Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter ... and

"The Lost Cities of Barsoom" ....

(UPDATED -- 4/7/06!)

By Richard C. Hoagland
© 2006 The Enterprise Mission


When I was a kid growing up in Maryland in the 1950's, one day I stumbled across an old book in the library with the distinctive title, "A Princess of Mars." It was written (so the title page revealed) by an author with an equally unusual-sounding name -- "Edgar Rice Burroughs" ... in a year that seemed to a wide-eyed ten-year old almost as ancient as the Pyramids themselves: 1917!

Curious, I flipped through the first few pages ... and was immediately captivated by the lavish illustrations and highly evocative descriptions ... of an exotic, distant land (world?) that (for some strange reason) Burroughs insisted on calling throughout the book (despite the title on the dust jacket ...)--


Miraculously, I was allowed to check this first-edition out on my own (even though it wasn't in the "juvenile" section of the library ... and, in addition, was extremely valuable), and actually take it home. Then, like John Carter -- the hero in Burrough's extraordinary tale -- almost at once, I found myself on Mars--

Amid strange references to "thoats," the "Great Toonoolian Marshes," "Siths" and "the Princess of Helium," Burroughs (and his son -- who did the illustrations) literally painted a stark, haunting image of "a dying desert world," populated by warring factions of alien "Red, White and Green Martians," all fighting over the few remaining reservoirs of water ... surrounded by equally alien (and sometimes dramatically aggressive -- below) fauna and flora of an alien land ....



A world where past glories and untold ancient wonders still lurked -- invisible, but tantalizingly close-by -- "beneath Barsoom's desert sands" ....


* * *


Apparently, I was not the only one to first encounter "thoats" at an impressionable age; Dr. Michael Malin, developer and Principal Investigator for the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC), which has taken almost 200,000 images of Mars aboard NASA's unmanned Mars Surveyor spacecraft, as well as the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) and Color Context Imager (CTX), on-board NASA's latest Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter (MRO), also apparently had a "memorable experience" with Burroughs sometime in his past--

Dr. Malin's "Malin Space Science Systems" official website address is none other than:

MRO's first striking Mars mosaic, taken with another instrument aboard the spacecraft (the "HiRISE" camera) -- released early Friday (March 24, 2006) by NASA and the University of Arizona's "HIRISE Team" -- brought all the mystery and magic of Barsoom rushing back.

For, even casual inspection of the 30.9 mile by 11.7 mile, ultra-high-resolution (~8 feet per pixel!), 190.5 MB TIF version (!) of this spectacular "test" image [centered at 34 S. -- 305 E. (also available through JPL's Planetary PhotoJournal -- below)] revealed, in unparalleled geometric clarity, nothing less than--



Burroughs "Lost Cities of Barsoom!"


* * *


Examination of high-resolution close-ups -- enlarged from this first MRO mosaic (below) -- demonstrate multiple areas (in the original 361-square-mile-image) that exhibit striking, rectilinear, geometries and obvious orthogonal alignments -- providing compelling new evidence of non-geological, artificial ruins (!) lurking just beneath the surface of this desert Martian landscape ... revealed lying in the bottoms of several ancient craters ....



When this stunning "Martian ruin" (below, right) is compared to similar structures here on Earth -- as in this 1936 aerial photograph of a long-abandoned "~eighteen hundred-year-old Sasanian Palace" in Iran (below, left) -- the eerie geometric similarity is instantly apparent.



The MRO HiRISE 20-inch telescope/CCD camera system -- even from an altitude of more than 1500 miles -- clearly has resolved remarkable, intricate, architectural details (below) of this impact-excavated subterranean "Martian complex" ....



Other areas of this detailed MRO mosaic (below) exhibit even more extensive evidence of ancient, still partially-buried architectural remains.



Here (below) is a close-up of the area outlined in white above. The scale (derived from the original, extremely large MRO mosaic) is "586 feet per inch" (~8 feet per pixel). Note the clearly rectangular (and even cubical) features regularly patterning the entire right-hand side.



A further sectional enlargement of this section of the image (below), reveals even more clearly these striking structural details -- some appearing as "ghostly" rectangular outlines, still mantled with their eroding overburden of reddish Martian dirt..

The half-buried "cubical" structures are slowly being uncovered, as those on the right have been revealed, by Martian winds steadily eroding away the remaining massive sediments ... apparently deposited a long time ago by some unknown "massive influx" of material. Whether this debris was airborn (volcanic dust), or water-born (carried in a massive flood) is currently unknown ....



Another terrestrial comparison (below) emphasizes the totally "un-natural" appearance of this Martian geometric network ... and what it actually, strikingly resembles.



Another close-up from the same MRO mosaic (rotated 50 degrees, clockwise -- below) demonstrates that not all "quasi-circular features" on Mars are simple "impact craters."

This remarkably preserved example exhibits organized, interior geometric detail characteristic of a massive, designed building ... surrounded by six, geometrically aligned, surviving elevated "walls" -- minus a possible roof! The massive former structure is attended by an array of additional, still partially-buried rectilinear features just outside.

The scale of the circular building is about 600 feet ... the size of a typical terrestrial football stadium. The surrounding rectilinear features are the size of average city buildings on Earth ....

Sunlight is coming from the right ....



Other examples of solitary, massive buildings with significant portions still identifiable --and, surrounded by arrays of partially-buried, smaller, carefully aligned structures -- can be found elsewhere in this remarkable MRO mosaic (below).



A close-up enlargement (below) of the ruins found in this small canyon (processed by Keith Laney -- with sunlight coming from the upper right) reveals a variety of additional geometric forms ... including, organized features clearly representing surviving portions of more single, massive structures ... some also hundreds of feet across (below).


Laney's processed close-up of one of these objects (below -- rotated clockwise 50 degrees) reveals a series of flat planar facets, sharp 3-D angles and a "glass-like" translucence to its surface and interior ... all in one ~600-foot-wide geometric object ... and all, decidedly "non-geological."

Sunlight is coming from the right in this image.



Just east of the previous close-up lies THIS highly geometric ruin (below), revealed lying almost intact in the bottom of a ~2000-foot-wide collapse feature (NOT an impact crater!), within this ancient canyon wall ....



Noteworthy is the fact that similar-scale, geometrically-spaced objects appear to lie on the ground surface all around this wide depression. Yet, revealed by the collapse, this "complex" at the bottom obviously lies several hundred feet below this surrounding surface ... indicating that, either an entire, single massive structure fell almost undamaged into a "hole" which opened up in the surface (unlikely) ....


This section of our "buried Martian city" also extends downward ... at least several hundred feet!

And the observed "surface depression" is the result of the surface collapse of a former "dome-shaped roof" over the interior architecture -- a ~1000-foot-wide "buried Martian arcology" -- revealing the geometric organization of its former interior "sub-structures" (close-up, below) ....



Not too far away, another magnified close-up (also taken from the original MRO mosaic, and also rotated ~50 degrees, clockwise -- below) reveals another startlingly geometric "complex" of carefully aligned objects, apparent "plaza's" ... contained inside startlingly rectangular "walls" ... and more neatly aligned rectilinear "architecture."

Sunlight is from the right.



As you look at this mosaic in detail, the one-time intelligent organization of all these features is still evident despite the untold millions of years that have ensued since whatever planetary catastrophe occurred obviously destroyed this major Martian "city" ... then, completely buried it!

Zooming in, the highly regular geometry of this central, rectangular "complex" (below) really stands out -- almost as if it was designed as some kind of "double stadium." And, the strange, bright object at the far end -- curiously aligned symmetrically with respect to the "east/west" central axis of entire "complex" -- almost seems as if it were deliberately placed there ... for optimum "viewing."



Here (below), oversampled by 4X, is this same curious-looking object.

It's about 300 feet from top to bottom, and seems to be composed of highly angular sub-features, multiple right angles, and to possess it's own intriguing symmetry ....

Imagine what we'd see if MRO took another mosaic of this region in six months -- once it's positioned in it's final 2-hour, ~180-mile high science orbit -- images almost ten times closer than this one!



Several miles away, "downstream" in another section of the mosaic (below) -- in the sediments forming the flat bottom of the ancient "outflow channel"----



--the ghostly square outline of another "several-hundred-foot-wide structure" -- this one complete with sweeping "butresses" and two geometric lines of standing "walls" (below) -- pokes up through the eroding sands in this 50-degree, clockwise rotation from the larger image above ....

Again, sunlight is coming from the right.



For those with miminal experience in aerial archaeology -- let alone, a background in analyzing ruins on another planet via satellite (!) -- it may be a bit difficult to see some of the more subtle features in these images ... to say nothing of coming to grips with the inherent unbelievability ... after all the NASA propaganda ... of viewing actual ancient ruins on the planet Mars!

What's needed is a solid scientific basis for comparison.

That comparison (another example, below) -- acquired as a set of 1930's aerial photographs over a similar dessicated landscape here on Earth -- presents a standard archaeological example of another partially-buried terrestrial ruin in Iran, for which there is NO SCIENTIFIC DOUBT as to it's "artificiality" ... to be compared directly to what we've found on Mars.

Note the astonishing scientific similarity ....

In terms of recognizing the hallmarks of "intelligence" via such "remote sensing" technology, the rules are simple: look for the geometry ... repeating, rectangular geometry ... and, features arrayed in straight lines (especially those straight line features simultaneously arrayed at right angles to each other ...).

