Mars, Face on
In 1977, electrical engineer Vincent DiPietro discovered a
photograph released the previous year by the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration (NASA) of what appeared to
be a stone structure in the shape of a human face on the surface
of Mars. The picture had been taken by the Viking spacecraft.
Working with a colleague, Gregory Molenaar, DiPietro had the
picture computer-enhanced and in 1982 they published a
book, Unusual Martian Surface Features, displaying their results.
Other nearby structures included a pyramid and a grid-like
pattern that some saw as the remnants of a city.
The DiPietroMolenaar book attracted the attention of former
museum curator and journalist Richard Hoagland. A selfeducated
scientist, the widely read Hoagland had placed himself
in the midst of several space-related controversies. In the
early 1980s he added his voice to several speculative scientists
in suggesting the possibility of life on Jupiter’s frozen moon
Europa. In the mid-1980s he emerged as an enthusiastic supporter
of the idea of artificial structures on Mars. In 1987 he
published a book, The Monuments of Mars A City on the Edge of
Forever, which remains the most cogent statement of the argument.
Hoagland’s claims found significant support in 1997 in
The Martian Enigmas A Closer Look, by Mark Carlotto. Carlotto,
a processing engineer, worked with the images and demonstrated
their three-dimensional nature. His work provided evidence
that, whether natural or artificial, the structures were not
a simple simulacra, natural objects that looked like something
recognizably human (e.g., a pane of glass which appears to
have a face in it). Most simulacra disappear when the object is
viewed from a different angle or the lighting direction is
The existence of such structures on Mars, should they prove
to be artificial, would have far-reaching implications concerning
the place of humans in the solar system and the order of
things. There is no place for the construction of such objects in
human history as it is currently constructed. Those who accept
the possibility that the face, the pyramid, and related structures
are artificial, have been integrated into the alternative histories
theories that advocate humanity’s ancient contacts with extraterrestials.
Such alternative histories have been constructed
by researchers like Zecharia Sitchin and Alan F. Alford.
Through the 1990s, scientists at NASA and the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory have held to the position adopted when the
pictures were initially examined in 1976. They are natural objects
that just happen to resemble what some have suggested
they are. They have noted that similar objects, such as naturally
formed pyramids, may be found on Earth. In the meantime,
Hoagland has pressed the case for the Face on Mars and has
appeared a number of times on the popular late-night radio
talkshow hosted by Art Bell.
The controversy continues, primarily on the fringe of the
UFO community, and its ultimate resolution would be possible
only with the landing of scientists on Mars and an immediate
examination of the artifacts. Hoagland organized a team to
study the huge files of photos released by NASA for other possible
intelligently constructed artifacts and on several occasions
has presented the findings to NASA and to Congressional committees.
Those interested in the artifacts, all located in a region
of Mars known as Cydonia, forced NASA to include it in their
1999 fly-by of Mars, but the new pictures were no more conclusive
than were the earlier ones.
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Mars, Face on
Through the 1990s, Hoagland has developed a conspiracytheory
approach to NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
and has suggested that they are withholding vital data that
would support and further explain his belief concerning the
possible ruins on Mars. His ideas may be found at his expansive
Internet site, The Enterprise
Mission, Hoagland’s research project, may be contacted
at P.O. Box 1130, Placitas, NM 87043.
Carlotto, Mark J. The Martian Enigmas A Closer Look. Berkeley,
Calif. North Atlantic Books, 1997.
Gardner, Martin. ‘‘The Great Stone Face.’’ In The New Age
Notes of a Fringe Watcher. Buffalo, N.Y. Prometheus Books,
1988, 72–78.
Hoagland, Richard. The Monuments of Mars A City on the
Edge of Forever. 1987. 4th ed. Frog Ltd., 1996.
Molenaar, Gregory, and Vincent DiPietro. Unusual Martian
Surface Features. Glen Dale, Md. Mars Research, 1982.

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