Mars Image Analysis and Anomaly Research

Mars Image Analysis and Anomaly Research Al.Reaud Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:37

Mars is an interesting planet, whose likelihood of harboring life (not intelligent life) is high. Some of the authors investigations contained in this book began during the heyday of the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) mission. MGS was the first mars probe to take high resolution images of the planet.

Since that time, numerous other missions to Mars have occurred. Therefore, some of the following content is presented for archival purposes only till further analysis occurs. New discoveries may have rendered the topic moot…


Analysis of M0203051 - The 'King Face' Feature

Analysis of M0203051 - The 'King Face' Feature Al.Reaud Wed, 06/08/2011 - 19:15

NOTE: Updated 10/11/2016, links verified.

Analysis of Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image index number M0203051.  All images used are courtesy of NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems.

This investigator finally had a chance to give M0203051, the source image of the 'King Face', the attention it deserves.  Here are some speculative conjectures on the subject of its origin.  The conclusion of this independent investigator is that the 'King Face' lacks significantly indicia for artificiality, and is a feature of nature.  Other authors differ in its significance as an artificial feature, and for the sake of fairness and the scientific method, their conclusions are included herein where their material is available or where they have given permission to quote their work.

Following are the points addressed in this paper, with images used to illustrate the issues.  All images used are unmapped for simplicity.   Therefore please note that all compass directions are true, and in the following images, (N)orth is towards the bottom of the images.


Links to other author's works.

  1. The Feature and Initial Processing.
  2. The 'nose'.
  3. Ground Slope On The 'King Face', Using The MOLA Data.
  4. Solar Azimuth and Shadow Length Giving Feature Height.
  5. Shape from Shading (Photoclinometry) Results.
  6. The Crown and Similar Nearby Features.
  7. The Local Ambient Wind.
  8. Conclusions.
  9. Alternate Conclusions and Rebuttals.

Links to Other Author's Work:

Greg Orme's Martian Anomalies Web Pages.  Extensive research into Martian anomalies, including the 'King Face'.  Numerous links on that page to other articles, pages, and postings on the 'King Face' subject.

'King Face' shape from shading.  Also from Greg Orme's site, worth special notice as not many images have been rendered by this process.

Assessment of Overall Appearance of the New MGS Face Image.  By SPSR's Lan Fleming, an analysis of the Cydonia 'Face', with comparisons to the 'King Face'.

An Independent Look at Tom Van Flandern's “Crowned Face”.  By Mac Tonnies of Cydonia Imperative fame. (Sadly Mac Tonnies passed away on October 22, 2009. He will be missed… sad)

Artificial Structures on Mars.  From Tom Van Flandern's website, mentioned as item 44 on that page. (error reading HTTP response: Temporary failure in name resolution)

  1. The Feature and Initial Processing:

    'King Face' crop, unprocessed. 'King Face' crop, converted to RGB then auto-normalized, using GIMP
    Figure 1 Figure 2
    1. The 'King Face' is located at (249, 8717) in MOC image M0203051.  Shooting of this image is from 0.21° of nadir.  See Figure 1.
    2. Measurements of the 'King Face' area where done via hand selection of the 'King Face', copying, and insertion on a transparent back ground, then applying the histogram function to the resultant image.  This process gives an area of approximately 22356 pixels for the 'King Face', which translates to an area of 769,300 m2 (2.524·106 ft2).   This corresponds to an area of 0.769 km2 (0.091 mi2).
    3. Processing-wise, first cropping occurs on the 'King Face' general area, for speed in processing.   Secondly, since the image is originally in indexed GIF, conversion to RGB allows the full range of functions and filters using GIMP.   Finally, the GIMP Image -> Colors -> Auto-> Normalize function is used.   This spreads the image histogram range from 70-228 to 0-255, while attempting to retain the overall shape of the histogram.   See Figure 2.
  2. The 'nose':

    1. This pre-processing allows the 'nose bridge' to come into better view.  The 'nose bridge' goes from the 'nose' to the top of the 'crown'. Looking closely (see Figure 6),it looks suspiciously like a rock fall with accompanying slide.  By hand selecting out the 'nose', placement via translation to the 'Crown' is viable, following the 'nose bridge' trace.
    2. Moving the nose 'selection, without rotation, to the location (62, 57) on the 'crown' makes it fit in place so well that further adjustment is unnecessary.  It becomes another indistinguishable part of the 'crown'.
      'King Face' processed crop, indicating possible trajectory of 'Nose'. 'King Face' processed crop GIF animation, indicating possible trajectory of 'Nose'.
      Figure 3 Figure 4
    3. In Figure 3, the nose cutouts at normal position and at the 'Crown' are filled in with a gradient (RGB: 176, 229, 90, 30.5% opacity) for better visibility. Transparent yellow indicates the path of the 'nose' from the 'Crown' to the 'nose position' on the 'King Face'.
    4. A GIF movie, Figure 4, visually shows the proposed path of 'nose stone'.
  3. Ground Slope On The 'King Face', Using The MOLA Data.

