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Face on Mars Gets a Make-Over 232

Alien54 writes "ESA's Mars Express has obtained images of the Cydonia region, site of the famous 'Face on Mars.' using the High Resolution Stereo Camera. After multiple attempts to image the Cydonia region from April 2004 until July 2006 were frustrated by altitude and atmospheric dust and haze, the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board Mars Express finally obtained, on 22 July, a series of images that show the famous 'face' on Mars in unprecedented detail, with a ground resolution of approximately 13.7 metres per pixel."
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Face on Mars Gets a Make-Over

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (> on Friday September 22, 2006 @07:16AM (#16159770) Journal
    Taking these pictures of the face was the primary goal of this mission. ESA was sick of listening to its citizens bitch about there being a 30 year "pictures of the face on Mars" gap (that's a rough translation from European).

    But seriously, it is the first goal of the Mars Orbiter []:
    The Mars Express Orbiter will:
    • image the entire surface at high resolution (10 metres/pixel) and selected areas at super resolution (2 metres/pixel);
    • produce a map of the mineral composition of the surface at 100 metre resolution;
    • map the composition of the atmosphere and determine its global circulation;
    • determine the structure of the sub-surface to a depth of a few kilometres;
    • determine the effect of the atmosphere on the surface;
    • determine the interaction of the atmosphere with the solar wind.

    The Beagle 2 lander was planned to:
    • determine the geology and the mineral and chemical composition of the landing site;
    • search for life signatures (exobiology);
    • study the weather and climate.
    I guess I would rather see something more than just regular images come from a mission. Right now, I can see all these things on the ESA's site that help the user see all these pictures of Mars but I don't see any maps of mineral composition, atmospheric movement, etc. I've seen pictures, these are some great high quality images with 3D detail that are great screensaver material. But, for the love of science, when do we get the rest of the data from the mission -- you know, the stuff that is, like, going to alter the way we view Mars? Is the public never going to see these results?
  • A face huh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by celardore ( 844933 ) on Friday September 22, 2006 @07:31AM (#16159806)
    If that's meant to look like a face, it's a hella ugly one.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NeoTron ( 6020 )
      To me it looks more like an island, and the sea around it has gone...

      What strikes me about the pictures from the Mars Express is how weird they look - they look kind of artificial - like they've been hand-drawn/painted by a 1950's space artist. They don't look like a picture if you nkow what I'm trying to say. The colours are very "rich" and unreal looking - difficult to explain - it might be a result of the prcoessing they've gone through.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        As if they originated on an alien world? Minus a blue sky, lighting is much different.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by NeoTron ( 6020 )
          Yes I do realise that, thank you :)

          But take a look at 8-230906-3253-6-3d2-Cydonia_H.jpg [] and you'll see what I'm talking about. What I think they've done is really enhance the contrast of the picture. The colouring still reminds me of old 1950's style drawings of craters and the like.

          I wasn't trying to imply the pictures are fake at all, by the way. :)
          • by sk8king ( 573108 )
            It looks like a scene out of Starcraft or something. It does have that fabricated look, which is probably a result of photoshop brightness/colour/contrast editing as you suggested.
            • by mikael ( 484 )
              I've seen that done with the photographs in online property guides. It's rather funny to see the properties in your locality in super-saturated Disney technicolor with forest green trees, rich prairie green grass, deep electric blue skies, and sunlit Mediterranean whitewashed walls.
          • That's because you are linking to a *computer generated 3D image*. Try reading before posting. They generated that image from the data gathered by the Mars Express. It's not a photo, it's a computer renderization using as input the 3D data.
            • Yes but the actual colours are supposed to have originated on Mars itself, not just pulled out of a technician's ass.
              • Yes but the actual colours are supposed to have originated on Mars itself, not just pulled out of a technician's ass.

                What color should it be? The color you would see if you were standing on the martian surface, or the color the camera sees? The color the martian surface would have if it were here on the earth? Normalized for some "baseline" spectrum? Thing is, pictures are nearly always adjusted for optimal contrast and such. When scientists want to analyze the "color" of something, they don't grab a photo

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vhogemann ( 797994 )
        I'm just guessing, but, they look like 3D renders from the surface.

        Since the other pictures are anaglyphs (the sort of image that looks 3D when you use that red-blue 3D glasses), one can guess that they already processed the images to extract topological info... So a 3D render, to examine Mars surface details, seems logical to me.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by saider ( 177166 )

        From the FAQ...

        Yes, the images have been processed but that is quite normal. We are not taking colour photographs, we have to combine the different colour channels which requires processing time. Each of the four colour channels operate with a filter of different wavelength (red, green, blue and infrared) and produce data sets which have to be combined and calculated on to a digital elevation model.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by imsabbel ( 611519 )
        Well, thats easy.
        The original source is multiple band photographs and height information.
        As the "top down" view cannot really present that information, those are renderings using the height-field and texture data the probe collected.
      • It's almost as though the pictures taken after 1970 have been... dare we say it... altered somehow?

