Astronomy Picture of the Day
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July 22, 1995
The Face on Mars
Picture Credit: NASA,Viking Project,
This image, showing what looks to be a human face
sculpted on the martian surface,
was produced using data from NASA's
Viking 1 orbiter in 1976.
Described in a press release as a "face-like hill"
it caused some to offer the sensational speculation that it
was an artificial construct built by an intelligent civilization on Mars!
As a result, this image was splashed across the covers of
many grocery store tabloids at the time.
A detailed analysis of multiple images of this feature
reveals a natural looking martian hill
whose illusory face-like appearance depends on viewing angle and
angle of illumination.
For more information about the picture see the
NSSDC Photo Gallery of Mars.
For a detailed discussion of the "Face on Mars" see the
Face on Mars page,
and APOD for
April 7, 1998
Tomorrow's picture: M20: The Trifid Nebula
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