    1. The MOLA data archive used is MGSL_21XX, from the MOLA PDS Geosciences Node.
    2. Spacecraft time determining the actual PEDR data to use resides in the PDS label in the IMQ file at M0203051.  This time value equates to a spacecraft time for the image as 614481377:145.  Finding the correct archive requires searching in the MOLA index table (160KB) fields for the proper spacecraft time.
    3. Given this spacecraft time value, the correct archive to use is ap11284l.b.  The preceding link takes you to the ap11xxx directory instead of the actual PEDR file, which is 33.3MB long.  Further processing occurs on this binary data file, via pedr2tab.exe software.  Pedr2tab creates a tabulated ASCII text file, which is usable with Microsoft Access database software.  Caution with computer resources should be noted here, as the archive data set contains over 835,000 shots.
    4. The image boundaries, Mars coordinates, are 1.94° to 3.39° Latitude N, 275.45° to 275.59° Longitude W.  Due to coordinate origin differences, all MOLA data set coordinates use E longitudes.  Therefore, the correct Longitudes are 84.41°E to 84.55°E.  A query on the database imported into Microsoft Access provided 200 data points for altimetry use.
    5. The spacing of these data points is 2.73·10-4 °/pixel in longitude and 9.9370·10-5 °/pixel in latitude.  Use of a spreadsheet (Microsoft Excel) simplifies the computation of actual pixels.  See Figure 5, an un-scaled section across approximately the whole image (511 pixels), from vertical pixel 8393 to 8954 (561 pixels).
    6. The slope at (249, 8717), computed from the MOLA Data is approximately -7.61%, -4.35°.  A dollop of caution is necessary, as the assumption is that the slope continues westwards from the MOLA track.  Viewing the image, Figure 5, one can see that the MOLA track goes over what appears to be a 'pass' for lack of better terms, on the 2nd through 4th shots from the top.  The 'pass' causes certain visual problems with the data points, which may be resolved by shifting the dataset up by 1 data point. As a 'pass' should be lower than the surrounding terrain, this better matches the data itself, since the second shot from the top hit close to what could be identified as the peak of a 'ridge'.  The third shot from the top then is at the approximate center of the 'pass' and is lower by 6.94 m (22.77 ft).
      'King Face' area crop, showing MOLA track and altitudes.Figure 5.
    7. The 4th shot hits what appears to be a field of fine debris akin to sand that has been blown through the 'pass'.  For the purposes of argument, let us assume that the 4th shot is not present, and we get the slope computed from the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th shots from the top.  This gives slopes of -2.34%, -1.34° from the 2nd to the 3rd shot, and -2.85%, -1.63° from the 3rd to the 5th shots.  Cumulatively, the slope from the 2nd to the 5thshot is -2.68%, -1.54°, which is consistent to the previous comparison. The interpretation of this is that the slope from the 2nd shot to the 5th shot is consistent, and falls by 23.81 m (78.12 ft) over 888.2 m (2914 ft).  Therefore, the 4th shot is to be thrown out with respect to estimation of the slope of the 'King Face ridge'.
  4. Solar Azimuth and Shadow Length Giving Feature Height.

    1. Using the ancillary data provided on M0203051, one gets significant information that is useful to interpret the image.  Pertinent information is the Scaled pixel width, Emission angle, Incidence angle, North azimuth, Sun azimuth, and Slant distance.
    2. The emission angle in conjunction with slant distance gives us a way to determine how far off from vertical we are.  For this image, our emission angle is 0.21°.  As an example, a 10m vertical wall would have a visual span of approximately 3.7 cm, or 0.12 ft.  This value, being so much less than 1 pixel in this image, can safely be ignored.  As example, from orbital height, 384.58 km (238.97 mi) , the emission angle causes a horizontal span of 1410 m (4625 ft) from vertical.
    3. The north azimuth likewise is immaterial in this section of the analysis, as it will only be pertinent in sections dealing with the local wind.  Notice that the center latitude of this image, 2.66°, is very close to equatorial.
    4. The incidence angle, along with the sun azimuth and scaled pixel width allow rough trigonometric computations of feature heights, to within a pixel resolution.  This is accomplished by use of the formula: height (m) = scaled pixel width (m/pixel)* shadow length (pixels) * tan(90°- incidence angle°).  The values should not be to more significant figures than the least significant of the figures used, which is probably the shadow length.  In our image, the sun angle above the horizon is 50.58°.  As example, a 10 m (32.8 ft) high object will cast a 8.2 m (27 ft) shadow at this sun elevation.
    5. With the above in mind, let us examine Figure 6, an un-normalized 5x cubic spline (GIMP) scaling of the 'King Face' section of M0203051, using lowercase roman numerals as designators:
      1. This feature is a dune field sectioned by a yellow sun azimuth line.  Observe at the point of the aqua line, that a dune aligned with the sun azimuth line casts no shadow.  Just to the right of that point, a dune crosses the sun azimuth line at approximately90°, and it casts a shadow approximately 1 pixel long in the original un-scaled image.  This indicates that the dune field is approximately7 m (23 ft) in height.  Though not rigorously proven, it is assumed that the length of the shadow depends on the sine of the angle the edge of the feature makes with the sun azimuth, i.e. a dune parallel to the sun azimuth has an angle of 0°, and hence sine( 0°) = 0.  A dune perpendicular to the sun azimuth has an angle of 90° to the sun azimuth, and therefore sine( 90°) = 1.  Research on this assertion will be the subject of future revisions to this page.
      2. This is the right jaw of the 'King Face'.  The 'right jaw' appears inline to the sun azimuth and therefore no height information is available from shadows.  Therefore, the darkening exhibited here is not due to shadows and must be some other form of discoloration such as dark material or wetting.
      3. Going towards the upper left of the image, on the continuing 'right jaw' line, this feature that starts out wide decreases to approximately one pixel in width. Shadows indicate that where the sun azimuth line sections this feature, it is approximately 7 m (23 ft) tall, there.  This estimation is uncertain though, as the original has minimal resolution in this area.  The 'jaw line' feature terminates in a 'knob'-like object at (iii-a).  The morphology almost appears to be that of a spring, with origin at (iii-a) and termination at (iii-b), with a fingerlike pattern.
      4. To the upper right of (iii), we see the 'lips'. Here, the terrain looks to slightly slope into a depression.  No feature here is significantly sharp to cast shadows, and any negative slope significantly greater than the emission angle would not cast a shadow in any event.  Looking to the lower right, towards (i), we can see at least four episodes of what looks to be fracturing with mass movement towards (i).
      5. Moving upwards of the 'lips' past the 'nose', we reach the 'eyes'.  The 'right eye' is at (v-a), the 'left eye' is at (v-b), and a comparison crater is at (v-c).  The morphology of (v-b) and (v-c) is almost exact.  (v-c) appears to have the hint of a central feature, but it is not extremely obvious. (v-a) is elliptical in nature.  All three have the appearance of well worn craters.  There is also the possibility of a larger crater, centered to the upper left of (v-a) which would define the whole 'right eye socket'.
      6. Finally, upwards of the 'eyes' we reach the 'crown'.  Here, we see an extension of the image features seen in Figure 5. The 'crown' continues to the SW (upper right) in Figure 5, and forms part of the high points of one of the visually aligned MOLA shots. Features of interest are a half circle of unknown interpretation, (vi), partially obscured by a height measurement.  Other such features are a block fracture at least 7 m (23 ft) high with sharp edges, (vi-a); a cleft or channel separating the 'crown' from similar eastwards features, (vi-b); and smaller crater features upwards of the 'right eye', (vi-c).
        5X Cubic spline scaling (GIMP) of 'King Face' area showing points of interest.Figure 6
  5. Shape from Shading (Photoclinometry) Results.

