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The Official Alan Alford Website


By Alan F. Alford
Author of ‘Gods of the New Millennium’, ‘The Phoenix Solution’, ‘When The Gods Came Down’ and ‘The Atlantis Secret’.

Introduction – the Face on Mars

In April 1998, NASA used their Mars Global Surveyor Spacecraft to re-image the infamous ‘Face’ at Cydonia. The result was a series of photographs which made the ‘Face’ resemble a natural mountain. All around the world, orthodox scientists stood shoulder to shoulder to declare that the ‘Face on Mars’ theory was as dead as a dodo. Since 1998, it has become virtually impossible to get academic papers on the Mars Face considered, let alone published, by the scientific community.

One professional astronomer, however, has broken ranks with orthodoxy to assert that the new images actually strengthen, rather than weaken, the case for the Face’s artificiality. American Astronomer Tom Van Flandern, in his June 1998 update, ‘Best Evidence Yet for Planetary Artifacts’, analysed the various features of the ‘Face’ and concluded that:

‘the combined probability of simultaneous chance occurrence of all the features of the Face mesa alone described in this article and predicted a priori by the artificiality hypothesis is 0.0000000000000000000000000000001.’(1)

It was Van Flandern who had previously reported in 1997 that the ‘Face’ was located on the old Martian equator and oriented upright with respect to the former location of the Martian geographic pole.(2) Based on the 1998 data, he went so far as to say that the artificiality hypothesis was ‘highly competitive with any alternative hypothesis’.

How can Van Flandern be so adamant in the Face’s artificiality when orthodox scientists are equally adamant that the photographs show a natural mountain? Part of the explanation lies in a possible deliberate deception by NASA in their release of the 1998 MGS photographs.

In an article published in June 2000, Van Flandern drew attention to the problems with the 1998 MGS photographs, including NASA’s use of highly inappropriate filters to blur the image:

‘That image suffered from four handicaps: a low viewing angle; a low Sun angle from the direction under the “chin”; an almost complete lack of contrast; and enough cloudiness to scatter most of the light and eliminate shadows. To add to these difficult circumstances, JPL-MIPL personnel, apparently judging that the controversy over artificiality would not be ended when the actual photo was released, processed the image through two filters having the effect of flattening and suppressing image details.’(3)

This filtering process was documented at the JPL website. Van Flandern recounted what its effects were:

‘When the first picture arrived at JPL, its Mission Image Processing Laboratory (MIPL) passed the image through two filters, a low-pass filter and a high-pass filter. It is difficult to see how usage of these filters on this image before release to the media could be scientifically justified. Indeed, usage of the high-pass filter gave an especially damaging impression. From Adobe’s Photoshop software, we find the following description of the function and purpose of this filter: “High Pass Filter: Retains edge details... and suppresses the rest of the image... The filter removes low-frequency detail in an image... The filter is useful for extracting line art and large black-and-white areas from scanned images.”... Whatever your opinion about the artificiality of the “Face” may be, and whatever the actual merits of the issue may be, it seems beyond dispute that allowing world opinion to be based on the (JPL filtered) image was scientifically inappropriate. When considering why this happened, we appear to be left with an unhappy choice between dishonesty and incompetence.’(4)

I will make my own comments on the Face on Mars debate at the end of this article, in the context of some new and exciting images of other Martian sites that came to light in early-2001. But first, I would like to address some wider issues involving Mars and its solar system environs.

Mars – A Comatose Planet

It would be an exaggeration to call Mars a ‘dead planet’ or a ‘murdered planet’, but it would be fair to describe Mars as a planet left comatose from a particularly nasty cosmic mugging.

The consensus among modern scientists is that Mars was once a vibrant world, with oceans of water, an atmosphere and a strong magnetic field.

Today, the oceans of water are gone, the atmosphere is gone and the magnetic field is nothing more than a barely detectable pulse.

What happened on Mars to turn it from a paradisiacal garden into a rusty-coloured wasteland?

The scientific consensus is that the Old Mars suffered a devastating bombardment from asteroids or comets. The results of this devastation are plain to see on the surface of the New Mars.

Mars today bears the most dramatically scarred surface of any planet in our solar system. It has the highest volcanic mountains, including the awesome Olympus Mons (27 km above datum level), and the deepest desert canyons, including Valles Marineris (7 km below datum level).

