Date: 98-05-17 12:45:58 EDT
From the Daily Mail on Saturday,
May 9th '98
By Graham Hancock
Many Scientists are convinced there was life on Mars - and some even
believe an advanced civilization existed there. For structures
that resemble ancient Egyptian pyramids and a haunting face that echoes the
sphinx lie close together in one mysterious area.
Were they put there to warn us that the cataclysm that befell Mars might
also happen to Earth ?
Graham Hankock, author of "Fingerprints of the Gods", which became a best
seller, has written a sensational new book analysing the Martian mystery and its implications
for us on Earth. Now in a new series, read why we may be at the most important turning point
in human history.
SCIENTIST Tobias Owen was examining photographs of the Cydonia region of
Mars for possible landing sites for Nasa's Viking mission to the Red Planet
when he muttered: 'Oh my God, look at this!'
Working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, he was
inspecting frame number 35A72, which showed an area of the Martian surface
that was roughly split into two geological zones - an extensive plain,
slightly cratered, with a handful of raised platforms, side by side with a
rocky area of immense blocks of angled stone.
Towards the centre lay what appeared to be a gigantic humanoid face staring
blankly up from the dead planet, a mute sentinel on the barren landscape.
Just hours later on that same day in July 1976, Gary Soffen, a spokesman
for the Viking project, briefed the media on the progress made thus far in
Nasa's self-proclaimed 'Search for Life on Mars'.
Somehow an image of the newly-discovered 'Face' had reached him and he
showed it to the journalists. Isn't it peculiar what tricks of lighting and
shadow can do?' he commented dismissively. '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.'
Inexplicably, Cydonia was abruptly deemed unsafe as a landing area for the
Viking 2 craft, although the chosen region, Utopia, was - by Nasa's own
criteria - equally hazardous.
And just why was the space agency in quite such a hurry to write off the
Face as an illusion?
In a way, Gary Soffen had been perfectly correct to state that the image
vanished within a few hours. However, this did not happen because of tricks
of light and shadow, but because night had fallen.
Could it be that then, and with subsequent missions to Mars, Nasa simply
didn't want to reveal that it had discovered startling evidence for the
existence of an extra-terres-trial civilisation?
Although separated by tens of millions of miles of empty space, Mars and
Earth participate in a mysterious communion.
We know that chunks of rock thrown off the surface of Mars periodically
crash into the Earth. According to calculations by Dr Colin Pillinger, of
the UK Planetary Sciences Research Institute, up to 100 tons of Martian
material land on Earth each year.
One of the Mars meteorites, ALH84001 was found in Antarctica in 1984.
It contains tiny tubular structures which Nasa scientists sensationally
identified in August 1996 as 'possible microscopic fossils of bacteria-like
organisms that may have lived on Mars more than 3.6 billion years ago'.
In October 1996, scientists at Britain's Open University announced that a
second Martian meteorite EETA7901, had also been found to contain the
chemical signatures of life - in this ease, astonishingly, 'organ-isms that
could have existed on Mars as recently as 600,000 years ago'.
It has to be said that this is a subject of controversy among scientists,
with conflicting reports published virtually monthly, some favouring the
notion of microbes on Mars and others disputing it.
What is indisputable, though, is that Mars is the most Earth-like planet in
the solar system. Its axis is tilted at an angle of 24.935 degrees in
relation to the plane of its orbit around the Sun (the Earth's axis is
tilted 23.5 degrees).
It makes a complete rotation around its axis in 24 hours, 39 min-utes and
36 seconds (the Earth's rotational period is 23 hours, 56 min-utes and five
Like the Earth, it is subject to the cyclic axial wobble that astronomers
call precession. Like the Earth, it is not a per-fect sphere but is
battened at the poles and expanded into a slight bulge at the equator. Like
the Earth, it has four seasons, icy polar caps mountains, deserts and
Mars today is dead and dry and extremely cold, with an average tem-perature
of minus 23c. It has no water, only ice. Indeed, water cannot survive on
the surface for more than a few seconds in such a climate.
The very low atmospheric pressure, the uncongenial gases in the atmos-phere
and, above all, the absence of water, make life as we know it impossible on
It has therefore been baffling to discover, since the era of spacecraft
exploration and close-up photogra-phy began, that much of the planet shows
unmistakable evidence of former oceans, lakes and rivers, of plen-tiful
rainfall and of catastrophic floods on a gigantic scale that once gouged
The most intriguing features are large, dry valleys, which have
stream-lined walls, scoured floors and commonly contain tear drop-shaped
islands. These characteristics suggest they are the result of large floods.