    1. The page author has developed a plug-in for the GIMP imaging package which generates shape from shading.  Using shape from shading, Figure 6A shows the results viewed from above and to the right.  As can be seen, minimal elevation is apparent.  Compare the MOLA data image, Figure 5 with Figure 6A to see the striking similarity of Figure 6A to the general measurements of MOLA with respect to rendered dips and rises.
      'King Face' rendered with the shapefs.exe GIMP plug-in, at (45°, 45°, 85°) viewer position.  Figure 6A
      Look for new Shape From Shading movie here during the 2008 Holiday Season.
    2. The author has also implemented a GIF Movie (807KB) of the above area at a more horizontal viewing angle, with the first frame in Figure 6B, rotated 360° in 10° increments.  This also shows minimal elevation rendering, highlighting the relative flatness of the area.  For comparison, see the examples at the shapefs download page for what rendered elevation should look like. 
      First frame of linked GIF movie showing 360° Z-Axis rotation with X-Axis = 10° and Y-Axis = 30°.Figure 6B (807KB).
      Look for new Shape From Shading movie here during the 2008 Holiday Season.
    3. Another comparison can be done with Figure 6 and the argument in the Solar Azimuth and Shadow Length section.  Figure 6A vindicates the arguments proposed in that section.  Please pay special attention to the dune features at i in Figure 6, the crater to the lower right of the 'King Face', the 'Crown' ridge line, and the cleft area to the upper left of the 'King Face'.
    4. The curved areas at upper right and lower left of figures 6A and 6B should be disregarded as artifacts of the shape from shading algorithm, due to lack of boundary elevation values.  This is better observed with the GIF movie described above.
  6. The Crown and Similar Nearby Features.

    1. Similar features to both east and west of the 'King Face' reproduce the 'Crown' morphology.  These features, on Figure 7, have the color aqua associated with them.  The 'King Face Crown' appears to sits on a ridge that proceeds in a curved manner from SW to NE.  This feature also appears to follow the valley floor as indicated by the dune field.  Also, see Figure 5.
    2. The dune field, indicated in the color purple, fills in areas of the ridge, as indicated.  This fill material, which is fine at the 5.78 m (19 ft) resolution of the image, also appears to start covering the dune features.  This investigator assumes sand, or similar fine material, as it appears to be wind deposited from the cleft, described in section 4 e) vi), above.  Similar material is apparent under the sun azimuth indicator in Figure 7, and near the sun elevation indicator in Figure 6, west of the 'King Face right jaw'.
      'King Face' area crop showing surface texture similarities.Figure 7
  7. The Local Ambient Wind.

    Area starting at (262,2648) on M0203051.img showing wind direction. Area starting at (0,5150) on M0203051.img showing wind direction.
    Figure 8 Figure 9
    1. Finally, we examine the ambient wind.  Figure 8 shows an area where the wind direction is unambiguous, approximately 34.4 km (21.3 mi) S of the 'King Face'.  Figure 9 shows another such area, approximately 19.9 km (12.4 mi) to the S.
    2. In Figure 8, the ambient wind has left a visible outflow on the crater under the N azimuth arrow (blue).  The interpretation of this signature is of a wind flow predominantly out of the South.  Further, the morphology of the terrain to the NE of this crater is aligned normal to the southerly wind, generally.
    3. Figure 9 shows similar morphology, with the flow indicia out of the crater closely aligned with the N azimuth.  Correlated morphology can be seen to the E of the large crater.
    4. Similar areas of wind correlated morphology are visible throughout most of M0203051,  with such a large extent that size constraints disallow introduction into this paper.  These areas are visible on the image at y coordinates 0-700, 2600-4700, (a plethora of square craters at 4500-4900), and 13000-13400, approximately.
  8. Conclusions:

    1. The 'King Face' has been described as evidence of artificiality on Mars by certain researchers.   To the author's knowledge, this feature on Mars has not been subject to analysis as in this e-paper.
    2. The 'nose' appears to have slid or fallen to its current position.   It must be argued, for the total picture, that in comparison to a 1 pitch (1”/12”, 8.33%, 4.76°) roof, the 'pitch' of this slope appears slight.   Though the computed approximate slope of the ridge this feature sits on is inconclusive, examination of the image holistically enables one to see that the wind has had a significant effect overall on large areas of the image. A possibility exists that the salient features of the 'King Face' have been pushed off the ridge by the prevailing wind.
    3. The 'eyes' appear to be crater features partially filled in by the material coming off of the 'ridge'  that is called by this author “undifferentiated rubble”, due to its actual unknown origin.   The 'lips' appear to be soil fracturing and mass flow as can be seen on many terrestrial hillsides.
    4. The morphology of the 'Crown' and 'facial' area of that the 'King Face' sits on appears to be a natural section of  'ridge' adjacent to a valley or similar ground feature.   As opposed to the Cydonia 'Face' which is a separate feature not surrounded by similar terrain.
    5. Facial recognition appears hardwired in humans. This has been the subject of a multitude of research and publication efforts, both in and out of science.   A short list of available sites on the internet relating to facial recognition with a view towards the above argument:
      The Most Deceitful Thing.
      Philosophy Question 14-77.  (" philosophy_questions_1477.html" redirects, content not present)
    6. The caveat of this research e-paper is that when examining space probe images of extraterrestrial bodies, one should be extremely careful of verifying the data.  Humans are hardwired to see faces.  Therefore, over viewing the points covered here shows that the 'King Face' is a product of fortuitously placed natural features that has the appearance of a face, which human visual processing has a propensity to detect.
  9. Alternate Conclusions and Rebuttals:

    1. As with all such endeavors, there is a difference of opinion as to the interpretation of the feature in question.  Since this author has requested comment, numerous individuals have responded, pro and con, to the conclusions presented here.  Certain selected commentary is presented thusly:
    2. Peter Ness, MBA, MFin, MSc (Ba App Sc Ap Geol.), CDC, presents the following commentary: Links where provided by the author of this e-paper, and not by Mr. Ness.  Therefore this author takes full responsibility for the hyperlink accuracy's.
      1. I annotated the faults on this image of the 'King Face', Figure 10.
        'King Face' area faults annotated by Peter Ness. Figure 10

        Note the second face merges with the first.  If you have the 'Skull Face' image, the same thing happens.  Page author's note: This image is located 70% down on the mapped jpeg and at (471,3704) on the IMG file. Grey scale equalization at minimum is required to bring it out. Two faces share an eye.  One faces outwards and the other looks at an angle across the first.  It is quite clever, because if you look from one direction one face should be seen and from another the second.  In addition, in both cases, some people will only see one face - and will argue that the other does not exist - but the face they see will depend on whether the person is left or right brained or how their brain translates the images.

      2. The following things are rather interesting in relation to the 'King Face':
        1. The faults coincide with and have displaced the arch down to the right.
        2. The right eye of the 'King Face' has dropped down.  So has the right eye of the right face.  The nose of the second face has been cut by a small fault.  Move them back and the images are improved.  This is un-nerving from a geological perspective.
        3. The chin and left side of the 'King Face' is a normal fault. The fault defines the shape of the face.  The block that includes the entire 'King Face' has dropped down, partly obscuring the left side face, and gouging it out.  Interestingly the nose of the 'King Face' may coincide with a vertical joint - there is no apparent vertical movement so is not a fault (a least at this scale).  Also the base of the mouths or chins of the main 'King Face' and the one on its right faces have horizontal tear fracture slippage planes so there is some mass wasting due to gravity sliding (unless the faults are still active, which I doubt??).
        4. Some people see a third face truncated by the 'King Face'. The large fault gouge on the left of the image (area is annotated - the smooth surface) shows that this smaller face has been dislodged to the right - so if it really is a face - the right eye and side of this face is caught up in the fault gouge of the 'King Face'.
        5. All the faults show rotational movement down to the right, except the 'King Face' which has just dropped down.  If the reader looks at the faults below the arch shape, they can see the rotation of the faults.  This shows the faults are slump structures related to normal faulting and the faulting occurred after the supposed creation of 'King Face'. This dates the 'King Face' and proves that the face is very old indeed- so was formed before human civilization developed - so how the faces cannot be human only humanoid in appearance.
        6. In each case when one moves the geology back to where it should be each of the faces is enhanced - now to even the skeptic of skeptics that is rather unusual (or unfortunate).
        7. The arch structure has three sides with an equithickness unit of rock, which is a little hard to explain.  This is probably a coincidence of faulting, but it does not look natural.
        8. Above the 'King Face' there are some old 'spiders' which formed in joints and fractures prior to the faulting.  This dates the rocks at the top of the cliff and may imply that the eyes of the faces could have formed by degassing or from fluid expulsion at intersections of joints and parallel bedding in the cliff.  Joints form at regular intervals so the vents would be paired.  This is one feature of 'spiders'.  We often see face like pixilation in spider platforms.  However, we have not seen 'spiders' forming in vertical cliffs, only in caverns from old vents.  The problem may also be that of coincidence of rock type - a particular rock type may be more likely to adopt a certain erosional or weathering pattern. Thus, we may be more likely to see faces in a certain rock type because of this.  Moreover, this is precisely the argument that most geologists will use to counter the argument of statistics (the other problem with statistics is the type 2 error - concluding something statistically based on an incorrect premise).
      3. I did not point out all the faults either - particularly to the right side of the 'King Face'.  In fact, there are other face like features along the ridge further to the right of the 'King Face' and numerous small faults and joint.  There are at least a dozen or more in the image and most are quite easy to spot.  The very top left corner of the image is another large fault block (the reader can see the fault plane in the top of the cliff) - again the block slid to the right and down the hill with a large amount of displacement.
      4. I would not find it odd if non-geologists were unable to pick the faults, but it would be extremely unusual if geologists are unable to pick the majority of the faults as they are extremely obvious.
      5. On earth, the 'King Face' area would be a highly frequented type geology section, not because of the faces but because the fault relationships would make it an invaluable place for training geologists in normal fault movement principles.  All these things may be tricks of the light due to geological faults, a few 'spiders' or degassing vents in the cliff, and some weathering but there are so many coincidences in the 'King Face' image that it is rather unusual and very interesting to say the least (and I am a skeptic).
      6. None of this proves conclusively that the face is natural or artificial - but is does say one thing - the age is very old.  The face predated the faulting because the eye has dropped due to the faulting. And the face is located in a fault zone.  Therefore - it is not human and cannot possibly be human unless someone on earth creates a wormhole that accidentally puts humans back in time and space on Mars - to the very time when there was free flowing water in the river below.
      7. The Skull Face.  The bottom face in the 'Skull Face' image - in this case the nose of the bottom face has slid down the hill and again reversing the geological slump movement coincidentally puts the nose back in the right location and the right shape - again this should substantially improve the resolution of the image making the face look more real (or more artificial).  The other problem is that the 'Skull Face' image has a number of large images in a confined area and each looks artificial.   Interestingly the people who say the 'Skull Face' is artificial only pointed out one of the faces. The probability of more than one good quality hoax in the same image is certainly very low.
      8. Argument against statistics and probability - As with the 'King Face', the rock types related to the 'Skull Face' will tend to weather in the same way in local areas.  The proof is rather simple - geologists look for ore deposits based on geologic relationships.  Gold mines are strung out along faults and occur at fault jogs or intersections.  Iron ore mines are typically associated with folding and faulting - so geologists use this to find the mine.  Every mineral deposit on earth follows the geologic relations - and it is a perfect statistical relationship.  Therefore, two faces in the 'Skull Face' area (I am told there are three or four faces) can occur due to geology and this impacts dramatically on statistics.
      9. The rocks in both images are different but the age seems to roughly correlate.  In addition, both are in areas that may have had freely flowing water and an era of thicker atmosphere at the time the images were created - which may or may not be purely coincidental. is a rather interesting relationship to say the least.
      10. The 'King Face' and the 'Skull Face' both seem much older than the Egyptian woman with the hat.  This particular image is extremely easy to explain by geology because the black spots are all fans and the lips etc., can be explained as outwash fans.
      11. The biggest problem with the Egyptian woman (Nefertiti {approximately ½ down the mapped jpeg, (292,4048) on the IMQ}) is that the age does not match that of the other features.  It is probably only a few tens of thousands of years old at most (perhaps only several centuries at most), because it is composed of features related to 'spiders' so has degassing features and etching due to CO2 and water.  The features in 'Nefertiti' are identical to those we see in Southern Polar regions related to 'spider' formation.  For instance, the black markings like dots or small lines are black fans.  None has faded and the directional trends have not been blown away or obscured by wind movement.  In addition, the layering in the hat can be explained as due to the layering of the bedding.  There are outflow and outwash features due to water below bursting and flooding which some will say has have helped shape the object.
      12. The ages of the 'Skull' and 'King Face' probably match.  There is evidence for free water flow in the rivers and creeks nearby both.  The canyon of the 'King Face' still had water after the 'King Face' was complete because the gravels cover the base of the neck (assuming there was a neck).  All three faces have evidence of past 'spider' activity - which leads one to the conclusion that the geologic relationships are just as strong for a natural cause as the evidence to the contrary.
      13. People can and will argue either side because beliefs and educational background tend to cloud judgment - dramatically.
      14. All three features probably have a natural cause, but together they are rather compelling.  I did not discuss the 'Pyramid Face' of Mars because that is even easier to explain away by geology.  Yes, compelling imagery but like the 'Nefertiti' face the geology is easy to explain (and probably similar age).
      15. I am not sure if the reader has seen this Malin data of the face of Mars; the commentary gives no real strong opinion, but Michael Malin's opinion is attached.
    3. Greg Orme, fellow Mars anomaly researcher rebuts the conclusions of this e-paper as follows:
      1. The crown is indeed a ridge but it is cut on both sides to form the crown.  This indicates someone may well have used that natural feature and altered it to fit.  To complain it is a continuation of the cliff is as silly as saying that it can't be a face because it is a continuation of the ground.  There appear to be two faces connected to each other, both using one of the eyes.  From that point of view then it could not have the right jaw section as it wouldn't work with two faces.  Most people see the second face, Hoagland saw it, Art Bell saw it, both without knowing about it before.  The chances of two well defined faces next to each other is very slight.  Also there are many other faces on the cliff each of which is probably good enough to rate a mention if found elsewhere.
      2. The whole idea of a rock falling down to make the nose is absurd.  It isn't big enough to match any place where it supposedly fell off the cliff, it must only be about 20 pixels in size at the most.  The idea that someone can match up 20 pixels definitively on part of a rubbled cliff is simply impossible.  Anyway it's a circular argument.  To say a rock fell off the cliff to where the nose is doesn't explain anything, you might as well say a rock eroded into the right shape where it is.  Either it looks like a nose or it doesn't, and whether someone carved it or moved a rock into place is another matter.  There's not the slightest bit of evidence from the photo to support a falling rock, it's just shifting the burden of proof.
      3. Also the eyes look nothing like craters to me, and the crater pointed out as a comparison is only a few dull pixels in size and doesn't look like anything more than rubble to me.  The eyes aren't the right shape for a crater.
      4. The shadow information is all wrong too, there are plenty of dunes pointing in the same direction as the jaw line and they cast shadows the same way.
      5. It all amounts to circular reasoning.  Some people think it's natural because they do, the reasons presented don't add up to anything at all.  On the other hand, no one, least of all knows whether it is artificial or not.  Both sides have a responsibility to check their facts a lot more carefully than this.
      6. The lips come up clear enough in the shape from shading did to satisfy me.  The extension of the shape is consistent with weathering and collapse.  In fact, all the weathering on the face if you reversed its direction tends towards a more face like shape not less.
      7. While it might not be interesting to you the King Face is the most publicized feature on Mars next to Cydonia.  When it was shown at the press conference it created a worldwide sensation being on TV in the US, Canada, and England.  It was written up in the New York Post and was featured on Good Morning America.  FOX News did a half hour special mainly on the King Face.
      8. While this doesn't prove much in itself it does indicate that hundreds of millions of people around the world thought it looked enough like a face to get all that publicity.  So as far as I'm concerned the court of public opinion thinks it looks a lot like a face, the arguments I've heard against it are pretty dubious, and one day we'll find out if it is a face or not.

Petaled 'Crater' in Mars Terra Sirenum

Petaled 'Crater' in Mars Terra Sirenum Al.Reaud Tue, 05/31/2011 - 13:43

NOTE: Updated 10/11/2016, links verified.

Analysis of Mars Odyssey (THEMIS) data release image number: V01354003.  All source images used are courtesy of NASA/JPL/Arizona State University(ASU).

Following the THEMIS data release for V01354003, this investigator will attempt to show that the petaled 'crater' at (483, 2964) in the Apparent Brightness Record (ABR) image is a feature that is not meteoric in origin, but is instead a geyser or similar feature of tectonic nature.

Table of Contents:

  1. Image Sources.
  2. GIMP Cubic Spline Interpolation Verification for Feature Scaling.
  3. The 'Petaled Crater'.
  4. Shape from Shading (Photoclinometry).
  5. Comparison to Splatter Crater.
  6. Comparison to Other Features.
  7. Adjacent Mars Orbiter Camera(MOC) Images.
  8. Apparently Square Crater and 'Underground Structures.
  9. Conclusion.

Image Sources:

First seen as Daily Release 20021002 on the Mars Odyssey Themis website for October 2, 2002.  This is a visual image only, at a resolution of approximately 18 meters/pixel, with no corresponding MOC image (see Adjacent Mars Orbiter Camera(MOC) Images, below).  The size of the feature of interest is relatively small, with a linear span of approximately 30 pixels, or 570 m (1870 ft).  The approximate area of the petaled 'crater' feature is 810 pixels, or 262,000 m² (861,000 ft²).

Unretouched crop of feature at (483, 2964) on V01354003ABR.IMG and surrounding area. Processed crop of feature at (483, 2964) on V01354003EDR.QUB from a NASAView GIF including surrounding area.
Figure 1. Figure 2.

Figure 1 is an un-retouched crop of the feature at (483, 2964) in V01354003ABR.IMG (3.76MB), and surrounding area, using GIMP coordinates, after conversion via NASAView to GIF format.  The top left corner of the image as displayed in GIMP is coordinate (0,0).  Figure 2 is taken from V01354003EDR.QUB (3.76MB) also converted with NASAView to a GIF format file, then further processed with the GIMP Image --> Colors --> Adaptive Contrast tool, using a value of 25 for the iterations, and a value of 35 for the detail size.

