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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Apr > Apr 22

ESA Admits Doubts About Their Mars Face Model

From: Lan Fleming <lfleming6.nul>
Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2007 15:17:47 -0500
Fwd Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2007 08:08:28 -0400
Subject: ESA Admits Doubts About Their Mars Face Model

Late last year, an image was widely published in the popular
media that depicted what was purportedly a 3-dimensional model
of the Face On Mars. The model was constructed from images of
the landform taken by a stereo-camera aboard the European Space
Agency's Mars Express orbiter. The model showed the Face with an
extremely irregular surface and a huge 'horn' rising out of the
'forehead', making the landform appear so mis-shapen that did
not merely cast doubt on its artificiality, but made it appear
absurd that the question would have ever been raised at all.

Phil Plait also used the image for a debunking article in Sky
and Telescope, seizing upon it as un-critically as he did the
mis-identification of the object seen by the Apollo 11
astronauts as a large panel from the booster rocket that was
probably several thousand miles away at the time of the

I wrote an article on this ESA Mars Face model for the Society
for Planetary SETI Research (SPSR). last February. that laid out
the  severe technical flaws in the mode and that discussed the
possible motivations for the release of the flawed model and its
unquestioning acceptance by the news media and the professional
skeptics. The article is at:


Dr. Horace Crater, an astrophysicist at the University of
Tennessee and President of SPSR, also queried the ESA scientists
responsible for the image's release and received two replies.

The first reply, mentioned in my article, was from a public
affairs representative. It informed us that the model's vertical
scale had been exaggerated by a factor of at least 2, explaining
in part why the surface looked so bumpy. But the exaggerated
scale did not explain the presence of the 'horn' for which there
is no evidence in any other image.

Recently, Crater received a reply from Dr. Gerhard Neukum, the
principal investigator for the ESA Mars Express stereo camera
work. Unsurprisingly, Neukum makes no comment about my
'sociological' analysis of why these dubious enhancements are
done and why they're accepted as credible by the media. But he
does essentially concur with my conclusions about the technical
problems with the image. I include Neukum's email below, and it
is also on the SPSR web site:


Regardless of what one may think about the Face's artificiality,
I think this sort of exchange is helpful to put debates on
subjects like this on a more rational - and civil - basis. And,
of course, I find it satisfying to get an acknowledgement from a
high-ranking scientist that I know what I'm talking about. At
least some of the time.


Dear Professor Crater,

Thank you for the paper that you and your colleague provided.

I read through the article and I can't help feeling that we have
some misunderstanding about the Face Mesa and the data used in
our press release.

Let's start with the "high peak rising from the center of the

". To make sure that we are talking about the same images, I
will refer to the naming scheme at the bottom of our webpage:


Lan Fleming correctly identified two different DTMs in the
various released images. One is larger in area and was used in
the images #3d1, #3d2, #3d3, #3d4 and #3d7. A second one has
been produced for the area of the Face Mesa only and was used in
the images #3d5 and #3d6. Judging from the Fleming paper it is
the second DTM that is causing some concern.

The "peak on the forehead" marks the highest spot in the second
DTM. Still we are also not convinced, that the "peak" exists in
the way it appears in the second DTM. It may just as well be an
artifact created by the DTM matching algorithm. All our press
products are based on standard DTMs derived in an automated way,
and which do not match scientific standards necessarily, and are
not error-checked. We understand that this might have caused
some disturbances in the case of the Cydonia release.

The second issue I would like to address is the MSSS credit line
of the images #3d5 and #3d6. We incorporated the MOC image E03-
00824 into the color-overlay of the DTM to increase the level of
visible detail. This procedure leaves the DTM, which is solely
derived from HRSC data, unmodified.

Best regards,

Gerhard Neukum


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