No, There’s No Monolith On Mars. Or Is There?
Poor old Mars. Ever since we’ve pointed our telescopes on its red terrain, we’ve been spinning crazy tales of life possibly existing in the dry and barren planet. From little green men that were once believed to inhabit the planet, to tales of giant humanoid faces carved from stone and left for future generations to discover.
Much like in the early twentieth century, amateur astronomers have found a strange structure on the planet’s surface. A noticeably tall monolith that sits alone. Like in Kubrick’s classic “2001: A Space Odyssey” this not-so-recently discovered anomaly on Mar’s surface does resemble a man (or alien) made monolith.
Although NASA has explained this anomaly as a trick of light, shadows, and the human imagination, we still see this image surface on the web from time to time.
Full source: Space.com
According to Jonathon Hill, a research technician and mission planner at the Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University, who processes many of the images taken during NASA’s Mars missions, the object in question is no more than a roughly rectangular boulder.
The HiRISE camera that photographed it has a resolution of approximately 1 foot (30 centimeters) per pixel — impressive considering the 180-mile (300-kilometer) altitude from which it photographs the Martian surface, but not quite sharp enough to capture the cragginess of a mid-size boulder. “When your resolution is too low to fully resolve an object, it tends to look rectangular because the pixels in the image are squares. Any curve will look like a series of straight lines if you reduce your resolution enough,” Hill told Life’s Little Mysteries.
The location of the boulder at the bottom of a cliff near many other boulders suggests it broke off the cliff and tumbled to its current spot sometime in the distant past, Hill said. Such a perilous location is itself an argument against deliberate placement by aliens: “If I was going to build a monolith somewhere, that’s the last place I would put it!” he said. “The debris falling from the cliff would cover it up pretty quickly, on geologic timescales.”
Hill added that the height of the boulder is being exaggerated in the photo by a low sun angle. Photographed when the sun was near the horizon, the boulder casts an especially long shadow.
The ufologists aren’t necessarily wrong in calling it a monolith — the word simply translates from Latin as “one stone.” But this monolith isn’t the masonry of Martians.