GIMP Cubic Spline Interpolation Verification for Feature Scaling:

Due to the reduced size of the image, a short movie showing the scaling process is included to verify that the GIMP cubic spline scaling algorithm is not introducing significant distortion into the image.   Due to the large size of the movie, it will not be included in the page.  See 1x to 10x Verification Movie (1438KB). The methodology here is to start of with an original pixel size image, which is 52 x 80 pixels, and progressively increase the scaling factor so that a 10x scaling occurs, in sequential increments.  The 1x scaling has a 1 second delay, and the 10x scaling has a 2 second delay, otherwise the delays are 0.5 seconds between frames. As can be seen from the GIF movie, feature rendition is accurate during scaling.

The 'Petaled Crater':

The parameters for the Sun Azimuth, North Azimuth, and Incidence Angle where taken from the IMG label as generated by NASAView.  The values are SUB_SOLAR_AZIMUTH = 208.964°, NORTH_AZIMUTH = 266.308°, and INCIDENCE_ANGLE = 57.758°.  Figure 3, following, is a 10x scaling done with GIMP using cubic spline interpolation.  It must be remembered that this is a relatively extreme scaling (10x), and therefore all noted features are at the extreme of resolution. There is no guarantee that the scaling has not introduced spurious details in the features.
10x cubic spline scaling of petaled 'crater' at (483, 2964) of THEMIS Image V01354003.Figure 3.
Starting with the left side of the petaled 'crater', we proceed alphabetically down the list of feature elements:

  1. The west most side of the crater should be in shadow, but is not, as shown by comparison with Crater 1 to the north of the main feature.  It is possible that if our main feature is a putative crater, then the inner wall slopes at less than a 32.242° angle from the horizontal.  However, this investigator does not believe so due to the signature of other details on that side of the 'crater', specifically the bright areas at the west through northerly directions (as indicated by the highlighting at (a)).  Shadows of up to 5 pixels in horizontal extent do indicate that on this side of the 'crater' there is a partial depression, or that the 'crater' lips rise above the central area by up to 54 m (176 ft).  Crater wall collapse presents certain shadowing dilemmas which are contrary to a crater depression presumption.
  2. The southeast side of the 'crater' wall shows indications of shadows on the outer rim. However, this area should be in light on the inside areas of the wall, as can be also seen via comparison to Crater 1.  This is opposite to what would occur if the feature were a 'crater'.  The possibility exists that this 'crater' has a raised lip, however, the raised lip must have a sharp outer edge, and this edge is not visible on the western side in (a).  This is visual ambiguity here, however, as the 'crater' appears to have lighted areas on the walls in a 360° sense. Regardless, photoclinometry shows that the feature here has shadow lengths of from four to six pixels, 43 m (141 ft) to 64 m (211 ft) high, with one section having a feature that has a shadow length that is eight pixels long, 86 m (281 ft) high.
  3. The southwest side of the 'crater' appears to have a downward going wash or slope feature that goes to the southwest.  The direction assumption results from the normal widening of talus or debris fields going from an upper source to a lower termination.  The widening gradient goes from inside to the outside of the 'crater'.  There also appears to be an outer circumference ring of material at this point, which indicates where the flat surface of the area outside of the main feature begins.  Details in this area indicate heights of up 21 m (70 ft), but averaging 11 m (35 ft) or less.
  4. Feature (d) appears to be a raised projection in the 'crater' central area.  The projecting discoloration (discussed in e.) that appears to focus on this feature is not a shadow, as it does not follow the projection of the sub-solar azimuth.  There is no significant shadow associated with this image, making its height less than 11 m (35 ft).
  5. The discolorations, which focus on the feature (d), appear to flow away from the feature and continue to the southeast.  There is an appearance of flow at the inner concentric ring, which would be the floor of the 'crater', to the south of feature (d).  The flow branches off into two separate 'runnels' which proceed in semi-radial fashion towards the outer circumference of the 'crater'.

Shape from Shading (Photoclinometry):

The author has developed a shape from shading plug-in for the GIMP 1.2.4 imaging application.  Using the shapefs plugin, the following 3D images where generated.  The source for the 3D renderings is Figure 3, above.

Note: Image needs regeneration, Figure 3A.

Note: Image needs regeneration, Figure 3B.

Frame 1 of GIF shapefs GIMP plug-in movie of feature on V01354003, rotating 360° on Z-Axis. Figure 3C (974KB).

As can be seen for the above three images (Figures 3A, 3B, and 3C), all three show height succinctly.  These 3D renderings support the arguments stated in the previous section with respect to a feature that actually rises above the surface, as opposed to the Crater 1 in Figure 3.  Figure 3C, just prev, links to a GIF movie (974KB) of the above feature, rotating 360° on the Z-Axis, with X-Axis angle = 25°, and Y-Axis angle = 50°.

Comparison to Splatter Crater:

For comparison, a splatter crater was located at (564, 2140) in V01354003ABR.IMG (3.76MB) at a distance of 827 pixels, 14.9 km (9.3 mi) to the north-northeast (5.69°) of the main feature.  Figure 4 has been processed from the original using the GIMP Image --> Colors --> Levels function to spread out the histogram and to lighten up the overall image.  Figure 5 is a 4x GIMP cubic spline interpolation of the feature in Figure 4.

Splatter crater at (564, 2140) in V01354003.IMG. 4x zoom of splatter crater at (564, 2140) in V01354003.IMG, showing sun and north azimuths.
Figure 4 Figure 5

Figure 5 shows a crater with a surrounding splatter signature.  As opposed to the main feature, Figure 1 and Figure 3, this crater example, though unusual, shows the classic signatures of a crater.  These signatures include shadowing on the same side as the sun location, lighted sides on the side opposite the sun location, a semicircular inner crater shadow, and lack of significant shadowing on the rim side farthest away from the sun location.  Photoclinometry shows that this is a relatively deep crater, with a rim wall to floor depth of 142 m (467 ft).  The crater wall gives a wall shadow of approximately 1 to 2 pixels, or a height of less than approximately 21 m (70 ft).  The splatters are approximately 261 m (856 ft) long with a standard sample deviation of 190 m (623 ft) and appear to leave the crater in a radial fashion.  The splatter heights are approximately the same as the crater wall height.  There is evidence of collapsing of the east through southeast crater wall.  This feature is visible on I01354002 at GIMP coordinates (178, 1117) on I01354002BTR.IMG.

Comparison to Other Features:

The other comparison feature is at (677, 2753) in V01354003ABR.IMG (3.76MB) at a distance of 288 pixels, 5.18 km (3.22 mi) to the northeast (42.6°) of the main feature.  Figure 6 has not been processed from the original other than conversion to GIF format from PDS IMQ format via NASAView.  Figure 7 is a 4x GIMP cubic spline interpolation of the feature in Figure 6.

Partially collapsed crater at (677, 2753) in V01354003.IMG. 4x zoom of crater at (677, 2753) in V01354003.IMG showing sun and north azimuths..
Figure 6 Figure 7

As can be seen, the shadow in this crater is relatively small in horizontal extent, indicating a shallower crater.  The shadow extent indicates a wall height of from 2 pixels to 7 pixels, 21 m (70 ft) to 75 m (246 ft).  It is apparent from close observation of the area under the sun azimuth indicator in Figure 7 that the area appears to have slumped down from the west crater wall in a southeasterly direction.  Crater wall heights appear to be 1 to 2 pixels, or 11 m (35 ft) to 21 m (70 ft).  Floor texturing is very similar to the surrounding area, possibly indicating an older crater that has probably been inundated with blowing debris.  This feature is visible on I01354002 at GIMP coordinates (198, 1213) on I01354002BTR.IMG.

Adjacent Mars Orbiter Camera(MOC) and THEMIS Images

MOC images that appear to be in the same general crater are at the following locations.  The center image coordinates for the feature discussed herein is 44.541°S, 151.122°W, using MOC coordinates.  This is as of the latest MOC Narrow Angle Gallery release at the time (March 11, 2003).

MOC Archive
West Longitude
ab1_m04 M03-06164 44.89° 151.94°
e01_e06 E02-02169 44.71° 150.09°
1345 I01354002 45.583° 151.319°
2259 I02259016 44.631° 152.409°
1691 I01691003 46.642° 150.883°
1691 V01691004 44.402° 150.455°

Apparently Square Crater and 'Underground' Structures:

Crater 2 in Figure 3 shows a crater that is plainly square.  This is an example of where even as robust a scaling algorithm as GIMP's cubic spline interpolation fails where the original data is insufficient to allow for the required magnification.  Figures 1 and 2 show the unmagnified size of Crater 2.  This feature is approximately 25 pixels in area (5 x 5), and will not magnify correctly regardless of the scaling algorithm  used.  Figure 8 shows four examples of the different scaling algorithms in GIMP.  GIMP Zoom appears to be the same as GIMP Nearest Neighbor scaling.   Figure 9 gives similar examples for Adobe Photoshop.  Photoshop Zoom also appears to be the same as Photoshop Nearest Neighbor scaling.  The results of the scaling is very similar between GIMP and Photoshop, with slight textural differences between the two in cubic and linear modes.

Four GIMP scaling algorithim examples. Four Adobe Photoshop 7.0 scaling algorithim examples.
Figure 8 Figure 9

Similar effects result in the rectangular patterns visible in Figure 3 surrounding the main feature.  These rectangular patterns are NOT underground, surface, or artificial structures of any kind.  These are plainly features caused by processing of the image via a scaling algorithm.  In an attempt to perform beyond the resolution of the image itself, the scaling algorithms fill in with what would be mathematically correct for a certain pixel curve.  Mathematical correctness, however, does not imply physicality, and many independent investigators have fallen into this trap with Mars imagery.


The petaled 'crater' in Mars Terra Sirenum shows evidence that it may actually not be a meteor crater.  Feature comparison with surrounding craters indicates that this 'crater' is strikingly different from any others in the area.  Shadow signatures do not match that of conic al section craters, being on the wrong side of the feature. One sector of the rim of the 'crater' shows a wash or slope that is consistent with a fall from the center outwards, instead of a fall from the rim inwards.  There are similarities with a nearby splatter crater, but there are significant differences between the two.

Due to the shadow signature of the petaled 'crater', its internal features, and it's rim structure, this 'crater' appears to be a raised feature instead of a depressed feature as a crater normally is. In the opinion of this investigator, morphological discrepancies with classic craters indicate similarities to certain features seen in the southern hemisphere of Mars, which appear to be fluid geysers, giving a concentric outer raised ring, and an interior plateau with a central orifice. Future revisions of this page will attempt to relocate the MOC image numbers for those other features so that morphological comparison may occur

These presumptive conclusions are refutable with MOC imagery of the 1.5 m caliber.