MOLA Data Tracks Confirm
NASA's Deliberate Misrepresentation
of New Face Image

As part of our on-going efforts to force a more open, honest and responsible position from NASA regarding the possibility that certain objects on Mars may be artificial, we have been engaged in a nearly two decades long battle to get the agency to freely provide data to the public at large. NASA's response has been to engage in series of careful political maneuvers designed to restrict or delay the public's access to data that we have paid for. One such maneuver was conducted recently over the publication of the first high-resolution image of the Face on Mars.

As we showed in recent articles (see How to Make a Mountain Out of a MOL(A) Hill -- 7/01), NASA has attempted to pass off an MGS image as MOLA generated, and to pretend that the MOLA data is more accurate than the 1.5 meter per pixel resolution MGS camera. Based on this false claim, NASA officially declared that the Face had "no eyes, no nose, and no mouth!" in a highly visible web article prepared during the two months that NASA withheld the new Face image from the public. What our article showed is that NASA's "MOLA generated image" was simply a "de-resed" (altered) MGS image that could not possibly have been generated from actual MOLA data, since at best there had been only one or two opportunities to gather MOLA data from the Face itself. At the time of publication, we could not ultimately "prove" this assertion, since we did not have the actual MOLA data tracks from NASA despite repeated requests for the data.

An independent researcher, Lan Fleming of the VGL organization, has recently published a reconstruction of the MOLA data that he assembled himself from the raw NASA output. It showed -- completely independent of our assessment -- that there had indeed been only one MOLA pass over the Face .

However, we have for months now been in possession of the actual MOLA data tracks as posted by NASA. They were found by chance on a rather obscure site, and we are left to wonder why NASA ignored FACETS repeated requests for this data when all they had to do was simply point us to this web site.

Maybe -- they weren't anxious to help us expose their dishonesty?

In any event, the data tracks prove that our previous assertions were correct -- there is only one MOLA data track across the Face up to the acquisition of MOC image E03-00824 in April, 2001. And given the extremely coarse resolution of the instrument, its data is useless for making determinations about fine features such as the "eyeball". Moreover, since even in the very coarse resolution of these official graphs it is now obvious that MOLA tracked well off the center of the Face, it is also easy to see how NASA "concluded" that the Face was only 800 feet high, as opposed to its previously measured 1500 feet. Of course, having possession of these tracks, NASA's Jim Garvin certainly knew that the 800-foot height constraint was incorrect when he had the "MOLA" image commissioned, and that this would directly lead to a distorted, flattened version of the MGS image. But, he published this distorted data anyway. And for good measure, Garvin also had the images flipped upside down and backwards  -- just to make sure nobody mistook it for a "Face."

The data is also full of other interesting tidbits.

For instance, there are two data tracks over the Cliff (and, given the distance between tracks and orbits, it is a virtual impossibility that such a small object could be hit twice by accident or coincidence) and they show that the Cliff itself is remarkably, unnaturally flat. Clearly, NASA was very interested in testing the notion that this unique landform was artificial, and targeted it. The truth is that "natural" objects do not display such bizarre level flatness, especially when they are seated atop an ejecta blanket from a crater that predated the formation.

The "Cliff" as seen by MGS

Ultimately, none of this matters when the press gives Garvin and NASA a free pass. Fearing that they will be cut out of the information loop, science reporters have stopped pushing NASA for straight answers on any of this. I had several email exchanges with's Leonard David on the subject of MOLA and Garvin, and he promised to ask Garvin why NASA had misrepresented the MOLA data. He never did, and after sending him the MOL(A) article, I have not heard from him. 

The only way we will ever break through this wall of deception is if we hold the press' feet to the fire. If reporters like David really want the Face issue to "go away," then all they have to do is -- their jobs. Let's make the press the issue, and not NASA, for once. We already know NASA isn't going to do their duty and come clean -- this MOLA episode proves that -- but maybe, just maybe, the press will start doing their duty, and simply ask the questions.

So please, send Mr. David an email and ask him to follow up with Jim Garvin, and ask Garvin why he signed on to such a misleading, if not knowingly false, version of the Face.