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The Face On Mars

Written by: George Chittenden : 10 Dec 2019

This incredible photo was taken on July 25th, 1976 by the Viking 1 Orbiter on the surface of the planet Mars. As you can well imagine, this image of what appears to be a humanoid face caught the worlds’ attention, causing people to leap to the assumption that it was an eroded rock formation carved by aliens. The photo was one of eighteen images that were taken in an area of the red planet known as the Cydonia region. Of the eighteen images, only five had resolutions better than 250 m/pixel, making it possible to effectively study surface features. This image known as 035A72 is one of those images.

The face on mars, taken by the Viking 1 Orbiter

The face on mars, taken by the Viking 1 Orbiter

Initially Viking chief scientist Gerry Soffen dismissed the "Face on Mars" in image 035A72 as a "trick of light and shadow”, however 35 Viking orbits later at a different sun-angle from the 035A72 image, two computer engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center captured another image showing the face. We now know, thanks to high resolution photos taken in 1998 and 2001 that it’s a trick of the eye. The surface rock on mars erodes unevenly leaving some areas higher and others lower, which creates the shadow, making it look like a face at certain times.

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