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The Most Perplexing Anomalies of Mars
Mysterious boulders, strange pyramids, amazing city-like structures and startling, unexplained "glass worms" are all a part of the enigmatic landscape of the Red Planet.
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Part 2: The Glass Worms of Mars

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Mars is a world of mysteries. And on February 14, 2001, a new mystery surfaced on the Red Planet - almost quite literally.

Valley of the Boulders
On that date, an international group of nine 10- 15-year-old boys and girls - known as the Red Rover Goes to Mars Team - were invited by NASA to direct the camera aboard the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS). The MGS probe has been orbiting Mars since March, 1998 and has sent back many spectacular images of the planet's surface in stunning detail. But when these kids took the controls of the camera, they picked up an image of an anomaly that has scientists puzzled. It's the latest in a long list of pictures from Mars that keeps scientists, amateur astronomers and explorers of the unknown scratching their heads.

The picture, seen below, shows a scattering of large, dark boulders in the middle of a relatively flat, light-colored plain. The puzzle is: Where did they come from? There are no mountains or large hills that the boulders could have broken off from. And their color is in sharp contrast to anything in the surrounding area.

"It's puzzling," said Michael Carr of the US Geological Survey. "I looked at a few pictures around [the area] and couldn't find anything to explain it. Very puzzling! These are huge boulders. There are no indications of any outcrops that could shed such boulders."


NASA - Click photo for enlargement
How huge are they? It is estimated that they are between 50 and 80 feet in diameter! Those are big rocks!

"Wow! These have me totally stumped," commented Ron Greeley of Arizona State University. "Not only is the dark color of the boulders a surprise, but they appear totally out of context in the surrounding terrain. There is nothing in the rest of the image to suggest a source for such large boulders, nor their arrangement on the surface."

One proposed theory is that the boulders are the remains of a meteor that shattered on impact. Yet there is no impact crater; the meteor would have had to have been moving quite slowly to make no crater and keep its fragments in such a close grouping. The meteor theory is highly unlikely. Planetary scientists have yet to come up with a plausible, satisfactory explanation for the boulders.


Martian pyramids.


Giza pyramids.

The Pyramids
The Cydonia region of Mars seems to be chock full of weird anomalous structures. Southwest of the infamous "face" is a group of features that have been called "pyramids." With their relatively smooth, triangular sides, they bear a striking resemblance from the air to the pyramids at Giza, Egypt (see photos at right).

One of the most closely studied is the so-called D&M pyramid. According to researcher Mark Carlotto, "the three illuminated faces of the D&M appear to be relatively flat with well defined edges in between. Buttress like structures at the base of several edges are also evident. In the MGS image the edge between the northeast and northwest faces resembles a spine running from the apex of the D&M down to the ground. At the base of the spine lies a circular depression, possibly an opening. A dark feature seems to emanate northward from this depression or opening, which then leads into a sinuous channel off to the right."

Carlotto also has examined "the City Pyramid," a five-sided structure whose spines "resemble the five pointed Egyptian symbol for a star." In the most high-resolution photos of these structures taken by MGS, the pyramids look somewhat less pyramid-like, but their geometric shapes are still intriguing.

Next page > The Glass Worms of Mars > Page 1, 2


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