Discovery of such repeating "Euclidian geometry," above a certain scale ... on ANY planet ... is THE major, essentially fool-proof signature--

That intelligence "was there" ....



Or, as the late Carl Sagan noted so succinctly in "Cosmos" many years ago ....

"The first indication of intelligent life on Earth lies in the geometric regularity of its constructions ...."



This is, by no means, an "exhaustive" listing or analysis of the areas -- or the number -- of "anomalous geometric artifacts" present in just this first MRO HiRISE "test" image! For a more comprehensive survey (and, with thumbnails ...) -- carried out independently by another researcher, also a member of the Enterprise Conference Team -- go here:

There -- organized by catagory and location on this 30.9 by 11.7 mile HiRISE 190.5 Megabyte image -- is a far more complete survey of the "wonders" to be found in just this one small region ....

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Is it any "wonder" now that many have begun to question seriously ... exactly "why" and "for whom" ... is this (already astonishing) "reconnaissance of Mars" REALLY being carried out ..!?


* * *


So, where does this leave us?

With Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's first released image mosaic -- centered just northwest of the great "Argyre Impact Basin"--



--straddling an ancient river channel called "Ogygis Rupes" (below) -- we not only have more than ample new confirmation of intelligently-designed artifacts on Mars ... we see these latest examples spread across a very large area on Mars, encompassing at least several hundred square miles (!) -- indicative of another, one-time city-sized complex ... suddeny destroyed by some immense catastrophe ... only to be excavated once again by the inexorable forces of entropy and Time .....



Besides countless earlier examples of equally astonishing "half-buried artificial structures on the Red Planet," captured by every previous NASA unmanned spacecraft -- such as this remarkable find (below, right), imaged by Mars Global Surveyor a few years ago ... of another striking, obviously sand-covered artificial ruin on Mars, located at 28.38° N., 332.54° W., in a region called (appropriately) "Arabia Terra"--



--we also find a more clandestine record of completely independent but strikingly similar Soviet confirmation of "ET Martian ruins."

The prime example of Soviet contributions in this area came with the ill-fated Phobos 2 Mars Mission, in 1989.

Phobos 2 -- before it was mysteriously "lost" (after only 90 days in Mars orbit) -- transmitted striking infrared images (below) of additional, highly geometric, also half-buried Martian features ,,, eerily similar (but in a totally different region -- Hydroates Chaos ...) to our latest "buried Martian city" (northwest of the Argyre Impact Basin).



In 2002, when NASA's Mars Odyssey Mission released its first nighttime IR "test" images -- exactly 13 years (to the day!) after Phobos 2 acquired its own anomalous IR of its "buried Martian city" -- the Odyssey data also revealed an astonishing set of incredibly geometric, half-buried Martian landforms ... in a region "right next door" to the Soviet Phobos 2 images -- in "Hydaspsis Chaos" (2° North/ 29° West -- below).



Although NASA/JPL tried to pass these astonishing, clearly artificial structures off as merely typical "Martian mesas," the undeniable, incredibly redundant geometric nature of the objects (both inside and out -- note the "double, triple, and even quadruple, parallel walls!"), and their obvious, carefully designed architectural layout in relation to each other ... argued compellingly for a totally different scenario ....



A comparison with a partially-buried ruin in Iran (below, left) reveals an astonishing similarity between this Earthly, man-made structure ... with it's periodic "walled fortifications" -- and its vastly larger, but identically "walled" counterparts ... on Mars!



But -- is NASA the only space agency to have acquired solid evidence, from a variety of missions and their instruments, of "buried Martian cities" ...?

In 1999, well after the "collapse" of the old Soviet Union, the lead Russian designer of unmanned spacecraft bound for Mars and Venus (including Phobos 2) -- V.G. Perminov -- in collaboration with NASA Headquarters's own History Office, in Washington D.C. -- had translated a very personal (if all-too-brief) memoir of the Soviet's many attempts to send "his" spacecraft to the Red Planet ... titled:

"The Difficult Road to Mars: A Brief History of Mars Exploration in the Soviet Union."



Provocatively, in his own Introduction to "Difficult Road ..." Perminov makes some eerily "predictive" comments ....


"... The first stage of Mars exploration is finished. Surprisingly, vegetation, canals, and traces of intelligent life have not been found. However, dried-up courses of waterways have been observed. What happened? Why did water disappear? Did primitive or intelligent life exist in the past, or does it exist now on Mars?

"Today, we cannot answer these questions. It now seems like Mars is a lifeless desert. On the other hand, we know that in Earth's deserts, archeologists dig up cities that flourished in the past but were neglected by ancient people, and they are now covered with sand.

"In 1971, the largest dust storm ever registered by astronomers covered the whole Martian surface. For a few months, hundreds of millions of tons of dust were suspended in the Martian atmosphere. As a result, one could not observe the Martian surface. Nevertheless, one cannot rule out that cities covered by sand may exist in the Martian deserts. That would be evidence of an ancient Martian civilization that disappeared or moved to other planets [emphasis added] ...."




