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New Evidence of Artificiality at Cydonia on Mars

Tom Van Flandern, Meta Research -- 97/03/15



The so-called "Face" on Mars and the surrounding anomalous objects in a region called "Cydonia" appear at first glance to be randomly located and oriented on the planet. But it has previously been established that the martian poles had a different location with respect to the surface of the planet in the past, and apparently jumped from that location to the present one in relatively little geological time. We draw attention to the fact that the Cydonia area is right on the old martian equator, and the "Face" is oriented perpendicular to that old equator, to within the measurement uncertainties. This has only about a 1% probability of occurring by chance. Both the line of inquiry that led to this discovery and a possible purpose for building such an artificial structure looking into space were suggested by the exploded planet hypothesis. Taken in conjunction with the finding of bilateral symmetry in the Face and the anomalous nature of other nearby objects on Mars, the weight of existing evidence has, in this author's opinion, shifted in favor of an artificial origin of the Cydonia complex. With luck, the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft now en route to Mars will confirm or refute this conclusion.

Figure 1.

Overview of Cydonia region on Mars. North is up. The frame height is about 1.5 degrees or 80 km.

Description of Cydonia

The Cydonia region of Mars (see Figure 1) is located at 41° north latitude, 10° west longitude on the red planet. It was photographed several times by NASA's Viking Mars-orbiting spacecraft in the mid-to-late 1970s. One ground object drew the attention of researchers because of its striking resemblance to a human face. In the opinion of many who have viewed the higher resolution images, the resemblance is closer than seems likely to have arisen by chance, despite half the "face" being hidden in shadow. (See Figure 2.) Because it is a three-dimensional "face" and not just a profile, it has been described as the next best depiction of a human face in stone on its (~ 1 kilometer) size scale in the explored solar system after Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

The immediately surrounding area likewise contains a number of anomalous-looking objects. One of them, dubbed the "D&M pyramid" after its discoverers Vincent DiPietro and Gregory Molenaar, is shown in Figure 3. It has a more-than-passing resemblance to a four-sided, or possibly a five-sided, pyramid. The formation of a small crater seen very close to the base on the shadowed side has apparently thrown debris onto that side of the object, and possibly caused it to split or separate, leading to the ambiguity in the number of original apparent pyramidal faces. But the three faces not coated with debris appear remarkably smooth and triangular, separated by seemingly linear edges.

Figure 2.

Close-up of the "Face" at Cydonia on Mars.

Figure 3.

Close-up of "D&M pyramid" at Cydonia on Mars.

Figure 4.

Close-up of "Fortress" at Cydonia on Mars.

Figure 5.

Close-up of "City" showing its relation to the "Face" and "Fortress".

(Click on any of the thumbnail images to see the full-sized illustration)

Still another nearby object has been dubbed the "Fortress" because of a modest resemblance to structures called that on Earth. (See Figure 4.) Its linear features and sharp angles suggest artificiality to some. A nearby cluster of vaguely pyramidal objects surrounding some unusual small mounds not commonly seen away from Cydonia has been dubbed the "City". (See Figure 5.) Two or perhaps three other nearby features are each in its own way mildly anomalous or unique on the planet. These may be viewed in (Carlotto, 1991), in (DiPietro, Molenaar & Brandenburg, 1988), or on the Internet <here>.

Summary of the Exploded Planet Hypothesis (eph)

In (Van Flandern, 1993), the author provided extensive evidence of the explosion of a former major planet in the main asteroid belt. Such evidence may be found all over the solar system. A few highlight points include the following:

  • Asteroid orbits fill the available range of positions and velocities between Mars and Jupiter that are stable against planetary perturbations over millions of years. Their original population was clearly far greater, with only a small percentage of the original mass still present. Some asteroid orbits, most notably the Trojan asteroids near Jupiter's orbit, are not stable for time spans as long as a billion years, and cannot be original members of the solar system (Marzari, Farinella, et al., 1997).

  • Asteroid orbits possess "explosion signatures" – patterns first catalogued for orbits of fragments of artificial Earth satellites that blew up in orbit around the Earth, that are indicative of a common origin at one point in space at one instant of time (Gabbard, 1974).

  • Many meteorites show evidence of separation of heavy elements from light elements by gravity (called "chemical differentiation"), as would normally require a planetary-sized parent body.

  • All meteorites have relatively young cosmic ray exposure ages, indicating they have not been traveling in space in their present form since the solar system's origin billions of years ago. They must be fragments of much larger bodies. But collisional fragmentation is rare enough that most meteorites should show much older exposure ages than they do. So some other large-scale fragmentation process seems required.

