By Alan F. Alford
Author of Gods of the New Millennium, The Phoenix
Solution, When The Gods Came Down and The
Introduction the Face on Mars
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 Faces 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:
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)
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 Faces 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 NASAs
use of highly inappropriate filters to blur the image:
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)
filtering process was documented at the JPL website. Van Flandern
recounted what its effects were:
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 Adobes 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)
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
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
The consensus among modern scientists is that Mars was once a vibrant
world, with oceans of water, an atmosphere and a strong magnetic
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 planets 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
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
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
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).
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
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
The main problem with Patten and Windsors 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 Delairs 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 Delairs 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
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
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 Hancocks 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.
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
In 197778, 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:
it doesnt 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
Flanderns published research suggests that exploded planets
are indeed observed events just as supernovas are. (See his website
the voluminous evidence.)
Mars as a Moon of the Exploded Planet
The most striking aspect of Tom Van Flanderns 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 Flanderns 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,
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 Flanderns 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?
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 Flanderns 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
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
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 http://metaresearch.org.
In particular, I would draw attention to the enigmatic tube-like
structures which resemble, in Van Flanderns 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.
(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
(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)
(13) Van Flandern T., Artificial Structures on Mars,
in MRB 10:1 (March 2001), pp. 1-15.