        Nah. Not OUR governments. They'd never lie about something like that.

        Maybe I'll feel less trusting when my tinfoil hat gets back from the cleaners.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by gfxguy ( 98788 )
          Didn't you hear the news? Tinfoil hats AMPLIFY their ability to read your mind.
          • I've had great success lately with brown paper bags. Ski masks work, too, with the added benefit that people generally do what you say when you wear them.
          • I've been saying this for years. But, you know these young kids these days. No experience with rabbit-ear modification and what not.
      • What strikes me about the pictures from the Mars Express is how weird they look - they look kind of artificial - like they've been hand-drawn/painted by a 1950's space artist. They don't look like a picture if you nkow what I'm trying to say. The colours are very "rich" and unreal looking - difficult to explain - it might be a result of the processing they've gone through.

        Now you've done it. You've given the tin foil hat crowd an excuse to say the NASA or ESA or whomever has altered the photos to erase ev
    • by Himring ( 646324 )
      Yes, but it has a good body. You just can't see it....
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dr_dank ( 472072 )
      Look at the title of the article; thats why it's getting a makeover.

      The upcoming Queer Eye for the Red Planet Probe is going to use an eyebrow plucking robot and deploy an "chic hat" so it can be the hip, modern face of Mars.
    • It's an ALIEN face, duh.
  • by p51d007 ( 656414 ) on Friday September 22, 2006 @07:32AM (#16159810)
    I doubt it......the Roswell types will say that the image was doctored to distort the truth bla bla bla. It is a formation of ROCKS....period. Same as the "old man on the mountain" in Georgia. Heck, as a kid, you ever see "things" in clouds?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 22, 2006 @07:50AM (#16159875)
      Look closely at this image [] of cydonia. Now look closely at the torso on this image [], that's proof positive that intelligent aliens with hyperdrive technology have travelled through this galaxy. For the doubters, here's a larger image []. I just can't believe that world governments have managed to keep the truth covered up for so long!

      The world needs to know!

    • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Friday September 22, 2006 @07:52AM (#16159884)
      Yes, but Richard Hoagland wouldn't sell any books if he just said it was just a rock formation. No, it's a CONSPIRACY and will be as long as there are people stupid enough to believe him.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by will_die ( 586523 )
      Old man of the mountain, of US State quarter fame, is New Hampshire. Well until it got blown up.
    • by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Friday September 22, 2006 @08:08AM (#16159934) Homepage
      There is no evidence that will quiet those people. Any contradiction to their already formed conclusion will simply be part of the "conspiracy".

      It's the same with anyone who has already made their decision without the need for evidence - more evidence doesn't do a thing to them.

      I have a feeling you could take some of those people who think NASA faked the moon landing to the moon IN PERSON and they would still conclude that it's an externally imposed delusion, because they are starting from the basic premise that they are right. Facts will need to fit that preconception. Same thing here.
      • ...the problem with looniness is that it can infect the sensible. A loon with the original "face" picture can spread the belief pretty easily. But if his target has seen the new pictures, it's gonna be a tougher sell.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by timholman ( 71886 )

        There is no evidence that will quiet those people. Any contradiction to their already formed conclusion will simply be part of the "conspiracy".

        Anyone with a few minutes to waste (and I do mean waste) can browse Richard Hoagland's web site ( and see just how true this statement is.

        Twenty years ago, before high-resolution photos of Mars were available, Hoagland got a lot of mileage out of the low-res Cydonia photos. I remember that he even wrote a couple of fairly serious speculative

  • by tbone1 ( 309237 ) on Friday September 22, 2006 @07:35AM (#16159823) Homepage
    I still say it looks like Al Gore.
  • What face? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Either I'm missing it or martian faces are anatomically distict from the faces of human kind (and that of president Bush). Can somebody please do a redline?
  • by ZaMoose ( 24734 ) on Friday September 22, 2006 @07:40AM (#16159840)
    This sort of information could be a death blow to conspiracy theories and the end of wild speculation as to the face's true origins and thus keep movies like John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars, Red Planet and Mission to Mars from being made!

    Oh wait, that's a good thing.

    Errrm, nevermind.
  • I like the "other" face on Mars better. It's a crater with rocks shaped like eyes and a smile: ars-and-the-happy-face/ []
  • by greg1104 ( 461138 ) <> on Friday September 22, 2006 @07:45AM (#16159853) Homepage
    See [] for a definition. A commentary on this particular image (along with some wicked cool visual illusions) is at x.html []

    Please excuse me, I have to return to searching my toast for the Virgin Mary now.
    • Well, there is God in my toast. I'm sure of that. And it's even in the bible, it says there that God is in all things.

  • by piggywig ( 780829 ) on Friday September 22, 2006 @07:47AM (#16159856)
    Yawn. Seen it all before. There are some conspiracy nutters who think theres something like that here on earth too. [].
  • by PeeAitchPee ( 712652 ) on Friday September 22, 2006 @07:57AM (#16159901)
    In case of slashdotting: :-o
  • So when are they releasing Google Mars?
  • I give it a week at most before the ufo/alien/conspiracy crowd produce their own 'optimised/cleaned up' version of these images that reveal not only the face, but the scaffolding left over from the aliens who built it, and the fossilised remains of their packed lunches.