Jay Melosh, a research scientist in the geo-sciences department at Arizona
University, and Ann Vickery, an assistant at Arizona's lunar plane-tary
laboratory, have calculated that Mars 'probably had an original atmosphere
with about the same sur-face pressure as Earth today, and a correspondingly
higher surface tem-perature above the melting point of ice'.
Their research suggests that the atmosphere was torn away by repeated
asteroid impacts: 'Because the gravity of Mars is so much weaker than ours,
it is easy for the expanding cloud of vapour from a major impact to blast
an of the atmosphere in its vicinity out into space.'
In a graphic demonstration of warmer, wetter times, one of the Mars
meteorites studied by Nasa did contain a few milligrams of water - the
droplet is kept on display in a sealed glass phial.
Moreover, it has been calculated that frozen 'sub-surface water to a depth
of 200 metres may exist on Mars at present'. There are even hints that at
sufficient depths, close to the planet's inner layers of magma there may be
underground hot springs.
But once, water was abundant. For example, it has been calculated by
geologist Peter Cattermole, of Sheffield University's Earth Science
Department, that a sudden cata-strophic flood equivalent to 'a global ocean
more than 50 metres deep' tore out a system of flood channels up to 25 km
wide and more than 2,000 km long.
Layered deposits of stratified sedi-mentary material of the kind laid down
by the largest terrestrial lakes have been identified in many differ-ent
locations on Mars.
In some places these deposits are 5 km thick-confirming not only the former
existence on Mars of a dense and warm atmosphere, but also that the
planet's water must have been present for hundreds of millions of years.
It is believed that these warm and wet conditions last prevailed billions
of years ago. However, Harold Masursky, of the U.S. Geological Survey, has
shown that there may have been water on Mars 'as recently as a few million
In Britain, Colin Pillinger, profes-sor of planetary science at the Open
University, and his colleagues Monica Grady and Ian Wright at London's
Natural His-tory Museum, have gone further.
Their study of Martian mete-orites demonstrates that water and primitive
life could have existed on the Red Planet just 600,000 years ago.
Other researchers are prepared to consider a time-frame that is even more
recent, with a great cataclysm striking Mars and stripping it of its
atmosphere and water less than 17,000 years ago.
Specialists increasingly accept that, as well as extensive lakes 'deltas
and seas may once have existed on Mars'.
David Scott, of the U.S. Geological Survey, believes that the so--called
Elysium basin was once fined with water to a depth of 1,500 metres.
Likewise, Vie Baker and scientists at the University of Arizona suggest
that a great ocean once covered much of Mars's Northern Hemisphere, and
support their theory with evidence of ancient shorelines in the low-lying
Such features have been identi-fied at latitude 41 degrees north longitude
nine degrees west, close to the controversial Face of Mars - and other
intriguing landmarks -in the Cydonia region.
WHEN, in 1976, Nasa dismissed the Face as nothing more than an illusion of
light and shadow, scientists en masse lost interest in it and for the next
three years the image lay buried in the agency's deep-space archive centre
at Gadded Space Flight Centre Greenbelt, Maryland.
The Face was rediscovered in 1979 by Vincent DiPietro, a Lockheed computer
scientist on con-tract at the Goddard centre. Work-ing with his colleague
Gregory Molenaar, he developed a process of image-enhancement to create
more detailed images of the Face.
On their own initiative, the two researchers also combed the archives and
found another Viking frame in which the Face - although photographed from a
different angle - was clearly visible.
In this frame a second enigmatic structure can also just be made out - a
mysterious five-sided pyramid (which was subsequently named the D&M
Pyramid, after DiPietro and Molenaar) within 15 km of the Face.
But the impact of these discoveries was lost on Nasa, DiPietro's and
Molenaar's employer. Here were two scientists, holding immaculate
qualifications, who were effectively claiming that they had found evidence
of intelligent design on another world. Yet no one would listen to them.
In 1981, they gave up trying to push the matter through official channels
and paid to publish a book about their discoveries. At this point, a
science writer called Richard Hoagland became involved.
By Coincidence he had been among the journalists to whom Gary Soffen had
first explained away the Face. As well as stirring up a storm of publicity,
Hoagland made a number of pioneering discoveries among the Viking
photographs. These included what he termed the City and the Fort.
In 1985, the independent researchers were joined by a computer programmer,
a specialist in imaging techniques named Mark Carlotto. He worked on the
origi-nal Viking images, enhancing them and, finally, concluding that the
Face is a three - dimensional object.
He identified what looked like decorative crossing lines above the eyes,
suggestive of a crown, or dia-dem, teeth, and even a striped head-dress
rather like those worn by ancient Egyptian pharaohs.
The Face is not alone or the plains of Cydonia but is sur-rounded by other
anomalous structures which some believe will ultimately prove to be of
Richard Hoagland has even suggested: 'What better way to call attention to
a specific place on Mars as a site for further explo-ration than by using a
He traced a line from the Face to the centre of four small regular mounds
in the pattern of a cross, housing a fainter central mound seemingly at the
centre of a group of ten geometrical pyramidal forms. He christened these
fea-tures the City.