Mars is a planet of two halves – the northern lowlands and the southern highlands.

In the northern hemisphere, the planet’s crust is rarely more than a few kilometres thick and the sparsely cratered surface is suggestive of relatively light impacts.

The southern hemisphere, in contrast, has a strikingly thick crust, which exceeds 20 kilometres in places, and a much more heavily cratered surface. It is in this hemisphere that we find nearly all the major impact basins such as Hellas, Isidis and Argyre.

The Hellas impact crater measures an astonishing 1,600 by 2,000 kilometres and is 5 kilometres deep. The impacting asteroid is thought to have been approximately 100 kilometres in diameter (by way of comparison, the Chicxulub asteroid which finished off the dinosaurs on Earth was only 10 kilometres wide).

The Isidis impact crater measures 1,000 kilometres in diameter and the impacting asteroid is thought to have been approximately 50 kilometres in diameter.

The Argyre impact crater measures 630 kilometres in diameter and the impacting asteroid is thought to have measured 36 kilometres in diameter.

To be hit by any one of these giant asteroids would probably have been fatal. To get hit simultaneously by all three was surely a case of cosmic over-kill.

In addition, we should not forget that the southern hemisphere of Mars was also hit by a volley of smaller impacts.

The northern hemisphere of Mars, in contrast, escaped the cosmic swarm which ravaged the south. It is here in the north, though, that we find the huge volcano Olympus Mons, 700 kilometres in width, flanked to its south-west and south-east by two enormous planetary ‘bulges’ – known as the Elysium Bulge and the Tharsis Bulge respectively.

The Elysium Bulge is an immense upswelling of land which is surmounted by three volcanoes, the largest of which is Elysium Mons.

The Tharsis Bulge is also surmounted by three huge volcanoes: Arsia Mons, Ascraeus Mons and Pavonis Mons, known collectively as the Tharsis Montes.

At the eastern edge of the Tharsis Bulge lies the huge canyon Valles Marineris, 7 kilometres deep and with a width which extends up to 200 kilometres in places as it snakes eastwards for a total distance of 4,500 kilometres.

One team of scientists (Patten and Windsor) have suggested that the Valles Marineris was produced when Mars literally ‘split its seams’ as a result of the energy introduced by the huge impacts in the opposite, southern hemisphere.

Similarly, some scientists have speculated that the enormous Elysium Bulge and Tharsis Bulge were produced as a direct result of the huge impacts in the opposite, southern hemisphere. It as if the asteroids Hellas, Isidis and Argyre punched into the Martian surface with such a force that the shock waves travelled right around the planet and uplifted the Bulges and their super-volcanoes on the opposite side of the planet (compare the relationship between Chicxulub and the Deccan Traps on the Earth).

What Happened to Mars?

It seems to be a failing of many modern scientists that they prefer to bury their heads in detail rather than consider ‘the Big Picture’. But those scientists and amateur astronomers who have studied the Big Picture on Mars have come to some astonishing conclusions.

One of the theories put forward, by Donald W. Patten and Samuel L. Windsor, is that a rogue planet (which they named ‘Astra’) migrated into the ‘Roche Limit’ of Mars and consequently exploded, thus devastating the Martian surface with asteroidal debris.(5) Patten and Windsor surmise that the rogue planet was once a member of our own solar system, having a former orbit between Mars and Jupiter.

The main problem with Patten and Windsor’s theory is that it does not offer a convincing reason why planet Astra should have migrated so suddenly into the path of Mars. Their theory also fails to explain the mystery of the Asteroid Belt which may well be an important part of the greater puzzle (see later). And chronology-wise Patten and Windsor have placed themselves firmly into Biblical and Velikovskian time-frames with their suggestion that the catastrophe occurred only some thousands of years ago.

A different picture emerges from the research of scientists D.S. Allan and J.B. Delair. In their book ‘When the Earth Nearly Died’ (published in USA under the title ‘Cataclysm’), they suggested that the solar system was thrown into chaos by an intruder mass which they named ‘Phaeton’.(6) According to the Allan and Delair scenario, Phaeton (alias Marduk) was a portion of astral matter which was ejected from a nearby supernova explosion. Having entered our solar system, Phaeton tilted the axis of Uranus, caused a planet named Tiamat to explode (thus producing the Asteroid Belt), disturbed the orbits of Mars and Venus, and eventually plunged into the Sun never to be seen again.

Like Patten and Windsor, Allan and Delair were drawn towards a very recent date (c. 9500 BC) for the catastrophes in our solar system. Might there be a deliberate or subconscious need among researchers to link astrogeological data to the events recorded in the Bible and other ancient myths?

The main problem with Allan and Delair’s theory is that it relies heavily on mythological data and rests in particular on a highly dubious interpretation of the ancient Babylonian Epic of Creation (which is ripped off from Zecharia Sitchin – even though Allan and Delair gave Sitchin no mention whatsoever).(7) There is no law requiring ancient myths to be accurate records of events which occurred in the remote depths of our solar system and hence Allan and Delair’s theory must be rejected as pseudo-scientific nonsense. (In any event, the Sitchin interpretation of Enuma Elish is contradicted totally by my own interpretation of that epic: see Enuma Elish.)

Nevertheless, we now have two possible contenders for the celestial mass which might have ravaged the surface of Mars – a rogue planet from our own solar system or a mass ejected from a nearby supernova.

To these two possibilities, we may add a third. The British astrophysicists Victor Clube and Bill Napier have suggested that the solar system intruder might have been a giant interstellar comet.(8)

This Clube and Napier theory was favoured by Graham Hancock et al in their carefully crafted book ‘The Mars Mystery’.(9) Hancock suggested that it was a giant interstellar comet which had entered the ‘Roche Limit’ of Mars and then exploded to devastate the Martian surface and atmosphere.

But Hancock’s theory, based on the work of Clube and Napier, fails to address an even greater mystery of our solar system – the origin of the Asteroid Belt.

The Mystery of the Asteroid Belt

Perhaps the greatest mystery of our solar system is why a huge band of rocky asteroids circulates in the region of 1.6-2.8 AU – a region which stretches from Mars outwards, though not as far as the next planet, Jupiter.

Why does this Asteroid Belt exist?

The standard model of modern astronomy is non-catastrophic and thus informs us that any non-planetary bodies, such as asteroids and comets, must have been left-over ‘building blocks’ from the beginning of the solar system, i.e. material which never finished accumulating into a planet.

The problem is that no-one has yet produced a model which explains why these particular rocks failed to accumulate into a planet, whereas other rocks patently did. Moreover, there is still no convincing astronomical model to explain the origin of the comets.

In recent years, however, the field of astronomy has benefited from a technological revolution and a mass of new scientific data has surprised astronomers in virtually every respect. Consequently, the non-catastrophic paradigm of modern astronomy has come under severe threat.

In 1977–78, telescopic developments enabled astronomers to identify several asteroids with their own orbiting satellites – an astonishing discovery which was at first debunked but has since been confirmed. The importance of this discovery is that it contradicts the mainstream model for the origin of asteroids.

More recent data suggests that Comet Hale-Bopp has an orbiting satellite – a sensational discovery which, if confirmed, will strain severely the mainstream model for the origin of comets.

Furthermore, the study of asteroids and meteorites has revealed numerous telling signs of a cataclysmic origin involving a very sudden and intensive heat blast.

The data itself demands that we now go back to basics with our astronomical models and re-ask the question which was first posed back in 1801 by astronomer Heinrich Olbers: “Are the asteroids the remains of a planet which exploded?”

The Exploded Planet Hypothesis

Nowadays, the principle objection to an exploded planet lies not in any of the data which tend to support the hypothesis of an exploded planet but rather in the lack of any known mechanism which might make a planet explode.

It is for this reason that scientists and amateur astronomers have generally shied away from an exploded planet as the primary cause of the devastation of Mars.

Hence Patten and Windsor circumvented the need for an exploding planet mechanism by supposing that their hypothetical tenth planet ‘Astra’ had exploded only as a result of entering the ‘Roche Limit’ of Mars. Similarly, Hancock et al circumvented the exploded planet hypothesis by suggesting that it was a comet which had entered the ‘Roche Limit’ of Mars and exploded.

