S.A.E.T.I. on example Mars Face
A new space odyssey
A report by Walter Hain
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"The object before which the spacesuited man was posing was a vertical slab of jet-black material, about ten feet high and five feet wide: it reminded Floyd, somewhat ominously, of a giant tombstone... ‘You see, it is approximately three million years old. What you are now looking at is the first evidence of intelligent life beyond the Earth’, Dr. Michaels declared."
This is a part of the wellknown story "2001: A Space Odyssey" by Arthur C. Clarke, published in 1968. It was a genius story. She leans on, at the general atmosphere on the world by those round circled Earth missiles, Sputniks and satellites. Can however that become reality? What comes about if we found an object actual from extraterrestrials on another celestial body in our solar system?
The year 1968 was also the departure of mankind to another celestial body: the Moon. American astronauts were prepared for the first landing of people on the Earth trabant . It was an incredible atmosphere of departure on the whole world. On July 24, 1969, a year later, the landing was succeesful at the Moon, in the "sea of rest", Mare Tranquilitatis. A mankinds dream became reality. Five landings followed further to the Moon until 1972. The human being now became to space farers!
There was also another atmosphere of departure in 1968. Some researchers and authors were of the opinion, it was already before millennia other astronauts on our Earth. In the myths and legends, Gods which at one time came from the sky are mentioned. What did seem likely than to make these Gods to astronauts. If capable of the people now are space travel to operate why should they not also dominate other living beings on other celestial bodies. And they are perhaps much held over and have spaceships which they can bear through the infinite widths of the cosmos. Too on rock drawings and wall reliefs in temples and at old buildings, strange figures which are reminiscent of astronauts are to be seen.
Already in 1962 and 1965, the French researchers and book authors Luis Pauwels, Jacques Bergier and Robert Charroux means that the Gods were astronauts. Even the angels in the Bible should have been space travellers. However, Erich von Däniken caused the great God astronauts boom in summer 1968. Its first book "Erinnerungen an die Zukunft" (later in English published as "Chariots of the Gods") sold itself 20.000 times within a month.
In the year 1975 it began a new space odyssey. The NASA started two space probes, Viking 1 and Viking 2, to the planet Mars which should search for the first time for life on Mars. One landed on July 20, 1976 in the "land of gold", Chryse Planitia. The other one on September 4, 1976 in Utopia. Both landing units had an automatic bio laboratory on board which should carry out chemical analyses. Life could not then be proved directly. However, something other excited ones the people of NASA at the Jet Propulasion Laboratory, JPL, in Pasadena, JPL, in California. When the space probe Viking 1 flew over the Cydonia area, looked suddenly something from the Mars surface towards her, a human like face. The NASA people had not immediately seen the picture however the space probe made pictures of it which then noticed her about themselves.
Tobias Owen was the first one who held the picture of this face in his hands. He showed it Gerry Soffen, which then presented the Mars pictures to the press with the words: "Oh, my God, look at this! Gee whiz, isn’t that weird!"
The first complete image P-17384 of the "Mars Face" by NASA/JPL.
In the next room, in the meantime, a whole slant of journalists and press people had collected in order to receive the first "live data" from Mars. There were people from every land of the world. Gerry Soffen got up in front of the press and showed them this quirky face and said: "Isn’t it peculiar what tricks of lighting and shadows can do? When we took a picture a few hours later it all went away; it was just a trick, just the way the light fell on it." Somebody made a joke: "The head is telling us where to land." All the reporters present accepted the opinion of the Viking Mission expert. The present press people believed the words from Gerry Soffen. He was a very open scientist and in such a way, nobody moved his words into doubt. No further questions were also put there.
Another scientist, Dr. Harold Masursky, of the US Geological Survey Center, in Flagstaff, Arizona, has made in the news paper "Science News" of August 7, 1976 the funny statement about this face-like structure: "This is the guy that built all of Lowell’s canals." And that was it! Hardly a newspaper, hardly a reporter issued anythging in the next few weeks and months about this peculiarity on Mars. The NASA had meanwhile placed the picture with the number P-17384 (35A72) into the files on July 31, 1976.
