By now most people are aware of the “face on mars.” The “face” is really a large rock formation that, under certain lighting conditions, kinda-sorta looks like a face. If you ask me, it looks more like the face of an ape than a human, but to some, it’s clear proof of an advanced civilization on Mars, which decided to build a giant face-looking thing. The “face” was first imaged by the Viking orbiters, but has since been photographed at much higher resolution by other mars probes. (It doesn’t look nearly as much like a face in the higher quality images)
Despite those who cling to a belief that this is a sure sign of extra terrestrial intelligence, the face is really just an example of pareidolia – the tendency of the human brain to search for meaningful patterns in otherwise random and meaningless data. While this rock formation may look slightly face-like, the human tendency to look for meaningful patterns, especially things like faces, makes it seem like something which it isn’t. Notice, for example, that it looks most face-like when half of it is in the shadow, allowing the brain to assume that half is symmetrical to the highlighted side.
Mars has had more than its fair share of proclaimed images of intelligent beings or other anomalies. The two NASA mars rovers continue to explore the surface of the planet and send back images, even though they are far past their expected lifetime. Not long ago, an image from one of the two rovers was noted as baring a resemblance to a famous image of “Bigfoot.” In this case, even the wacky mars civilization theorists seemed to realize that it was not significant. The image was clearly a relatively small rock and bigfoot has never been associated with extra terrestrials, so everyone had a good laugh about it.
Now there is a new claim, which apparently is actually being taken seriously by some. It is claimed that recent photos from the Spirit rover show a humanoid skull on the surface of mars, thus indicating that humans or humanoid aliens had visited the planet in years past.
Alien and human skulls found on Mars
NASAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Spirit rover took a number of pictures depicting weird objects on the surface of Mars. Michael Middleton of Australia, a photographer and a UFO spotter, found a skull on one of the pictures taken by Spirit.
The original photograph is located on NASAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s official website on the following URL. Middleton zoomed in the photo and found a skull on the foreground.
Indeed, a piece of rock on the Martian sand bears a striking resemblance to a human skull. It is a round object with eye sockets and a nose pit. The lower jaw is embedded in the sand. It is hard to believe that the natural world of Mars could make such a rock. Middleton said that the Ã¢â‚¬ËœskullÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ stands out against the rest of the landscape that can be seen on the photograph. It is a white object, the color of a bone.
Another object to the right of the while skull looks like someoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s head too, albeit it is not the shape of a human head. The grey rock has a small chin, there is no nose pit, whereas the eye sockets are oblong and disproportionately large. It looks like an alien skull.
According to Middleton, it is boring to think that the discovered rocks are just rocks. Their surface is unusually smooth if compared to other rocks on the photo. It is also impossible to explain how the skull of a human being and of an alien found themselves resting next to each other on the mysterious red planet.
Here is the image provided of the “skull”:
Well, maybe not. The original image from NASA can be found here. It’s a black and white (or to be more acurate, panchromatic) image taken by the Spirit rover at medium resolution. Here’s the full image – click to enlarge to full size.
Can you find the skull in this image? No? Well, it’s in the foreground, toward the bottom of the image and slightly left of the center of the image horizontally.
At full resolution, it looks like this:
Or if blown up it looks like this:
Not very impressive, is it? Especially considering that there’s no sense of scale. It could be a skull, but it doesn’t really look that much like one. However, the image above is blown up using a very simple method that simply expands the image, thus making the pixelation very obvious. When images are blown up in most computer programs, this is not what results. Increasing the resolution of an image on a computer can’t add any additional information, but most image editors use scaling techniques to increase the size of the image without creating jagged edges and pixelation. These techniques may blend neighboring pixels together or smooth out the pixelation, while attempting to preserve hard edges. The subject of image scaling is an entirely separate discussion onto itself, but in general, the goal is to allow increases in the size of the image while maintaining a reasonably smooth look.
Here are some examples of the result from various scaling methods:
Now it’s starting to look more like a skull. Although, no matter how much imagination I try to use, I still can’t see the supposed alien skull that is said to be partially buried near the human one. There are a few problems here, however: in addition to the human bias to look for familiar objects and the fact that there is no sense of scale at all, the images are all enlarged in a manner that can cause a false sense of shape and smoothness. Increasing the size of an image does not add any new data, but the enlargement algorithm tries to compensate by extrapolating the data that it does have. This can result in a distorted image or an image in which shapes appear to be something they are not.
This is nothing more than a case of someone squinting at a lot of NASA images of mars, desperately looking for something that might be significant and finding something which is not.
This entry was posted on Thursday, June 11th, 2009 at 1:39 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Conspiracy Theories, Misc, Paranormal, Space. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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