    I recall that some nut managed to 'decifer' an entire city region buried around the so called face.

    I remember the very first time this image appeared (yes, I'm that old), there was a very interesting comment in the magazine at the time, being
  • We managed to get photographs of Aspasia's base... Oh no! They are gonna kill us all!

    (It's a book reference, just curious how many on /. will get it)
  • some oversized oxy pads to our friend....
  • by mrcgran ( 1002503 ) on Friday September 22, 2006 @08:31AM (#16160001)
    • by Alien54 ( 180860 )
      see this one in Peru:

      This doesn't show up in Nasa's World Wind program, so either it's an accident of smoke, etc from a fire or something, or else NASA didn't get a chance to manipulate all of the photos
  • by DavidHumus ( 725117 ) on Friday September 22, 2006 @08:51AM (#16160084)
    What's wrong with you people?

    Are we even looking at the same picture?

    Look, on the near side is the chin, up from there is the nose, up from there are the other two noses and to the right of these is the telepathy patch.

    You people are just too cynical for your own good.
  • The Iccccce Warriorssssss will not be pleassssssed.....

    (Oh bite me, everyone else got in their scifi refs.)
  • in other news.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by treskel ( 927405 )
    some people claim to have seen iesous(jesus, iesus, claims vary) on the very surface of earth 3,-71.959763&spn=0.075447,0.113811&t=k [] The human mind got some imprinted patterns, christians will see what they want to see, reptile sentients will see the holy Lizard king. Nothing new under the olde sun, have a nice day
  • by oneandoneis2 ( 777721 ) * on Friday September 22, 2006 @09:24AM (#16160239) Homepage
    It's hard to actually work out where the "face" is on the new, high-quality images - they show a lot more area and they're not taken at the same angle. I put a post on my blog [] with just the part of the image that shows the face, you might find it useful for comparisons.

  • I hope some "national historical monument" types don't want to preserve the face in pristine glory. As the most kitsch location on the planet I'd really like to think that someday there will be dual resort and entertainment domes in the eyes.
  • All your face belong to us.

    That is all.

  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Friday September 22, 2006 @10:16AM (#16160494) Homepage
    Even in more detail and from more angles, I find it still looksat least as much like a face as the Old Man of the Mountain [] in New Hampshire, the image of the Virgin Mary [] in a fogged thermopane window in Milton Hospital, Massachusetts.

    It also looks at least as much like a face as human-constructed faces that have been ravaged by time, such as the Sphinx [], or Michael Jackson.
  • []

    Look at the pattern made by Olympus Mons and the three mountains near it.

    They form an isosceles triangle. The three mountains are the base, almost equidistant from each other, in a straight line. The distance from Olympus to the middle of the three mountains is the same as the distance between the outer two of the three mountains.

    Is this all due to chance?
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      1) human beings are programmed to see faces.
      2) Yuo can find the same type of geological phenomenon here on earth.
      From the Woam of the West(I think thats what she is called.) This is a formation that looks exactly like a woman wearing a dress and apron. to the "fingure for the airforce".Loking at the woman from the west from the back, it looks exactly like someone giving the fingure. If I remember correctly, you can see this while traveling on the 'Herford highway'.

      3) I can find many triangles that are r
      • Hell, if the person in charge of NASA lied and said 'yep, thats not natural' we would have been on mars 15 years ago.

        If the person in charge of NASA said that they'd be fired, and rightly so.

        3) I can find many triangles that are related to something that mean nothing.

        Yeah? Show me.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Teilo ( 91279 )
        Shows what you know. We WERE on Mars 15 years ago. In fact, we are there now. Who do you think wipes off the solar panels on the rovers after a dust storm?
  • Ask the Moche People (Score:2, Informative)

    by scotbot ( 906561 )

    The only way we can tell for sure that these aren't articificial is actually to go there and see for ourselves. You cannot dismiss the apparently face-like features of the formation as mere tricks of the light or simulacra until you've discounted all the alternatives. As we cannot determine it's not an articificial structure from mere imagery, we have to go there and investigate in person (not that is gonna be forthcoming anytime soon).

    An earthly comparison

    In Peru there's a place that is dominated by

  • That looks like something in the Inland Empire area west of LA. That's a mountain range in what used to be a waterway, with the area below sea level silted up, so there are craggy hills sticking out of flat ground. The "face" is probably a similar formation - a small piece of a buried mountain range.
  • Somebody always has to go spoil a great fantasy!
  • It still looks like a giant face. No matter what angle it is from. And it still could be hiding a alien ship inside it and waiting for us to visit it to fill in the missing DNA sequence using sound. And maybe they will take us to their new home planet after Mars was destroyed by an asteroid. And maybe they will tell us they seeded human life on Earth before leaving Sol.

    Can you name the movie reference?

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle