View of “Face on Mars”
New April 2001 view, MOC image E03-00824

View of "Face on Mars" - New April 2001 view, MOC image E03-00824

Viking orbiter images acquired in 1976 showed that one of thousands of buttes, mesas, ridges, and knobs in the transition zone between the cratered uplands of western Arabia Terra and the low, northern plains of Mars looked somewhat like a human face. The feature was subsequently popularized as a potential "alien artifact" in books, tabloids, radio talk shows, television, and even a major motion picture. Given the popularity of this landform, a new high-resolution view was targeted by pointing the spacecraft off-nadir on April 8, 2001.
On that date at 20:54 UTC (8:54 p.m., Greenwich time zone), the MGS was rolled 24.8 to the left so that it was looking at the "face" 165 km to the side from a distance of about 450 km. The resulting image has a resolution of about 2 meters (6.6 feet) per pixel. If present on Mars, objects the size of typical passenger jet airplanes would be distinguishable in an image of this scale. The large "face" picture, above, covers an area about 3.6 kilometers (2.2 miles) on a side; the 3-D picture is about 1 km (0.62 mi) wide. Sunlight illuminates the images from the left/lower left.

Images Credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems