Initial FACETS letter from Peter Gersten

Peter A. Gersten
 Attorney at Law 
P.O. Box 2443
 Sedona, Arizona 86339

March 16, 2001

Daniel S. Goldin
Office of the Administrator
NASA Headquarters
Washington DC 20546-0001

"NASA is deeply committed in spreading the unique knowledge that flows from its aeronautics and space research" - Daniel S. Goldin

Dear Mr. Goldin:

I represent the Formal Action Committee for Extra-Terrestrial Studies (FACETS), a national group of private citizens and scientists who support the overdue public disclosure of NASA's credible evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence.

FACETS is aware, through over a quarter of a century of continuing NASA discoveries, of the serious scientific possibility that a former technological civilization existed on Mars. NASA's photographic evidence now includes the presence of abundant liquid water, and a rapidly growing collection of enigmatic "archaeological-looking" surface features on literally thousands of frames.

You are aware that in the 70's two Viking probes took pictures of most of the surface of Mars. About a dozen features in an area known as Cydonia, after an independent analysis, were considered artificial by some respected scientists. Events have evolved significantly since those initial Viking-Cydonia images.

Last year, almost 60,000 previously acquired images by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) were finally, publicly released - in addition to nine, inexplicably withheld Cydonia images. Scientists have continued to identify hundreds of additional artificial-looking objects in those images.

The seven additional Cydonia images released earlier this year have only provided further evidence that a technological civilization once existed on Mars and that the artifacts of that civilization are still visibly present.

Former U.S. Naval Observatory astronomer Dr. Tom Van Flandern has publicly stated that in his considered opinion, "there is no longer room for reasonable doubt of the artificial origin of the face mesa, and I've never concluded 'no room for reasonable doubt' about anything before in my thirty-five year scientific career."

Respected author and futurist Sir Arthur C. Clarke recently told astronaut Buzz Aldrin: "I'm fairly convinced that we have discovered life on Mars. There are some incredible photographs from [the Jet Propulsion Laboratory], which to me are pretty convincing proof of the existence of large forms of life on Mars! I don't see any other interpretation."

Due to this considerable amount of accumulating evidence, FACETS now calls upon NASA to help end this twenty-five year mystery.

Though the MGS officially completed its primary mission earlier this year, coincidentally on the same day the latest Cydonia images were released, NASA has approved an extended MGS mission through April 2002. During this time the Mars Orbital Camera, freed from the constraints imposed by its previous global mapping mission, now can be routinely pointed at specific features on Mars.

Thus, the opportunity to conclusively determine whether there was a former technological civilization on the planet Mars still exists. Higher resolution images of these previously identified, inexplicable structures -- and at a different sun angle -- is essential to this determination.

Consistent with my clients' wishes, I hereby request that, within 30 days of the receipt of this letter, NASA and any applicable contractor and sub-contractor:

1) post on the Internet any and all previously obtained, but still unreleased, images of the Cydonia area of Mars;

2) if not already obtained, vertically image the entire structure known as "the face" at high resolution with reasonable high sun lighting, publicly releasing the results immediately; and

3) consent to re-image five additional areas of Mars from a list submitted by FACETS.

FACETS believes that previously released images of the Cydonia region, though not definitive, have produced ample evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence. FACETS is of the opinion that it is NASA's responsibility to continue to explore this possibility until a scientifically valid conclusion can be reached.

As NASA has previously stated in its news release describing the Extended Mission phase: "New surprises can come at any time." FACETS would like to encourage NASA to fulfill this prophecy.

My client and I await your response.

Sincerely,

Peter A. Gersten, Esq.

Distribution: California Institute of Technology Jet Propulsion Laboratory Malin Space Science Systems Sen. John McCain The Washington Post The New York Times The Los Angeles Times CBS NBC ABC CNN FOX


NASA Response From Ed Weiler

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Headquarters Washington, DC 20546-0001

May 11, 2001

Mr. Peter A. Gersten Attorney at Law P.O. Box 2443 Sedona, AZ 86339

Dear Mr. Gersten:

In response to your letter to NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin dated March 16, 2001, from the Formal Action Committee for Extra-Terrestrial Studies FACETS), NASA has fully and openly distributed by means of public web-sites all images obtained of the Cydonia 'face' feature under question. To date, more than 90,000 images of Mars have been acquired by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC), as well as hundreds of millions of laser altimeter topographic measurements and infrared spectra. None of the images acquired to date by the MGS/MOC system have been withheld and indeed, several recently (April 8, 2001) acquired images, including stereoscopic coverage of the Cydonia feature under question, have been released via multiple public web sites. In this case, NASA responded to the request by FACETS (presented in the letter by Peter Gersten to Mr. Goldin on March 16, 2001) by initiating a complex set of MGS spacecraft operations to ensure that the highest possible resolution images of the Cydonia 'face' feature were acquired. These spacecraft operations require special care and only a few can be performed each day. In addition to 1.5 m per pixel (about 5 foot resolution) resolution images of the Cydonia feature, NASA released a stereo 'anaglyph' of the feature that allows a viewer with colored 3D glasses to view the feature in 3D. This is the first release of a 3D image of any features on Mars acquired in this resolution. Furthermore, NASA has assembled public web site access of ALL MGS images acquired of the Cydonia Face feature since the start of MGS scientific observations. Given the challenges of imaging any feature on Mars (ie., NASA has yet to find the second Viking Lander specifically), this has involved considerable effort.