On December 15, 1976, I was watching the late news on the Austrian television channel, ORF, when suddenly a special film was screened. The commentator presented the film which was said to have been taken by Viking 1 during its search for a suitable landing site. Till today I don’t know were the film has made. He could also be made by means of the NASA picture by a press agency. I had seen this thing anyway on Mars then for the first time and I immediately made enquiries. From the Austrian televison, I received a photograph outlet of this film in the 35mm black on white format which however was not very informative. It was a pure black and white picture without grey scales. I was convinced anyway so far that on the original NASA picture would be had to be seen more. In such a way, I wrote to different NASA institutions which at this time stood in connection with the Viking mission. Also because no further information about this alleged NASA film could be given to me by the Austrian television.
Whilst the other branches of NASA did not reply, I actually did receive several Viking mission photos from the JPL on October 31, 1977. Apparently, they had no knowledge of a "Mars Face". A gentleman by the name of Don Bane, from the Public Information Office, wrote to me: "Those nicknames you give the picture (like ‘Marsface’) mean absolutely nothing to me – they are your nicknames, not mine." And some lines above in this letter Don wrote: "I send thousands of pictures each mounth to hundreds of people. I can’t possibly remeber what I have sent to anyone." I would absolutely have to quote the archive numbers of the photo, or he would not be able to help me any furher. A must say, that at this time it was not usual to publish the archiv numbers of any picture of the Viking mission. And from this "Face" on Mars did in any case report nowhere.
Text from the letter of Don Bane, JPL, of October 31, 1977.
However, I did not yield. If there should already be a NASA film of this face, a picture would be had to be received nevertheless also from that. And on March 2, 1978, I had received a further letter from Don Bane. He wrote: "At last I know what you mean when you refer to the ‘mars face’ picture!" At last, I had "my Mars Face", and it was a very good picture which featured very good details. Although one half of the Face was still lying in shadow, some "points of light" were discernible and able to be used as the basis for further investigations (see image above).
Text from the letter of Don Bane, JPL, of March 2, 1978.
In this letter, Don also let me know the precise co-ordinates of the object on Mars: 40.89 degrees North latitude and 9.55 degrees West longitude. This imediately enabled me to pinpoint the position of the "Mars Face" to the Cydonia region. Finally, Don offered the opinion in this letter, in reply to my request for more and better shots of this object, that no other picture of it exist. On the back of the photo was added the mentioned press release dated with July 31, 1976 with more precise information on the photo from Viking 1 with the following words:
„The picture shows eroded mesa-like landforms. The huge rock formation
in the center, which resembles a human head, is formed by shadows
giving the illusion of eyes, nose and mouth. The feature is 1.5
kilometers (one mile) across, with the sun angle at approximately
20 degrees. The speckled appearance of the image is due to bit errors,
emphasized by enlargement of the photo. The picture was taken on July
25 from a range of 1873 kilometers (1162 miles). Viking 2 will arrive
in Mars orbit next Saturday (August 7) with a landing scheduled for
The complete photo caption see here >>>
So for the time being I had no other option but to carry out my own experiments. I designe a model – a reconstruction of the Face. Using a modelling clay, I constructed a face which resembled the one on Mars as closely as possible and illuminated it with a spoptlight exactly as described in the JPL press release. I came to the conclusion that in the original shots, something of the shadowed half of the Face must be visible. However, at this time no corresponding graphics programs were available to me to find out more. I made a drawing based upon the NASA picture with the exact location of the Face and I was surprised about the symmetry. I compared the size of the Face with the size of the Cheops pyramid in Egypt.
Towards the press release, Don wrote to me that the sunlight came in to the Face on an angle of 10 degrees. Through a misunderstanding with "one mile across" I had specified the size of the Face from the "chin" to the "forehead" with 1.5 kilometers. Only years later, according to the American investigations, I had recognized that this is the width of the Face.
At this time, in 1978, I had some difficulties to make at all considerably to the public, the press and experts attentive to this "Mars Face". I decided a book about it and about other hypotheses about the red planet. It went at the end of 1978 at printing and it was ready in February 1979. It was my book "Wir, vom Mars" (We, from Mars), published by a small publisher in Cologne, Germany, with a considerable printing costs subsidy from myself. In October 1979, I presented my book at the wellknown Frankfurter book fair with a large photograph of the Face. The interest was yet very small although visitors quite some surprises they came via the picture but no doubt. Nobody did believe so right that such a thing would be able to be there on Mars.
For this purpose, one must know, that I was a member of the "Ancient Astronaut Society", AAS, founded in 1973 by the American lawyer Dr. Gene M. Phillips of Illinois, in order to find a broader basis for the exploration of indications of extraterrestrial intelligences at the pre-time. Members of the society were people of interest, famous personalities and some scientists. An essential part of it had Erich von Däniken who had already great success with his books about this "prae astronauts".I had informed him of course about the Face on Mars. If the alleged indications for extraterrestrial Gods visits, in the form of other ones intelligences, they should not be convincing enough, no doubt. An artificial subject on Mars would then be the final evidence for the prae astronaut hypothesis. On June 5, 1978, I contacted Gene Phillips about the Face on Mars. In a letter on October 22, 1978, he stated that " the ‘face’ is indeed fascinating but I do not think there is enough substantiation for publication through our society".
After I learned my book was published I wrote again to Don Bane in order to try to possibly procure some more and better photos of the Face. In a letter of September 12, 1978 he wrote to me: "Since you already have a picture of the face, I see no need to load you down with another, and we have no picture that shows that region at closer range." The Face had come into existence trough a combination of wind erosion and sun light.
Text from the letter of Don Bane, JPL, of September 12, 1978.
When my book was published, after March 1979, I published several newspaper articles in Austria and in Germany. Also Erich von Däniken showed a spark of interest after receiving my sample book copy, after an initial lack of interest. In the German edition of the newspaper of the AAS "Ancient Skies" of July/August 1980 I could publish a report about the Face with the title "Kamen die Götter vom Mars?" (Did the Gods came from Mars?) including a photo of the Face and my reconstructive drawing of 1978. The newspaper also announced a lecture by me, presented at a one day meeting of AAS members in Fulda, Germany, on October 25, 1980. The interest was also not especially great according to my lecture. But after the meeting, Prof. Dr. Harry O. Ruppe, specialist for space travel technology at the Technical University in Munich, Germany, announced to us who had presented lectures, that he would intervene in the matter of the Face on Mars. However, that was then unfortunately not the case. One would have been able to already then quite carry out closer scientific investigations on the first Mars picture. However no institute and no university was then interested thereby in Europe.
At this time, I read by coincidence, in the 23rd October, 1980 issue of the Geman magazine "Stern", about two Americans, Vincent DiPietro and Gregory Molenar. These two had produced posters and paper reports about the Face on Mars and were alleged to be spreading the world about contacts between the ancient Egyptians and Martian inhabitants. Since there was no mention in the report about new results in relation to the Face on Mars, and the only illustration was the photo which was now very familiar to me, I did not think it necessary at that time to contact the two Americans. Today, I know that this was a mistake – I could have saved myself considerable hardship.
In January 1981, a reader letter was still published by me in the wellknown German journal "Bild der Wissenschaft" (Picture of Science). where I made attentive to the Mars Face. However nothing resulted further. Also the wellknown engineer Philip J .Klass, employee of the journal "Aviation Week & Space Technology" and book author, was not very impressed by the Face as he has visited me on January 10, 1983. In August 1985, the German edition of the magazine "Penthouse", carried a report by Prof. Harry O. Ruppe about the Face and the other structures on Mars under the title "Monument auf dem Mars" (Monument on Mars). However this report was not known to me at that time. In such a way, I placed my efforts away however I should have a surprise in 1987.
