Because no human being (at least that we know of) has ever walked on Mars, there’s a lot of mystery surrounding the planet. Because of orbiters that have gone around the planet, however, we have begun to make out what the surface looks like and we’ve discovered some interesting bits and pieces. One time there appeared to be a lifeform but turned out to be a piece of netting from a previous ship’s crash site, formations that look like spikes, and even what appeared to be a doorway on the side of a mountain.
One thing on Mars that has been the topic of conversation for many years, though, is the perceived “face” on the Red Planet. The Face on Mars is perhaps the oldest oddity of the planet, as the Viking 1 and 2 orbiters were the first to spot it all the way back in the mid-1970s. The face was a result of photographs being taken of the Cydonia region.
From those original images, there was a large formation that seemed to clearly resemble a human face. No matter what angle the photo was taken from during this time, all of them made it so that the face was seen clearly by the human eye. It was dismissed at first by NASA, but once it was seen again from different lighting and more than 30 orbits later, people got to talking.
Naturally, as humans who have a keen interest in life away from the Earth, there were plenty of people who theorized that there was life on Mars and that the Face on Mars was actually a monument of some type. Even with the photos all showing a clear “face,” NASA was still convinced that it was nothing more than lighting and a coincidental formation, but that wasn’t enough to quench the alien thirst of the public.
John Grant of the Center for Earth and planetary studies said that there was a misconception about what NASA was looking for on Mars. while many thought that NASA was looking for intelligent life they were actually searching for any simple forms of life. He went on to say that there were also particular formations on Earth that resembled humans but didn’t have nearly as much speculation as the one on Mars
After the original photos, it had been more than 20 years by the time the Face on Mars was photographed again. This had some people feeling that NASA found more than they were leading on and trying to cover up any alien life. Gerhard Neukum, a scientist who worked on a Mars photography project, said that he received hundreds of emails asking to photograph Cydonia again because they didn’t believe NASA.
In 1998, the Mars Global Surveyor made its way to the Red Planet with the plan to record more imagery from the Cydonia region. Unfortunately for theorists, what they found on the next trip was not what they were hoping for. Instead, higher-resolution images showed that there was no face but the blurriness from the original pictures made it appear that there was.
Even then, there were many people who said that the higher-resolution images didn’t tell the whole story. they claimed that the pictures were taken from the wrong angle and that clouds obscured the vision of the Face on Mars. more images have been taken since then all of which have shown in higher resolution than the face we saw in 1976 is not what we would see with the human eye if we were to get that close to the Cydonia region
The face on Mars has been photographed from different angles in the years that have passed. NASA has taken these photos from different angles and altitudes to show that the original image was nothing more than a coincidence caused by lighting and low-resolution cameras. Ray tracing has shown that the Face on Mars has a unique shape but does not actually resemble a face.
Still, there are plenty of other formations on Mars that have interesting shapes that humans want more answers for, including pyramids, a bear’s face, and even formations that resemble characters from Sesame Street. Because we have yet to walk on Mars, there are still a lot of questions but hopefully in the coming decades will be able to answer many of these questions. If humans ever do indeed inhabit Mars, we’ll be able to get firsthand answers, but for now, we’re left wondering what type of life could be on Mars and whether or not they’re capable of carving facial formations.