A man named Richard Hoagland claimed that 1976 photographs of the Cydonia region of Mars showed a human-like face. The so-called "Face on Mars" rose to international fame as Hoagland waxed speculatively about the significance of the stunning find: Was it a sign for us from extraterrestrials? Where were the builders of this magnificent monument? On April 5, 1998, the Mars Global Surveyor took photographs of the same region in far higher resolution than was possible in 1976. The new images clearly showed an area heavily eroded, and that the "face" was simply the result of low image quality, the brain's tendency to see human forms and faces, and tricks of light and shadow.
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The six-legged, nuclear-powered $2 billion robot has already sent back images of Gale Crater where it landed, and it's soon on its way toward a 3-mile-high mountain nearby. Scientists — and indeed the entire world — are watching with bated breath to see what Curiosity can find as it spends the next two years digging, sampling, probing, and analyzing on the Red Planet's rocky surface.
Many will also be looking for evidence of life on Mars, and Curiosity may provide it — even if it's not there. NASA footage has long been fodder for UFO buffs and conspiracy theorists who comb through countless photos and hours of video looking for evidence of alien life (or evidence that NASA is covering up evidence of extraterrestrials).
Indeed, NASA images have previously been claimed to show evidence of Martian life.
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