On April 4, 1987, I was sitting unsuspectingly in front of the television, watching the "Incredible Stories" of the Luxembourg TV channel RTL plus. The well-known reference book author Johannes von Buttlar presented his book "Leben auf dem Mars" (Life on Mars). The cover of the book shows the Face on Mars, which was already confessed to me. The author never got in touch with me and I also had no knowledge of his research. He also showed the colored computer images from Vincent DiPietro and Gregory Molennar. But the part which was, for me, "incredible", was that he presented a bad photo of my Mars Face model and designated it as a possible forgery. I immediately wrote to the shows’s compare. I was promised that the matter would be put right – but that has not eventuated till today.
But so I have learned, that the two Americans, Vincent DiPietro and Gregory Molenaar, have done a very good scientific work. The two Americans had indeed detected in fact one further photo of the Mars Face of 1976 in the archive of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Washington D.C. And therefore they found out, that this human face is not accomplished on Mars only by a specific incidence of light.
I found out by own enquiries that there were investigations of the appropriate Mars pictures extensive already in 1984, that the American science writer and analyst Richard C. Hoagland had scheduled. An "Independent Mars Investigation Team", existing from several specialists, under it also Vincent DiPietro and Gregory Molenaar, would exhibit firm that the Mars face and further strange Mars structures would be able to be possibly the factory of Mars inhabitants. In the book "The Face on Mars", by Randolfo R. Pozos, published 1986 in Chicago, I could all that read, after I had received one in 1987. The official title of the report of the team was:
PRELIMINARY REPORT OF THE INDEPENDENT MARS INVESTIGATION TEAM:
NEW EVIDENCE OF PRIOR HABITATION?
(C) 1984 by Richard C. Hoagland, Organizer
Independent Mars Investigation Team
August, 1984 (Revised December 12, 1984)
Of course, I immediately wrote to some of the appropriate persons, nevertheless merely from Vincent DiPietro I received an answer and its corresponding publications - a publication through the Goddard Space Flight Center, where he is a employee, of June 8, 1987, below the title "Unusual Martian Surface Feature" and a pamphlet of 1988 with the same name. In Chicago, in 1989, during a world conference of the AAS, from August 25 to August 27, I had the occasion, to meet Vincent DiPietro and Gregory Molenaar in person and I was also later directly at the place of work of Vincent DiPietro in the Goddard Space Flight Center. It was a friendly meeting pleasant to me.
In 1987, Richard C. Hoagland has published a book with the title "The Monuments of Mars". He describes his efforts for the investigations of the Mars things and he appears amazed via a publication of the journal "Soviet Life", dated of August 1984, which might burst in into the middle of the American activities. In the report "Pyramids on Mars?", it is claimed allegedly that the Russians had detected these Mars structures as well as the Mars face already in 1983. After I checked the book of Hoagland, I found a picture of the appropriate report which shows my drawing of 1978. The report was written from Vladimir Avinsky, whose name was already confessed me as a member of the "Ancient Astronaut Society". That was a further shock for me. My publications, without my knowledge, there wander around the world with the contention ones would have detected the Mars structures and the Mars face. During the conference in Chicago in 1989 however, I had a clarifying conversation with Vladimir Avinsky. He has published a book where he mentions my drawing with my name. However that had refrained the journal "Soviet Life". The picture has taken Avinsky from my report in "Ancient Skies" from 1980 without informed me.
On August 3, 1993, I could again during a world conference of the "Ancient Astronaut Society", hold a lecture in Las Vegas, and on September 16, 1994 one in Sydney, Australia. In 1995 was published my book "Das Marsgesicht" through the wellknown German publisher Herbig in Munich in which I describe my discoveries at length. This book was translated into several languages - but not in English. I then held further lectures in Austria, Germany and in Switzerland and published some newspaper reports.
In any way Vincent and Gregory had already in fall 1979 detected a further picture of the Mars face in the NASA archive of the Goddard Space Flight Center. Already in 1977, Vincent DiPietro had seen in an obscure prae-astronautic magazine, a picture of the Mars face, but he was in the opinion that it is a joke. But this new photo, made a month after the first photo 35A72, also made from Viking 1, on August 29, 1976, registered under the number 70A13, however, had convinced him. The sun lay at this time in the West, 27 degrees over the horizon - therefore, the thing was below an other, shorter shadow. It shows a human face rather even more clearly. By different picture investigations, too with the aid of a false colour analysis, the two Americans could find closer details as a pupil in an eye of the Face.
Vincent DiPietro and Gregory Molenaar presented its investigation results for the first time publicly by means of paper reports and pictures on May 1, 1980 in a hotel in Lanham, in Maryland. However, the interest was small. Merely a hand full prospective customers, some astronomers of the NASA and some reporters of magazines and radio stations were present. A NASA speaker joked: "I hope you have better luck than we do!". He was rather amused via the small investment of the press and the public, Vincent DiPietro later reported.
On June 16, 1980, the both ones held a lecture during the annual conference of the "American Astronomical Society" in College Park, in Maryland. Several broadcast reporters and press people, which also received photographs of the computer analyses of the two Americans, were present. Already before, on May 26, 1980, appeared a report about the investigation results of the two Americans in the journal "Sunpapers" in Baltimore. Till 1985, there were several publications of the results of the two Americans and they also held lectures. Under that a report in the worldwide known and recognized serious "Washington Post" on May 28, 1980: in the "Los Angeles Times" dated on June 1, 1980; in the science magazine "OMNI" in October 1980 and April 1982; in the "London Daily Telegraph" of November 19, 1984 and during the Mars conferences "The Case for Mars" of the University in Boulder, Colorado, in April and May 1981 and from July 10 to July 14, 1984. By these activities of 1980, the German magazine "Stern" would be allowed to have become attentive. Richard C. Hoagland was also present in 1981 in Boulder and he meet for the first time DiPietro and Molenaar. According to his own words however, he did not imitate made "click" in his head. He forgot for the time the Mars pictures.
The wellknown American astronomer and science author Dr. Carl Sagan, still in the year 1976, with the aid of students, searched after strange and striking objects, by means of numerous Mars pictures, however they discovered nothing – also not the Mars Face. Later, when the pictures were also confessed to him by DiPietro and Molenaar, he wrote in the magazine "Parade" of June 1985, he "might not support the theory that the face in Cydonia was artificially constructed. However, he has not enough evidences against it".
Tobias Owen, together with Donald Goldsmith, published in 1980 a book with the title "The Search for Life in the Universe", nevertheless he mentions the Mars Face with no word. Although he writes about UFO's and about Erich von Däniken. But in their third edition of 2001 the Face is now interesting enough for the authors and they mention it with pictures.
Another American author, David L. Chandler, represents in his book "Life on Mars", appeared in 1979, the opinion of the press speaker of the NASA of 1976 if he writes: "Some hours later, when the solar angle and the shadow changed, this area showed a very usual structure, a fleeting illusion."
In the year 1986, a new Mars Investigation Group, mentioned shortly as "MIG", formed itself, at the University of California in Berkeley. Involved with that team were also Dr. Brian O’Leary, a former American astronaut and Dr. David Webb, a former space travel consultant of the American president. This team came again to the conclusion, that this Mars Face and the other striking Mars structures should be investigated more closely with further space probes. From there, now the Mars Face was relatively well known to the public, it is flowed in into Hollywood movies as in 1986 in "Invaders from Mars", a reproduction of the old film of 1953 and later in the year 2000 in "Mission to Mars".
According to many inquiries in the case of the JPL, among other things by protest rallies of Hoagland supporters, the NASA has itself include the face in a determined manner - if it is possible - with new Mars probes more closely and that was successful on April 5, 1998 with the space probe Mars Global Surveyor. The object shows again the similarity with a human face as that has already followed from the computer analyses of the Viking pictures. This space probe, on April 8, 2001, then succeeded the clearest image, with a resolution of only 1.86 meters. The details are to be seen precisly. Later, further pictures were made through the same space probe and from other space probes like the orbiter 2001 Mars Odyssey in 2002 and 2004, the European Mars Express in 2006 and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in the year 2007. All the pictures let as recognize a similarity to a human face, like the pictures before of the Viking probes - even it is simply an unusual natural rock. However, it is by no means only a "fleeting illusion" and also no a cloud game as some people meant.
The Face on Mars photographed on May 5, 2004 by 2001 Mars Odyssey.
Donald Goldsmith and Tobias Owen wrote again about the Face: "The resulting image clearly shows that we are dealing with an entirely natural feature of the martian landscape. which resembles a human face only when lighting conditions and the camera viewing angle are just right." (2001, Page 356) This in comparison to the bad and raw images of 1998. The fact is, that this mountain an Mars is visible as a human face under different sun angles from 10 to 27 degrees (perhaps more) and an image of 2001 Mars Odyssey of October 24, 2002, with the sunlight coming from the East, shows also (but indeed not so good) a humaniod like feature.
It is not right if scientists say that people seeing faces were no faces are, the nature makes structures like human faces - or the humans itself carved their own faces in stones and buildings. So human faces on rocks on another planet can be indeed artificial constructed like the faces of the American presidents on the Mount Rushmore.
In the beginnings of the discovery the NASA, like many astronomers, geologists and other scientists, press people and specialized book authors, have this face on Mars completely ignored or taken not seriously - with exception of Vincent DiPietro and Gregory Molenaar. Those however had the same fate in America as I had in Europe. For me it was in anyway a true Mars odyssey, that led over many ways around the world and for all others it was a new space odyssey in accordance to the introduction of Arthur C. Clarke. The Mars Face is now an example how we handle an extremely strange discovery that would be able refer to an artificial origin from extraterrestrial intelligences: with mockery and ignorance. The NASA flies to Mars for the search after traces of life and they do not find it necessarily to give more attention to an extremely striking Mars surface feature. That was unintelligible to many people. In the future, we should be more cautious during such or similar discoveries and we should saw at it perhaps more precisely - even if the first impression is a completely usual one.
The Mars Face in the Cydonia area is in anyway the first object outside of our Earth which was examined for a scientifically wise - almost worldwide - ones for a possible factory of extraterrestrial intelligences. In this way, it appertains for search after artifacts from extraterrestrial intelligent, SAETI (Search for Artifacts of Extraterrestrial Intelligences). A term which was created in 1992 by myself - in dependence on the known SETI investigation - and which should occupy a place value in this field. The search will go on even if the probability of a discovery in this direction is very small.
Books to this report:
Buttlar, Johannes v.: Leben auf dem Mars, Munich, 1987.
Carlotto, Mark J.: The Martian Enigmas, Berkeley, 1991.
Chandler, David L.: Life on Mars, New York, 1979.
DiPietro, Vincent; Molenaar, Gregory; Brandenburg, John :
Unusual Mars Surface Features, Glenn Dale, Fourth Edition, 1988.
Grossinger, Richard: Planetary Mysteries, Berkeley, 1986.
Hain, Walter, Wir vom Mars, Collogne ,1979.
-„- , Walter: We from Mars, self printed and revised version, Vienna, 1992.
-„- , Walter: Das Marsgesicht, Munich, 1995.
Hoagland, Richard C.: The Monuments of Mars, Berkeley, 1987.
-"- , Richard C.: Die Mars-Connection, Munich-Essen, 1994.
McDaniel, Stanley V.; Rix Paxson, Monica: The Case for the Face, Kempton, 1998.
Owen, Tobias; Goldsmith, Donald: Auf der Suche nach Leben im Weltall, Stuttgart,1985.
-„- ; Goldsmith, Donald: The Search for Life in the Universe, New York, 1980;
Third Edition, Sausalito, 2001.
Pozos, Randolfo R.: The Face on Mars, Chicago, 1986.
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