by Daily Mail Reporter
August 06, 2009
An image of what appears to be a mysterious rocky monument on Mars
has excited space junkies around the world.
The 'monolith', was snapped from 165 miles away using a special high
resolution camera on board the
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
After being published on the website
Lunar Explorer Italia, it set
tongues wagging with space buffs questioning whether there was once
life on the Red Planet.
How the experts see it
The original HiRISE satellite image supplied
to Mail Online by the University of Arizona
showing a close up of
what appears to be a 'monolith' on Mars
How the science junkies saw it
Three images of the 'monolith'
(close, closer, closest)
as they appeared on the website Lunar
But scientists at the University of Arizona, who captured the
original image, reckon it's just an unremarkable boulder, which
could measure up to five meters across.
Yisrael Spinoza, a spokesman for the
HiRISE department of the
university's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, gave Mail Online the
original image so readers can make up their own minds.
'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.
From further away
The circled area show where the rectangular
feature was discovered
'In reality it's more likely that this boulder has been created by
breaking away from the bedrock to create a rectangular-shaped
The image seems to resemble the black monolith that appears during
key moments of man's evolution in the Stanley Kubrick film
The original image, taken last July, was published again this week
on the University of Arizona's HiRISE website on the 'spotlight'
page which seems to have led to the renewed interest.
'Is it possible that there used to be an ancient civilization on
Mars?' former Montreal radio presenter David Tyler asked on his blog.
'Is it possible that NASA already knows the answer? Could this be
the final straw for disclosure?'
The black monolith appears at turning points of the film
Space Odyssey directed by Stanley Kubrick
monolith found on Phobos (l) was described recently
by Buzz Aldrin,
pictured here in his Apollo space suit
But speaking about the satellite picture scientist
the principal investigator from the University of Arizona's HiRISE
'There are lots of rectangular boulders on Earth
and Mars and other planets.
'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.'
Fuel was added to the flames after Buzz Aldrin, the second man to
walk on the Moon, alluded to a similar monolith detected on Mars'
Speaking on a U.S. cable television channel last week he said:
should visit the moons of Mars.
'There's a monolith there - a very unusual structure on this little
potato shaped object that goes around Mars once every seven hours.
An image sent by the Viking spacecraft in 1976
seemed to show a
human-like face on the surface of Mars
'When people find out about that they are going to say, "Who put
that there? Who put that there?" Well the universe put it there, or
if you choose God put it there.'
In 2007 the Canadian Space Agency funded a study for an unmanned
mission to Phobos known as
PRIME (Phobos Reconnaissance and
International Mars Exploration).
The building-sized monolith is the main proposed landing site but
not because scientists suspect UFO activity. They believe the object
is a boulder exposed relatively recently in an otherwise featureless
area of the asteroid-like moon.
PRIME investigator Dr Alan Hildebrand said it could answer questions
about the moon's composition and history.
'If we can get to that object, we likely donít need to go anywhere
else,' he told his science team.
The fact it seems to resemble a rectangular monument could be due to
This is where humans see familiar images in random
surroundings such as the famous 'Face of Mars', which is actually
just a hilly and cratered area.