  • The predicted statistical properties of the orbits of fragments ejected to a great distance from an explosion in the main asteroid belt are well fulfilled by "new" comets. Some of these properties were unknown before being predicted by the explosion model and confirmed in the actual orbits of new comets (Van Flandern, 1978).

  • Comet comas seem to have all the properties of the predicted debris clouds that should accompany fragments from an explosion. One of these is visibility of the coma all around the orbit. The standard model tries to explain comas by outgassing from a single nucleus as the comet approaches the Sun. But Comet Hale-Bopp, for example, had a fully developed coma when first photographed out near the orbit of Uranus.

  • Comets and asteroids, to the surprise of mainstream astronomy, appear to be indistinguishable as classes with respect to physical and chemical properties such as reflectivity and spectra. No unique identifying characteristic seems to exist, as if both had a common origin. Yet in standard models, asteroids originated in the inner solar system and comets in the outer regions, and the two should be quite chemically and spectrally distinct.

  • The explosion model expected debris clouds around asteroids and comets. This led to a well-publicized 1991 prediction that satellites will be found around both types of bodies. Mainstream astronomers were shocked when the Galileo spacecraft found a moon orbiting asteroid Ida in 1993.

Figure 6.

Saturn's half-bright, half-dark moon Iapetus.

  • The explosion would have sent a blast wave of black, carbonaceous material through the entire planetary system. In fact, airless bodies are coated by just such black residue precisely to the extent they could have been exposed to such a blast wave. The most striking example is Saturn's moon Iapetus, which spins so slowly (once per 80 days) that only one side could have been coated by the blast. An unsolved mystery of long standing about Iapetus is why it is icy-bright on one side and coal black on the other. (See Figure 6.)

Over 100 lines of evidence bearing on the comparison of the exploded planet hypothesis and the many standard models it would replace are discussed in (Van Flandern, 1993). The two strongest lines of evidence are: (1) the occurrence among comet orbits of every statistical property of orbits expected to result from an explosion origin, including some not previously known; and (2) the a priori prediction of the main physical characteristics of comets by the explosion-debris-cloud ("satellite") model. An example of the former is the expectation of a population of "new" comets close to solar system escape velocity falling back into the planetary region for the first time since the explosion. An example of the latter is a quantitative prediction of the mean relative speeds of split comet fragments as a function of heliocentric distance -- a feat that is by itself a virtual proof of the explosion-debris-cloud model for comets.

The recent discovery of a second belt of fragments orbiting the Sun in large numbers beyond the orbit of Neptune suggests that planetary explosions into asteroid belts are not rare events on time scales of billions of years. The mean orbital period of new comets tells us that the most recent "planetary" explosion event happened 3.2 million years ago, and the angular momenta of new comets locates that explosion somewhere within or near the main asteroid belt. The number of new comets, integrated over 3.2 million years, indicates a total mass of the parent body somewhere between that of the largest asteroid Ceres and that of our Moon. Consistent with that finding, the most common type of meteorites found on Earth, the chondrites, are from a parent body too small for chemical differentiation to have occurred, as is generally true for moon-sized bodies.

Geological boundary



Permian-Triassic (P/T)

336 Mya

15-Earth-mass "Planet K" (taken from M.W. Ovenden’s proposed name "Krypton") exploded in the outer main asteroid belt, giving rise to C-type asteroids. Iron meteorites are the survivors remaining in Earth-crossing or bits from this long-ago catastrophe that wiped out 90% of all species on Earth. Ceres and perhaps also Pallas, Juno, and/or Vesta may have been moons of this planet prior to the explosion. The large number of Earth-crossing asteroids generated by this explosion then continued to pepper Earth over the next 50-million-plus years, accounting for the seemingly long duration of this cataclysm.

Cretaceous-Tertiary (K/T)

65 Mya

8-Earth-mass "Planet V" (the original fifth planet) exploded in the inner main asteroid belt, giving rise to S-type asteroids. Stony-iron and achondritic meteorites are the survivors remaining in Earth-crossing orbits today, of the event associated with the extinction of the dinosaurs and a single global fire. Mars and Body C were presumably moons of Planet V before this explosion. Other lesser events at 38 Mya ("Body E") and perhaps 16 Mya ("Body D") may have been the explosions of other former moons.


3.2 Mya

0.01-Earth-mass Body C (source of today’s comets) exploded in the inner asteroid belt, giving rise to chondritic meteorites and much of the current population of small Earth-crossing asteroids. Body C and Mars were most probably former moons of Planet V prior to the explosion of the latter. The two abandoned moons may then have remained gravitationally bound to one another as parent and moon until the explosion of Body C.

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