The newly released Cydonia observations reveal an intriguing mesa-like feature not unlike those found in the Southwestern USA, with geologic features than can be attributed to processes in multiple places on Mars in which isolated topographic features (remnants) have been observed. NASA encourages the development of multiple working hypothesis models for the formation of such features and in this case the new observations have been publicly released to permit further debate about controversial and enigmatic landforms on Mars. Dr. Michael Malin, the Principal Investigator of the MGS Mars Orbiter Camera, has provided his experienced interpretation of the new images, but NASA welcomes additional opinions. Indeed, NASA promotes innovative analysis of such spacecraft data by competitive peer-review, as well as via open discussion in public meetings and by all members of the interested-public.

In the letter to Mr. Goldin by the members of FACETS, there are statements that are not consistent with published (and hence peer-reviewed)results from scientific literature. NASA does not know of any statements by Sir Arthur C. Clarke that suggest "... pretty convincing proof of the existence of large forms of like on Mars," nor are there any in the extant, peer-reviewed literature. NASA favors exploring the Universe for evidence of biological processes and aspects of the newly restructured Mars Exploration Program support a variety of approaches for searching for evidence of biological processes on Mars.

NASA has responded to the requests of the FACETS group in exactly the fashion requested in the March 16 letter, by targeting the Cydonia feature under question will [sic] the highest possible resolution, and most optimized illumination, as well as in stereo, to make available observations to the general public in a responsive manner. These data are released and available for interpretation by the FACETS members. They were so recently acquired from the MGS that there may have appeared to have been a delay in their release, but this was not the case. When an image is acquired at Mars it must be relayed to Earth via a specific process and then reconstructed on the ground before it can be posted on a public website. This was accomplished at the end of last week (by April 19), and the data released on that date.

Thus on the basis of the requests made in the March 16 letter addressed to Mr. Goldin by Peter Gersten, the following items have been met or exceeded as follows:

(1) all images of the Cydonia area have been released on the internet (via http://www.msss.com and other public NASA sites via JPL)

(2) stereoscopic, full resolution (1.5 m/pixel) MOC images were acquired at optimized illumination conditions of the Cydonia features and have been released via the internet

(3) NASA awaits a specific list of requests for targeting the five additional areas of Mars from a list submitted by FACETS, but no such list has yet been received.

NASA welcomes a variety of opinions about the origin of the enigmatic features on Mars as observed by the instruments aboard the Mars Global Surveyor. NASA relies upon the peer-review process and competitive peer review to fund analysis of the data it acquires and awaits newly published (or proposals to undertake such) interpretations of the Cydonia face feature. At present the Scientific advisory committees that formally advise NASA have not interpreted the Cydonia feature as evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence. NASA will continue to explore all possibilities for the origin of landscapes on Mars using the open process it has traditionally utilized, as well as by timely release of all images acquired by operational spacecraft, including the MGS.

NASA thanks the members of FACETS for their continuing interest in the Cydonia region and welcomes additional comments.

Sincerely,

Edward J. Weiler Associate Administrator for Space Science

Enclosure

Announcement of Third Cydonia Observation 
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/target/update4-20.html


FACETS Response to NASA Letter

Peter A. Gersten
 Attorney at Law
 P.O. Box 2443
 Sedona, Arizona 86339

May 21, 2001

Dr. Edward J. Weiler
Associate Administrator for Space Science
National Aeronautics and Space Administration Headquarters
Washington DC 20546-0001

Re: Your letter to FACETS dated May 11, 2001

Dear Dr. Weiler:

On behalf of FACETS I want to thank you for your comprehensive and informative response to my letter of March 16 requesting that NASA re-image the Cydonia area of Mars.

Needless to say, my client was delighted that "NASA responded to the requests by FACETS by initiating a complex set of MGS spacecraft operations to ensure the highest possible resolution images of the Cydonia 'face' feature were acquired." FACETS also appreciates that "...the new observations have been publicly released...(on the Internet)."

Thus it was with great anticipation and excitement that the members of FACETS searched for these new revelations, only to be more and more frustrated and disappointed with each passing hour. The new images could not be found on any web site.

On the website of Malin Space Science Systems, Inc. (www.msss.com), there are two references to "...latest pictures from Mars. The first link: "Mars Global Surveyor MOC" (http://www.msss.com/mars_images/),indicates that the most recent images were taken on April 4, 2001. There is no mention of any images from April 8, 2001. The title of the second link: "NEW! M13-M18: 10,230 New Images April 2001" (http://www.msss.com/moc_gallery/) is confusing since the M13-M18 images are from the period March 2000 to August 2000. A thorough search of the MSSS web site by FACETS members has failed to discover the new images or "his (Mr. Malin) experienced interpretation of the new images..."

There is a reference to images from April 9, 2001 on a JPL web site (http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/) but they pertain to MOLA.

Thus my client requests that you provide it with the specific URL(s) where these new images can be found. Your statement that "NASA has fully and openly distributed by means of public web-sites all images obtained of the Cydonia 'face' feature under question" seems somewhat disingenuous in light of our inability to find the new images on the Internet.

My client also assumes, based upon your statements, that a formal FACETS scientific proposal to NASA to study the potential extraterrestrial artifacts on Mars would be favorably reviewed, and will begin work on this project immediately. Further, once my client has found and reviewed the new images, I will forward you a list of five additional areas in Cydonia for new high-resolution re-imaging.

I would also like to suggest a meeting to discuss public policy and scientific questions relating to the continuing search for life on Mars, between representatives of FACETS and NASA Headquarters.

Finally, on behalf of FACETS and other organizations, I look forward to an expanding public participation in the NASA exploration of Mars.

Sincerely,

Peter A. Gersten

Cc: Sen. John McCain