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More on Monoliths: And More on Mars

A couple of days ago I wrote an article here at Mysterious Universe on the matter of what looks like a monolith on the surface of Phobos – one of the two moons of Mars, the other being Deimos. Today, I’m focusing on Mars itself. It was in 1998 that the Mars Global Surveyor photographed what looks very much a monolith on Phobos. And, as we have seen, there is a great deal of debate regarding what the photo shows – or, depending on one’s perspective, what it does not show. The controversy surrounding the eye-opening image continues to annoy NASA and to amaze seekers of Martians and those who conclude that Mars was once a world filled with life. It should be noted, though, that Phobos’ monolith is not alone. That’s right: Phobos has a rival in the weird stakes. Say “hello” to nothing less than the monolith of Mars. That’s right: both Phobos and its parent planet appear to have on their surfaces what seem to be obelisk-shaped stones. It’s no surprise that the controversy surrounding the “object” seen on the Red Planet reverberated all around the world when the story reached the eager ears and eyes of the media.

Live Science said of this particularly interesting development in the matter of Martian mysteries: “The object in question was first spotted several years ago after being photographed by the HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a NASA space probe; every so often, it garners renewed interest on the Internet. But is it unnatural — a beacon erected by aliens for mysterious reasons, and even more mysteriously paralleled in the imaginations of Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, creators of ‘2001’? Or is this rock the work of nature?” That was the question on the minds of just about every researcher of Martian anomalies.

Although it was in 2012 when the startling news of the amazing find took place, NASA has stated that the image was actually secured “several years” earlier. Regardless of where I, you, and the scientific community stand on the controversy, the fact is that the photo captured by NASA most assuredly does show something that looks like a monolith – hence the reason why it went on to quickly create such a controversy. And that is precisely also why it continues to do so. Not everyone is sure that the monolith is a monolith, after all, though. One of those who takes a down to earth explanation on all of this is Jonathon Hill. In his position at the Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University, Hill suggested that what people were really seeing was “a roughly rectangular boulder.” And a natural boulder, not something that was carved by intelligent beings millions of years ago. Hill explained why, in his opinion, there was very little – in fact, absolutely nothing – to get excited about: “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.”

Adding to the words of Jonathan Hill, was the opinion of Yisrael Spinoza, a spokesperson for the HiRISE department of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. Spinoza said: “It would be unwise to refer to it as a ‘monolith’ or ‘structure’ because that implies something artificial, like it was put there by someone for example. In reality it’s more likely that this boulder has been created by breaking away from the bedrock to create a rectangular-shaped feature.” Alfred McEwen, also of the university, was not buying into the man-made (or, rather, Martian-made) explanation for what was being seen, either: “Layering from rock deposition combined with tectonic fractures creates right-angle planes of weakness such that rectangular blocks tend to weather out and separate from the bedrock.”

As for the work of HiRISE, NASA notes the following: “The High Resolution Imaging Experiment is known as HIRISE. The big and powerful HIRISE camera takes pictures that cover vast areas of Martian terrain while being able to see features as small as a kitchen table…HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) has photographed hundreds of targeted swaths of Mars’surface in unprecedented detail. The camera operates in visible wavelengths, the same as human eyes, but with a telescopic lens that produces images at resolutions never before seen in planetary exploration missions. These high-resolution images enable scientists to distinguish 1-meter-size (about 3-foot-size) objects on Mars and to study the morphology (surface structure) in a much more comprehensive manner than ever before.”

Does it need really stating that not everyone bought into what, for many, was a perfectly acceptable explanation for the presence of the monolith-like piece of rock? Probably not, but let’s see what those on the side of the fence had to say about this distinctly odd situation. The Daily Mail newspaper chose to hark back in time. In doing so, they reminded people of what Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the surface of the Moon, had said about the Phobos monolith: “We should visit the moons of Mars. There’s a monolith there.” The Daily Mail’s article was written in a fashion that clearly led the reader to conclude that whatever had been captured on film on Phobos was not alone. The surface of Mars itself, it now seemed, was echoing the secrets of Phobos. So, where does all of this leave us? The reality of the situation is that it leaves us in what is very much a state of limbo. The staff of HiRISE have provided us with what is a perfectly plausible explanation for why it appears that there is a monolith-like protrusion on Mars. On the other hand, that there is a distinctly similar, obelisk-like object on the surface of one of Mars’ moons, too, is something that we should not forget.


Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.
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