Imagine, if you will, a huge network of strange, huge "tubes" positioned across certain portions of Mars' vast landscape. Not only that, they just might have been the sophisticated creations of ancient Martians who used them as a means of perhaps planet-wide transport in the distant past. Sounds incredible? Well, yes, it is incredible. But does that make it true? That’s the big question that sorely requires answering. The controversy all began after certain photos of the curious structures were secured by NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor, which was launched in November 1996. The MGS obtained incredible images from all across the planet. Indeed, as NASA noted: "Mars Global Surveyor, launched in 1996, operated longer at Mars than any other spacecraft in history, and for more than four times as long as the prime mission originally planned. The spacecraft returned detailed information that has overhauled understanding about Mars. Major findings include dramatic evidence that water still flows in short bursts down hillside gullies, and identification of deposits of water-related minerals leading to selection of a Mars rover landing site."
Are the mysterious tubes nothing more than the modern day equivalents of the non-existent canals that captivated both Lowell and Schiaparelli a long, long time ago? Was this really solid evidence, caught on camera by NASA, of incredible structures created by advanced Martians? Or, was a huge wave of embarrassment about to engulf those whose enthusiasm just might cause them to jump the gun? Those were the questions being asked approximately a century after Lowell’s 1895 book, Mars, began making big and controversial waves. There’s no doubt that the tubes – largely translucent or transparent, but not exclusively - exist. And in large amounts. And, there’s no doubt whatsoever that the natures of the tubes require a definitive answer as to what they are. Theories include (a) the highly ironic idea that Lowell and Schiaparelli were, mostly, correct from the very beginning – that the tubes were used by Martians to divert precious and vital water supplies to areas of the planet that were running perilously low when Mars began to degrade, whether due to catastrophic environmental developments, or as a result of a planet-wide war; and (b) that the tubes were a means of transportation for the Martians themselves.
Jeffrey McCann, of The Research Abyss, said, somewhat echoing the theories of Percival Lowell: “A lot of people have seen these strange structures and have tried to speculate as to what they might be. Some would say these are huge water ducts funneling water from one area to another [italics mine], others are firm in thinking that these are some sort of natural geological anomaly only occurring on Mars." As these words demonstrate, sometimes it’s hard to fully move on from old theories. Few people – if any – deny the undeniably odd appearance of the tubes: they look just like gigantic, ribbed earthworms. In fact, after what became famously known as the "glass tube photo” taken by the Mars Global Surveyor surfaced, Mars researcher Richard Hoagland highlighted the controversy at his website. It can be accurately said that Hoagland was the primary figure who brought the matter of the tubes to an eager and amazed audience.
Ron Nicks, a geologist, recalled of one particular image sent back to Earth: "This remarkable 'tube,' roughly a mile in length and hundreds of feet wide, appears to cling to a desert canyon wall near the canyon’s bottom, and extend along its entire length. The feature has the appearance of being 'translucent,' of being supported at somewhat regular intervals by 'ribs,' and of being quite cylindrical - with a localized, internal structure at one point of considerably higher albedo (brightness). To define this feature in purely geological terms has been a considerable challenge." These ribs, or arches – the latter may be better and more correct terminology – play a significant role in the theories and conclusions of those who doubt that the tubes are merely natural phenomena. On this issue, Richard Hoagland and Mike Bara – the authors of Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA – said: "Critics in the past attempted to pass off similar arches as 'sand dunes.' To be sure, there are some superficial resemblances between these 'arches' (and similar structures near the base of some pyramids at Cydonia) and real sand dunes – but on any sort of close examination, the 'sand dune' argument quickly falls apart."”
As for what the photo actually shows us, Glen Hiemstra, A.K.A. "The Futurist"” echoed: "The land area seen in the full image is about 20 miles by 2 miles. The portion of the tube exposed, more clearly seen in the blown-up image, is about 1.5 miles long and perhaps 100 meters in diameter. It appears to be translucent, as though made of glass. It has circular markings, perhaps support structures, at regular intervals. The idea that it may be naturally occurring ice is apparently ruled out by the temperature at this region of Mars. So what is it?" That's the question just about every devotee of Martian puzzles wants answering.