A face isn't the only thing on Mars.
If you study recent photographs taken by the Mars Global Surveyor, Richard Hoagland is convinced, you'll find evidence of an entire ancient civilization.The remains of a city, eroded tetrahedrons, rows of what appear to be abutments or foundation supports and other regular geometric forms - they're all there, whether NASA wants to admit it or not, the controversial scientist and former NASA consultant said during a lecture Saturday at the University of Utah.
"Craters are not six-sided, and the asteroids who make them don't know how to land on pedestals," Hoagland said of one hexagonally shaped feature found in Mars' 25-mile-long Cydonia region.
"It's very apparent that we're not looking at a natural structure or primitive Egyptian stuff, but very high-tech stuff. . . . A stunning civilization that's been left in ruin for millions of years."
Hoagland, who advanced the "face on Mars" theory after the Viking orbiter's now-famous photos of the Cydonia region in 1976, is even more confident in his belief, now that the Global Surveyor has returned three new photographs of Cydonia.
The public at large, however, may believe the case is closed and that the "face" is nothing but a naturally occurring geological formation - thanks to the Surveyor's first photo of the region, released to media worldwide early last month.
That photo was taken at a different angle than the original Viking photos and subsequent Surveyor pictures maintain the integrity of the "face" theory, Hoagland said.
But, unfortunately for Hoagland and those working with him to expose what they say is clear evidence of a past Martian civilization, the first picture was the only one many people saw.
"(NASA) simply made it such a lousy picture that no one will trust any assessments made on that data," Hoagland said during his five-and-a-half hour talk.
The NASA photos and Hoagland's interpretation can be viewed on his Web site, (www.enterprisemission.com).
Hoagland also believes the first Surveyor photo was altered by NASA and says he can prove it. Other independent researchers found objects in the photo that clearly would not be found on Mars, he said. He believes those objects were planted by NASA insiders who knew the photo was faked but wanted to leave a "trail of evidence."
He has shown the objects to major media outlets, including the Associated Press, USA Today, the Washington Post, Time and Newsweek, he said, but so far none has been willing to go public with the information. He said anyone is capable of finding the objects in the first Surveyor photo of the "face."
Hoagland wants NASA to continue shooting the Cydonia region. It soon will have an opportunity to take 12 more shots of Cydonia, one every nine days, as the Surveyor orbits the planet, he said.
He also wants NASA to send a manned mission to Mars, where he believes they would find a vast collection of artifacts - perhaps information that will improve the human condition - underneath the rubble of Cydonia.
"I think he knows what he's talking about," said Corinne Cherrington, 19, of Provo, one of about 200 people who paid up to $19.50 a ticket to see Hoagland's computer-aided lecture. "I think he's done a lot of research and I hope he proves NASA wrong."
There were no apparent critics in the crowd.
"I can see how it's hard for some people to see what he's talking about, but if you have some background on it, it's easy to see," said Chris Gaubatz, a freshman at the university who recently took a physics class on "the search for extraterrestrial intelligence."
John Wilson, a Vietnam veteran from American Fork, said his military experience made him more than skeptical of "official" information handed out by the government. He said he believes Hoagland is on to something.
Hoagland also showed video taken from a shuttle mission in December 1996. The footage shows a missile-like white object twisting into the atmosphere from Santiago, Chile, then shows numerous apparent UFOs in the sky above Chile, including some that appear to blink on and off.
"NASA isn't talking" about that footage, Hoagland said.