Artifacts on Mars: A Personal Glimpse

Invited paper published by the journal Digital Signal Processing in 1993. In the Introduction, editors John Hershey and Rao Yarlagadda write: "The Personal Glimpse is very unusual. It is written by invitation to a scientist who was willing to tackle a very difficult assignment, and that was to try to address some of the implied questions resulting from his research.... Rao and I leave you with a thought that has been attributed to the great physicist Eddington: "Either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Either possibility is awesome."

Evidence that Certain Objects on Mars are Artificial in Origin

Paper published in 1997 reviews evidence in support of the hypothesis that the collection of objects in Cydonia are artifical. The evidence is based on a detailed examination of the objects themselves, on spatial and angular relationships between objects, and on a comparative analyses of the shape of the Face and several objects in the City.

Response to Geomorphology of Selected Massifs On the Plains of Cydonia, Mars by David Pieri

Paper published by JSE in 1999 rebuts article on Face by JPL scientist David Pieri.

Enigmatic Landforms in Cydonia: Geospatial Anisotropies, Bilateral Symmetries, and Their Correlations

Examines geospatial terrain statistics and object symmetries of enigmatic landforms in Cydonia.


Quicktime animations of the Face, D&M, Fort, and Cydonia Flyover

Run Shape-from-Shading Process on Your Own Image - Get the SFSX shape-from-shading app for Mac OSX.

Description of Shape-from-Shading Algorithm - Theory behind shape-from-shading (photoclinometry) with examples.

Independent Replication of Shape-from-Shading Results for the Face. - Validates shape-from-shading approach and confirms 3-D structure of the Face.


New Frontiers in Science

The Society for Planetary SETI Research

Search for Extraterrestrial Artifacts

(Page updated February 2017)

© 2017 Mark J. Carlotto