Jun 28, 2021 I Nick Redfern

The Planet Mars: Its Anomalies and Mysteries

Mars, our nearest planetary neighbor in the Solar-System, is approximately forty million miles from the Earth and one hundred and forty two million miles from the Sun. Not particularly big in size, it is dwarfed by all of the planets except for Mercury. At the other end of the spectrum, however, Mars is home to the gigantic Olympus Mons, which is the biggest volcano in the entire Solar-System. The huge amount of iron oxide on Mars gives it a noticeable – famous, even - reddish color, hence its memorable nickname: the Red Planet. It has a blood-freezing average temperature of -81 degrees F, and its decidedly harsh atmosphere is comprised almost exclusively of carbon dioxide; aside, that is, from a small amount of water vapor. There is no denying the fact that dusty, rocky, desert-like Mars is a very interesting world: for one thing, it has polar ice-caps. And those ice-caps are comprised of water. Yes, good old water; just like ours. And, there's no denying that mars has its mysteries. Let's begin.

As NASA noted in 1997: "Launched November 7, 1996, Mars Global Surveyor became the first successful mission to the red planet in two decades. After a year and a half spent trimming its orbit from a looping ellipse to a circular track around the planet, the spacecraft began its prime mapping mission in March 1999. It has continued to observe the planet from a low-altitude, nearly polar orbit ever since.” Not only that, NASA added that Mars has “very repeatable weather patterns” and that a “panoply of high-resolution images from the Mars Global Surveyor has documented gullies and debris flows suggesting that occasional sources of liquid water, similar to an aquifer, were once present at or near the surface of the planet."

That same panoply revealed something else; something amazing, if the data was not being misinterpreted. Tucked away among a wealth of less controversial images from the Mars Global Surveyor were a number of astounding images that appeared to show nothing less than vast areas of vegetation; trees, even. They looked eerily like what on Earth are termed Banyan Trees. They are, essentially, trees that grow and thrive by living on other trees. It wasn’t long before the media – and Arthur C. Clarke – caught wind of these extraordinary photographs and what they seemed to show. The debate still goes on. Some say trees. NASA says "no."

Now, let’s address the matters of Mars’ giant-sized spiders. Yes, you did read that right.  But, no, we’re not talking about something like a wild plot from a 1950s sci-fi-driven Godzilla-type movie. We’re actually talking about something far more exciting. It’s a story that dates back to 1999, which was when the Mars Global Surveyor photographed some seriously strange "things" on the surface of Mars. "Spidery" is the best way to describe them. One person, more than any other, who took up the challenge to solve the mystery is Greg Orme. Someone who has a deep passion for the mysteries of Mars, Orme began his research into Martian anomalies in 1994. Since then, he has written a book, Why We Must Go to Mars: The King’s Valley, and a paper on those mysterious spiders for the journal of the British Interplanetary Society. Orme’s voluminous collection of photos of Martian anomalies is highly impressive. Mac Tonnies was excited by Orme’s work and went on to describe the “Black Spiders,” as they became known, as resembling “nerve ganglia” or "ground-hugging trees" within "a macabre forest." Such descriptions are undeniably appropriate. NASA has a very different view on the spiders of Mars: "…these aren’t actual spiders. Called ‘araneiform terrain,’ they are spider-like radiating mounds that form when carbon dioxide ice below the surface heats up and releases."

It was in 1998 that the Mars Global Surveyor photographed what looks very much a monolith on the surface of Mars' moon Phobos. 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.

On September 24, 2015, the U.K.’s Express newspaper ran an article titled “Has Stonehenge been found on Mars? Ancient ‘alien’ stone circle discovered on Red Planet.” That’s quite a headline, to say the very least. “Mr. Enigma,” who highlighted the breaking story at his YouTube channel said that what appeared to be in evidence on the surface of Mars was “a perfectly circular platform with a strange cluster of stones emerging from it.” He added: “I know the formation is not an exact match, nor am I saying it is, indeed, a Stonehenge set up. I am just saying there is something strange about this area and it looks very much like the mysterious ancient stone circle of Stonehenge.

Mars: an enigma, to be sure!

Nick Redfern

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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