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The Mars Global Surveyor team's first image of the Cydonia region of Mars (the area containing the "Face on Mars").
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA

Face-Off!
News story originally written on April 8, 1998

The camera on the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) has taken a picture of the Cydonia area of Mars. In this Cydonia region, the 'Face on Mars' was first photographed by the 1976 Viking mission.

It's been 20 years since the 'Face' was last photographed. During those 20 years, there was a controversy about what the 'Face' was. Most scientists thought it was just a small mountain. However, there were many believers of aliens who thought the 'Face' was an ancient city on Mars...shaped like a face to attract exploration of that area.

But the more recent MGS image is more accurate. As one can see from the new MGS photo on the left, the 'Face' is more likely just a geological feature (a small mountain or hill).

It seems this two-decade face-off is coming to a close as the MGS has provided images of only geological features...

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA