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The Face on Mars
Viking Photos

Viking image 35A72 Viking image 70A13
Viking image 35A72 - Colorized Viking image 70A13 - Colorized

Viking 1 took the first main images of
Cydonia - 35A72 and 70A13 in 1976.

Marvin the Martian
The Overlooked Images
In 1976, Viking 1 was the much anticipated next logical step after the Mercury and Apollo missions. On this groundbreaking survey, the primitive probe/spacecraft took many thousands of pictures red planet's features and sent them back to NASA. On July 25th, Tobias Owen of JPL was going over the data from Viking 1, for possible landing sites for Viking 2, when he came across a glimpse of history. "Oh my god, look at this! That looks like a face!" he said, as he examined frame 35A72 (below), a solitary structure reminiscent of the Sphinx, staring serenely out into space.

In a press conference later that same day, Viking project spokesman Gerry Soffen coined the famous phrase "trick of light and shadow" - and claimed that just a few hours later, the image no longer appeared to be a face - casually dismissing perhaps one of the greatest discoveries of all time. This was, in fact, a lie - there were no pictures taken of Cydonia a few hours later, as night had fallen on that side of the rusty planet. Any "later" photograph proving that the mound in no way resembled a human face was not to be forthcoming - and if any other Cydonian images were ever shot, the matter was not discussed openly. There were to be no further images released to the public until Mars Global Surveyor - on May 5, 1998.

JPL Press release photo from Viking 1 frame 35A72

JPL Press release on The Face on Mars - July 31, 1976
This picture is one of many taken in the northern latitudes of Mars by the Viking 1 orbiter in search of a landing site for Viking 2. 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 illusions of eyes, nose, and a mouth. The feature is 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) across, with the sun angle at approximately 20 degrees. The speckeld 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 1,873 kilometers (1,162 miles). Viking 2 will arrive in Mars orbit next Saturday [August 7] with a landing scheduled for early September.

In the above caption, replace the possibly intentionally misleading NASA words
"shadows" with "fissures" or "indentations" - and "illusions" with "appearance."
Cydonia investigators believe that this press release was censored at the last minute
and that the original statement reflected the scientists true feelings of astonishment and 
cautious celebration, regarding the surprising discovery on the first close-up photos of Mars.
Imagine how many more telling sentences might have been omitted from this announcement
regarding the first images from another planet, that just happen to reveal not one, but several,
possibly man made monuments - and suddenly the whole Cydonian issue is taken more seriously. 

35A72 - from Viking 1

From: The Case for the Face - by McDaniel, Paxon, et al - p. 69
The next development was a decision from NASA that Viking 2 would not, after all, land at Cydonia. Apparently the site was now deemed "unsafe." According to Carl Sagan:
44 degrees north was completely inaccessible to radar site-certification; we had to accept a significant risk of failure with Viking 2 if it was committed to high northern latitudes. . . . To improve the Viking options, additional landing sites, geologically very different from Chryse and Cydonia, were selected in the radar-certified region near 4 degrees south latitude.
All this notwithstanding, it is an extraordinary fact that Viking 2 was finally set down at a latitude even higher than Cydonia. It landed - and was almost overturned by boulders - on the distinctly unpromising rock-strewn plain called Utopia, at 47.7 degrees north latitude, on 3 September 1976. Thus - for no obvious reason says James Hurtak - "a multimillion dollar effort may have overlooked 'paydirt' and may have become a trivial event. . . . A poor selective factor had been used to choose an area of minor geological and biological significance. It was like choosing the Sahara Desert as a suitable landing site on our own planet."

35A72 - from Viking 1
NASA Viking 1 Frame 35A72 - from the 1979 German book Wir, vom Mars by Walter Hain
The many dots in the image above is "salt and pepper" or "bit errors" or missing-data static,

Spin Control
The whole issue of Cydonia as a possible landing site was dropped as soon as the pictures became public. This is quite surprising considering that it was a far better and more interesting candidate than Utopia (where Viking 2 ultimately landed), According to Carl Sagan: "there was a significant chance of small quantities of liquid water there." There can be only one reason for the sudden dismissal: they didn't want anyone to know about the strange monuments found there. Any proof of anything beyond what is considered to be accepted human history would be controversial in the extreme. But is it possible that Cydonia was not left alone, but actually highly classified at the highest levels? And what could already seem more ridiculous, more easily dismissed, by serious "respectable" science? To quote the movie Contact, ironically written by Carl Sagan, "first rule of government spending: why have only one, when you can have two at twice the price?" How many missions could there possibly be that the public at large knows nothing about? And how many of the supposedly malfunctioned spacecraft, are actually alive and well?

The only way that "we the people" would have gotten anything anywhere near full disclosure from the Mars missions would have been if all of NASA's wildest hopes and dreams had come amazingly true - that Mars was, as previous data had suggested, capable of supporting life as we understood it in the 1960s and 70s. If Mars had moss or algae, or even insects - big business would have been instantly involved and there would certainly be people there by now. Imagine, another tiny island to be conquered - completely isolated from outside interference and no pesky indeginous inhabitants to lay claim to the wealth of resources to be found on an entire planet - not to mention the strategic military and political values. Perhaps science and civilization have been given a back seat to these interests.

Ever since man began sending missions to Mars, nearly all of them have mysteriously failed. It seems that if they manage to make it into space at all, they break down somehow, or all contact is lost, or they crash onto the surface of the planet, never to be heard from again - sometimes under such mysterious circumstances as to raise the eyebrows of ufologists. One perhaps intentional effect of all this staggering disappointment is that the public at large, though perhaps at first intensely curious about the red planet, ultimately has no idea of the controversial reality. Many suspect that this was far too convenient to be true, as it only served to decrease attention and increase the distance between the public and that arm of the space program - and if there really are monuments on Mars, the powers that be have no intention of sharing that information with the general public. It is also especially highly likely that what can be found out on the subject is only the smallest fraction and most easily dismissable aspect of the entire story. Who knows - perhaps, as ufologists suggest, there really is sentient life on Mars, occasionally shooting down whatever probes of ours they can.

Viking 1 Landing Site
Viking 1 landed at Chryse Planitia on July 20, 1976
just north of Valles Marineris

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