What is so noticeable among all these various theories, however, is the superb match between the data from Mars and the exploded planet hypothesis. Moreover, the exploded planet hypothesis would at one fell swoop explain the even greater mystery of the origins of the Asteroid Belt and the comets.

Enter stage right the American astronomer Dr Tom Van Flandern, who is the modern day champion of the exploded planet hypothesis. Van Flandern had this to tell me about the hypothetical explosion mechanism:

‘Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if we have no knowledge of possible mechanisms. For example, no theory for supernova explosions has yet been completed. The existing models all have one or more major gaps that cannot yet be made to work, even in computer models. We must first decide if such events are an observed fact... the research on mechanisms will follow.’(10)

Van Flandern’s published research suggests that exploded planets are indeed observed events just as supernovas are. (See his website for the voluminous evidence.)

Mars as a Moon of the Exploded Planet

The most striking aspect of Tom Van Flandern’s research is his conclusion that Mars – an exceedingly small planet it should be noted – was once a satellite, i.e. a moon, of a larger planet which exploded. Van Flandern’s primary evidence for this theory is the fact that the main asteroid belt begins in the vicinity of Mars (incidentally, he hypothesises a second exploded planet to account for the material in the outer region of the main asteroid belt). Van Flandern refers to this notional ex parent planet of Mars as ‘Planet V’.

Was Mars a moon? Was Mars devastated by the explosion of its parent, Planet V?

In a 1998 article Van Flandern highlighted the fact that the boundary between the thick and thin crust on Mars was ‘close to being a great circle around the planet’, with a strikingly sudden transition between thick and thin crust regions.(11) He then went on to suggest that one hemisphere of Mars (now the southern hemisphere) had been buried in debris from the explosion of its nearby parent, Planet V. Due to the proximity of Mars – as a satellite of Planet V – the opposite hemisphere had escaped any direct hits from the explosive blast.

Van Flandern noted that the exploded planet scenario gave rise to several specific predictions concerning the destruction of the Martian atmosphere and changes to its spin axis and rotation. These predictions, he noted, were fully satisfied by observed data.

Furthermore, Van Flandern observed that if Planet V had had oceans of water (and the evidence suggests that it indeed did) then the explosion of Planet V would have caused a one-off catastrophic flooding of the Martian surface. Once again, this was in total accord with the observed data. (Note: these floodwaters might, in fact, have originated from the explosion of a moon of Planet V, rather than Planet V itself.)

But the most intriguing aspect of Van Flandern’s armoury of evidence is the unusual abundance on Mars of the rare element Xenon-129 (nearly triple the normal amount). Xenon-129 is a second order nuclear fission by-product, and although mainstream astronomers trace this element to an ancient supernova, their theory does not explain why there is seemingly such an abundance of it on Mars in particular.

Might the abundance of Xenon-129 on Mars have been caused by the explosion of its parent, Planet V?

The Face on Mars

I return now to the question of the apparent ‘Face’ at Cydonia. Is it a natural or an artificial construction?

The latter possibility does, of course, imply an extraterrestrial civilisation capable of building ‘the Face’, which might seem a far-fetched idea to many people. But is it really? After all, under Van Flandern’s scenario Mars was once the moon of a parent planet, and it probably had oceans of water and an atmosphere conducive to life (incidentally, Cydonia is thought to have been close to the coast of an ancient ocean on Mars). Moreover, Mars was once part of a planetary system in which either its parent planet (‘Planet V’) or a fellow moon (‘Body C’) was a water-bearing world. Is it really so far-fetched to think that life, and eventually intelligent life, had evolved either upon Mars or in its vicinity, and then been wiped out by the cataclysmic explosions in the Planet V system?

So, to the 64 million dollar question: “Is the Face on Mars artificial?”

Personally I do not feel comfortable with the idea that ‘the Face’ was built from the ground up; it is surely too large for such an endeavour. Rather, my feeling is that the mesa which we call ‘the Face’ was originally a natural mountain which just happened to resemble a face. Such random flukes do happen. Of course, such a mountain would have attracted the attention of an intelligent species who might have gazed up at Mars from its parent planet or its fellow moon. I therefore wonder whether a race of explorers from the Planet V system might have selected Cydonia as a premier landing site as they sought to explore their neighbouring worlds.

Did these visitors decide to enhance the natural mountain at Cydonia to emphasise its facial characteristics?

Although I do not feel comfortable with the idea of someone enhancing the ‘eyes’, ‘nose’ and ‘mouth’ (etc) in the upper parts of the ‘Face’ mesa, I am intrigued by the amazing regularity of the so-called ‘headdress’ surrounding the ‘Face’. To me, the straight lines and 90-degree corners of this headdress are the best ‘common sense’ evidence for the theory of artificiality at Cydonia, for it makes sense that a people might have enhanced a natural mountain at its borders (conversely it stretches credulity to think that someone might have taken heavy earth-moving equipment into the inaccessible highland regions of the mesa).(12)

This scenario is entirely speculative and intuitive on my part and it does rest, of course, on the supposition that an intelligent race evolved in the Planet V system. But it does serve to demonstrate that artificiality at Cydonia is nowhere near as ‘impossible’ as some scientists would have us believe. And it is only by challenging this false dogma that we can take the first steps towards establishing the truth concerning Cydonia or indeed any other anomalous artefacts in our solar system.

Further to this speculation, some new and quite remarkable MGS photographs were publicised in early-2001 providing compelling evidence of (a) vegetation on the surface of Mars; and (b) further artificial-looking structures. These discoveries were the subject of a press conference by Van Flandern in USA on 5th April 2001, and the images can be seen on his website In particular, I would draw attention to the enigmatic tube-like structures which resemble, in Van Flandern’s words, ‘an environmentally protected rapid transit system’.(13)

In summary, both Van Flandern and I are willing to entertain the idea that a human-like extraterrestrial race once lived upon Mars, and perhaps on another body in the original Planet V system, but migrated to Earth after its home world (or worlds) had been destroyed or made uninhabitable millions of years ago by the explosion of Planet V and one of its moons. Such a race might then have survived on the Earth, perhaps by hybridisation with a native terrestrial species, and might have retained a racial memory which generated the myths of the ‘golden age’, the ‘lost paradise’ and ‘the fall of man’.

The investigation continues. Watch this space.


(1) T. Van Flandern, ‘Best Evidence Yet for Planetary Artifacts’, in Meta Research Bulletin 7 (1998), pp. 22-30.
(2) Van Flandern T., ‘New Evidence of Artificiality at Cydonia on Mars’, in MRB 6 (1997), pp. 1-15. See also Van Flandern T., ‘The Case For The Face’, Adventures Unlimited Press, 1998, pp. 148-151. See also Schulz P.H., ‘Polar Wandering on Mars’, in Scientific American 253 (Dec 1985), pp. 94-102.
(3) Van Flandern T., ‘Proof that the Cydonia Face on Mars is Artificial’, in MRB 9:2 (June 2000), pp. 22-27.
(4) Ibid.
(5) Patten D.W. & Windsor S.L., ‘The Scars of Mars’, Pacific Meridien Publishing, Seattle, 1996.
(6) Allan D.S. & Delair J.B. ‘When the Earth Nearly Died’, Gateway Books, UK, 1995 (published in USA as ‘Cataclysm’ by Bear & Co, 1997).
(7) Sitchin Z., ‘The Twelfth Planet’, Avon Books, 1976.
(8) Clube V. & Napier B., ‘The Cosmic Winter’, Basil Blackwell, 1990.
(9) Hancock G. et al, ‘The Mars Mystery’, Michael Joseph, 1998. See pp. 302-3.
(10) Cited in Alford A.F. ‘The Phoenix Solution’, Hodder & Stoughton, 1998, p. 170.
(11) Van Flandern T., ‘The Case For The Face’, Adventures Unlimited Press, 1998, pp. 148-151. See also Van Flandern T., ‘New Finding supports Mars-as-Moon-of-Exploded-Planet Scenario’, in MRB 9:1 (March 2000), pp. 15-16.
(12) My scenario makes it unnecessary to add the ‘speculative’ hypothesis which Van Flandern entertains in MRB 10:2 (June 2001) pp. 19-28.
(13) Van Flandern T., ‘Artificial Structures on Mars’, in MRB 10:1 (March 2001), pp. 1-15.

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