The gathering measured some-thing like 4 km by 8 km - a strik-ingly
rectangular pattern created by numerous features at right angles to each
Hoagland termed the eastern-most Structure the Fort. It is a straight-edged
feature that seems to consist of two huge walls enclosing a regular inner
space. His next find was the So-called Cliff - 23 km east of the Face -
which might be a gigantic wan.
Using computers, Hoagland discovered that a viewer positioned at the City's
centre would have seen the sun rising out of the Face's mouth at dawn on
the summer Solstice 330,000 years ago.
What are the chances of such artificial-looking objects occurring naturally
- particularly in such close proximity? Since Nasa's official view is that
all the Structures are 100pc natural, its Scientists have struggled to find
solutions to this problem.
Arden Albee, professor of geology and planetary Science at the Cali-fornia
Institute of Technology says: 'Officially, as of yet, there is no natural
geological explanation for the Cydonia Structures.'
CARL SAGAN, the distinguished American astronomer, broad-caster and writer,
was a dedicated opponent of all those who have suggested that the
'monuments' of Cydonia could be evidence of intelligent extra-terrestrial
Yet, in several of his works of fiction and non-fiction, he argued for the
likely existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.
Contact, released as a feature film after his death in 1997, describes the
first encounter - in the form of a binary code received by radio telescope
- between mankind and an alien civilisation. In reality, this is how most
scientists predict we will ultimately make contact with an alien
But could it be possible that we are so educated to expect commu-nication
via radio telescope that when we get other, more obvious, signals we ignore
Is a humanoid face on Mars so simple that it is passed over without a
For scientist's waiting for a series of regular beeps to surface from an
oceanic roar of background electronic noise, is the Cydonia landscape just
too clear a signal - so clear that it seems ridiculous?
As Carl Sagan was the first to admit: 'Intelligent life on Earth reveals
itself through the geomet-rical regularity of its construc-tions.'
IN 1988, Erol Torun, a cartogra-pher and systems analyst for the U.S.
Defence Mapping Agency, wrote to Richard Hoagland to say he knew of no
natural mechanism that could explain the formation of the D&M Pyramid.
The appearance of the 2.6 km -long object is puzzling. It has been
calculated that it incorporates more than four cubic kilometres of material
and that its apex towers are almost 800 metres above the surface of the
surrounding plains. It is strangely buttressed at the base of each of its
five corners, adding to its architectural majesty.
Its most fascinating feature is to be seen on the southwestern facade
forming the 'base' of the pentagonal Structure-the tip of which points
towards the Face. This shows clearly a regular trian-gular plane that is
very similar to the side of a terrestrial pyramid.
Quite frankly, from this angle, it looks artificial. However, as with the
Face, the evidence from the rest of the Structure is not as clear.
What is not in doubt, however, is that the pyramid does have an
unmistakably pentagonal outline. It was this shape, above all the others at
Cydonia that attracted Torun's attention.
He began his analysis by system-atically researching known geological
processes - involving water, wind, mass wasting (i.e., natural slippage of
material due to rock faults), volcanism and even crystal growth - to see if
any could have formed a five-sided pyramid. He concluded that none could
have been responsible.
Then Torun tested the 'artificiality' of the D&M Pyramid against
Pythago-rean mathematics and found to his astonishment that the object
seems to be a veritable text-book of the numerical forms that were deemed
sacred by the ancients.
It is his claim that the D&M Pyramid is a sort of cipher for the Cydonia
region, revealing a mes-sage of intelligent design reflected in the other
mysterious forma-tions. Cydonia's objects seem to work together, like the
instru-ments in an orchestra, to create a mathematical symphony.
One way of confirming whether this symphony was coincidental - aside from
the vigorous analysis of the Viking frames - was to obtain better images of
Cydonia on future Mars missions. But this was some-thing Nasa seemed
unwilling to consider.
It therefore came as a surprise to many when Nasa finally caved in to
public pressure in April this year and programmed their latest orbiter,
Mars Global Surveyor (whose high-resolution cameras can obtain images four
times better in definition than those of Viking), to re-photograph
Cydo-nia. It seemed that the 'Cydonia question' might be answered once and
Three separate passes were made over Cydonia on April 5, 14 and 23 and,
with amazing accu-racy, the Face was captured in the first image. At first
sight it seemed no more than a flat scar of land- a ridged platform. Many
prema-turely concluded that it had been an illusion after all.
But just hours after Nasa's hasty release of this dis-confirming image to
the world's media, it became clear that all was not as it had seemed. The
new image had been captured through clouds and was woefully
Later computer enhancements by Mark Carlotto revealed that, far from being
less face-like, the new image showed even more detail, ' including
Leading astronomer and former Nasa consultant Dr Tom Van Flanders
concluded: 'The humanoid facial features that first drew attention to this
area are confirmed by this photo, despite poor lighting and poor viewing
'Using the ability to change men-tal perspectives, one can see the object
clearly, without imagining details, as an excellent rendition of a sculpted
'In my considered opinion, there is no longer room for reasonable doubt of
the artificial origin of the race, and I've never concluded "no room for
reasonable doubt" about anything before in my 35-year scientific career
THE Face on Mars and the geometrical structures that seem to have been
arranged so purpose-fully around it could be a message - to modern
The maths behind these objects and their similarity to the Great Pyramids
and the Sphinx of ancient Egypt are difficult to dis-miss. Last, but not
least, some of the Cydonia structures stand immediately beside and even
inside meteorite craters - including an intact pyramid.
Such anomalies suggest to us that the monuments must have been built after,
not before, the cataclysm that laid waste to Mars.
Perhaps this alien Civilisation used Mars as an outpost for exploring the
other planets of our solar system, including Earth. Did they establish a
base on Mars before the cataclysm and then returned to establish the
mysteri-ous structures there as a beacon for modern mankind?
And perhaps this interstellar race also set humanity on the road to
progress and gave us our first spiritual and scientific ideas. And were the
amazing architectural achievements of the first human civilisations a gift
from the stars?
Our hunch, therefore, is that Cydonia is indeed some sort of signal - not a
radio broadcast intended for the entire universe but a specific directional
beacon transmitting a message that is intended exclusively for us.
To receive that message we have to be able to look at Mars closely, which
means high technology. But we also have to have the intelligence and
open-mindedness - the vision and the spiritual humility - to accept that
even a dead planet can speak to us.
In short, humanity has to be able to see Cydonia, to realise what it is and
to act on what it is saying to us.
Who might have devised such a message? And how could they have arranged to
express it in a distinctive architectural/geometrical code that would much
later turn up on Earth in the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx of Giza?
Could it possibly be that the builders of Cydonia also contrived to exert
an influence upon the Early civilisations of Earth? Were they somehow
involved here, per-haps during the darkest midnight of prehistory?
We are entering the realm of a deep and complex mystery here, but I think
the best explanation may be an interstellar race of spacefarers-one of the
tens of millions of such extra-terrestrial civilisations which astronomers
are convinced must exist on planets elsewhere in the universe.
It seems pointless to add wild guesswork to speculation by trying to
imagine what these particular extra-terrestrial voyagers might have looked
like, or where they may have come from.
But if the initial speculation is correct and an extra-terrestrial
civilisation was the common source for the monuments of Mars and the
tradition of pyramid-build-ing on Earth, then we may be able to learn
something from ancient Egyptian scriptures.
These state repeatedly that the gods looked like humans and that they came
to Egypt from the stars with a mission to civilise mankind.
The god Osiris, the legendary founder of the line of the pharaohs, was
specifically associated with the constellation of Orion. His con-sort Isis,
the Mother of Mankind was linked to the star Sirius.
Every pharaoh expected, on his death, to make an after-life journey among
the stars and eventually to be reborn as a star close to the constellation
of Orion. And the entire religious system taught at the pyramids of Egypt
was designed to equip the pharaoh with the astronomical knowledge necessary
for him to fulfil this stellar destiny.
The legends say that the gods cared for mankind and worked for our benefit.
Could this explain why there seems to be a lingering and tanta-lising
memory of Cydonia imprinted upon the design of the Giza complex and why not
only the Sphinx but also the Arab city of Cairo that grew up around it were
called by names originally meaning Mars?
As for the message of Cydonia, here we go on instinct alone, but it could
be a warning that a Mars--like doom lies in wait for the Earth unless we
take steps to avert it-a doom that could spell the end not just of human
civilisation, but of all life on this planet.
That is why the message is addressed exclusively to us - because we are its
bene-ficiaries. That is why it is expressed in a language of archi-tecture,
geometry and symbolism that strikes a chord with humans.
And that is why there is indeed a deep and ancient connection between the
Earth and Mars anchored to certain astronomical monuments that were
designed, from the very beginning, to awaken us at the 11th hour.
The surface of Mars is inscribed with layer upon layer of mysteries. Amid
these layers is written the story of the death of a world. It may not have
been billions of years in the past, and the fate that afflicted Mars may
not have entirely bypassed the Earth.
ADAPTED from The Mars Mystery by Graham Hancock to be published by Michael
Joseph On May 28 at £16.99. To order a copy
Special price of £14.99, call 01525 851945