Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Here Comes Another Martian Conspiracy Theory

Move over, face on Mars, there's a new conspiracy theory coming - maybe.

"Armchair Astronomer Finds 'Evidence' of Life on Mars"
FoxNews.com (June 6, 2011)

"NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab is investigating a California armchair astronomer's claim that a white, fuzzy image on the red planet's surface might be evidence of life.

"David Martines' YouTube video is heading for viral status after he uploaded a flyby of Google Earth's Mars explorer zooming in on a white, cylindrical object.

"The object, according to Martines, is 'about 700 feet long and 150 feet wide.' He's calling it 'Bio Station Alpha, because I'm just assuming that something lives in it or has lived in it.'

"His video was uploaded May 28, and has already been watched nearly 750,000 times.

"A spokesman for NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab told FoxNews.com it was investigating the wild claims, speculating that 'Bio Station Alpha' would most likely be determined to be a glitch in the digital imaging or an unusual feature on the surface of the planet -- and not a Martian base....

"...But who's responsible? Martines says it's unlikely to be NASA.

" 'I don't know if they could pull off such a project without all the people seeing all the material going up there,' he said. 'I sort of doubt NASA has anything to do with this. I don't know if NASA even knows about this.'

"Google's imagery comes from many different locations, a company spokeswoman said, and glitches and errors can be introduced in many ways...."

The FoxNews.com article mentions the old "face on Mars" thing - which can be taken as proof they FoxNews.com is part of the conspiracy. The Lemming doesn't think there's a conspiracy to be part of - so the Lemming's in on it, too: using the same (logic? reasoning?).

NASA and the Amateur Astronomers

NASA is taking a look at the 'bio station' claim - which the Lemming thinks makes good sense. If the fuzzy white streak isn't an image processing glitch, something isn't the same color as the surrounding terrain.

The area that's getting attention is near one of the Martian poles - where carbon dioxide is part of the polar ice cap. The odds are pretty good that if there really is a feature on Mars where that image shows a streak, it's probably at least partly dry ice. In the Lemming's opinion.

Whatever that whitish mark is, the Lemming doesn't think it's something artificial on Mars. At least, that's among the much-less-likely explanations, in the Lemming's opinion.

This wouldn't be the first time folks were convinced they saw engineering projects on the red planet. By the way, one of the more likely explanations for the enduring canals of Mars is that they're the result of intelligent life - on our end of the telescope. (March 14, 2009)

The Lemming isn't cautious about assuming that the mark on Mars isn't artificial because an "armchair astronomer" noticed it. Amateur astronomers are just as serious as their paid counterparts - the difference is that they observe even when they're not getting grant money. That's a little unfair - but the Lemming thinks "armchair astronomer" may not be the best choice of words. The skyandtelescope.com magazine is a pretty good place to start looking at what astronomers, amateur and otherwise, are doing.

NASA has taken note of what amateurs noticed in the wealth of data sent back by probes before: like the Martian cave discovered by a seventh grade class. (June 22, 2010)

Space Aliens On Mars? That'd be Great, But - - -

The Lemming would love for "Bio Station Alpha" to really be something built by space aliens - or Martians. It's supposed to be at 71 49'19.73"N 29 33'06.53"W on Mars, by the way.

Assuming that it's space alien technology requires quite a few assumptions - including that there are space aliens to put it there. Other explanations require not quite so many assumptions, so the Lemming's not expecting this to be a "First Encounters" situation.

If the Lemming were writing a story, that bright streak wouldn't be any of the possibilities that Mr. Martines mentioned:

"...'It could be a powerstation or it could be a biological containment or it could be a glorified garage -- hope it's not a weapon.'

" 'Whoever put it up there had a purpose I'm sure. I couldn't imagine what the purpose was. I couldn't imagine why anybody would want to live on Mars.'..."

An (extremely unlikely) explanation is that it's a spaceship. One whose pilot almost managed to land safely on Mars. Recently. Within the last year or so. It was a hard landing, which explains why the fuselage is bent and even broken in a few places. Since there don't seem to be signs of activity around it, there probably weren't survivors. Although that short feature coming out from the fuselage, on the viewer's right, about a quarter of the way from the lower end, might be a deployed exit chute.

Does the Lemming think this is possible? Yes, barely.

Does the Lemming think it's likely that there's a crashed spaceship on Mars, that it's not one of ours, and that the pilot might have gotten a distress call out before going down? In the Lemming's considered opinion, that's a great deal less likely than the Lemming winning the lottery.

Still, it could make a dandy story.

Somewhat-related posts:
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Brigid said...

There's something odd about this phrase: "they saw engineer projects"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Oops. Right. Fixed. Thanks!

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