Was Perminov merely "speculating" re what he'd hoped to find on Mars ....


Was he, in fact, subtly revealing what the Soviet's had already -- and also secretly -- confirmed ... ?

"The Lost Cities of Barsoom!!"

And then published in, of all places--

An official NASA/Russian monograph -- detailing the star-crossed history of repeated Soviet efforts to reach Mars ... if not the reason why?!

Stay tuned ....





Update -- 4/6/06


The first HiRISE engineering "test color strip" of Mars -- acquired March 24th just prior to the beginning of MRO's next six months of aerobraking into its final "science orbit"-- has now been released by the HiRISE Team at the University of Arizona, JPL and NASA (below).

A full-scale Tiff (uncompressed -- 85 Meg!) version of this same image, for detailed study and enlargement, is also available at NASA's "Planetary Photojournal."



The new image is of a restricted, central section of the original B&W, full engineering MRO mosaic (below) -- the latter released to the media and general public by NASA March 24th.



The new image was created by the acquisition of multi-spectral infrared and blue-green color data, combined with the originally released red filtered mosaic (in B&W -- above) -- detected over the central section of the larger image via three sets of specifically "filtered CCD picture element detectors." When these three separate, overlapping images are recombined through appropiate filters, the result is a full-color "central color strip" -- inset into the larger "red filter" (presented in B&W) mosaic ... (below).



This image is NOT "natural color" (as the human eye would see Mars, looking down from orbit), but is a "false color view" ... shifted towards the infrared. It is designed to detect subtle surface mineral and compostion differences, revealed as different color shadings.

When the final Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Science Orbit is achieved (sometime in September/October), another high-powered instrument on-board -- the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) -- would be able to map the same features (imaged here -- above) in 544 much narrower-spectrum "colors" (!) -- allowing unique mineral identification of the composition of the curiously "colored" patches seen in this false-color HIRISE view.

The spatial resolution of CRISM at that point will be ~18 meters-per-pixel (~60 feet) -- about the size of a small house! -- compared to the ~8-foot-per-pixel resolution of the present color HiRISE image (in its intended final orbit, the pixel resolution of HIRISE will be about "11 inches per pixel").

In terms of specific features on this landscape, what would future CRISM observations reveal about this (by now) familiar cluster of "highly regular, geometric-spaced objects" from the initial MRO mosaic ... exposed at the bottom of an ancient impact crater (below)?



The color version of these enigmatic structures from the color HiRISE image (below), reveals tantalizing hints of what's to come.



Not only is the highly ordered geometry still present (complete with the delicate rectilinear detail seen between the structures, also visible in the B&W version ...), the color of these clearly organized objects is "greenish" ... at distinct variance with the more neutral "grayish," windblown sands seen between the structures and around the crater itself.

Something about these "geometric objects'" composition -- in this false color HIRISE image -- is revealing a "greenish cast" ... which, significantly, is NOT present in the windblown materials in which they're still partially buried!

A CRISM hyperspectral set of observations in the Fall could, in principle, determine exactly what that "greenish stuff" could be -- its composition -- and if, in fact, that composition is consistent with "naturally expected" desert Martian minerals for this region ....

Or, if these objects are indeed made of something more "exotic."

Looking back to the larger color frame (below) -- just to the northeast of this anomalous collection of geometric "stuff" in the crater floor -- there appear to be two curious "greenish triangles" that immediately stand out as also "unusual" in this false color view.

One appears to be a raised feature -- a roughly trianglular-shaped mesa. The other is clearly a shallow depression in the desert ... with another collection of semi-organized features on its floor ....



An even closer view (below) reveals tantalizing hints that we may be seeing more remains of ruins--



For, the green "triangular mesa" contains a perfect right angle "base" on the upper right (northeast) corner, as well as eroded geometry on top that eerily echoes this same rectilinear pattern. This northeast/southwest alignment is also shared by the collection of much smaller objects on the floor of the near-by "green triangular depression."

Most striking, indeed, is the definite green color of both these features ....

The same "green"--

Which revealed itself in the rectilinear collection of apparent structures in the nearby crater floor!

If these are, indeed, artificial remains of ancient buildings and more massive Martian structures, eroding out of the desert sands that had somehow originally buried them a long, long time ago ... were both sets of objects originally made from the same artificial alloy, or material ... which is now being detected as "greenish stuff" in this false color, HIRISE view?

And, could future high-resolution CRISM observations of these same features confirm such a possible scenario ...?

The answer's "Yes!"

Again -- as with the B&W MRO mosaic released earlier -- we have only "scratched the surface" of the details of this extraordinary HIRISE color image. There is more ....

Stay tuned.




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