In 2007 the NASA Mars rover "Opportunity" was exploring Victoria Crater, and as usual, a series of images were taken of the area. But one picture in particular taken on Sol 1070, had some Mars enthusiasts completely baffled. A long series of mysterious regular-spaced marks on the ground (1) were clearly visible, and gave rise to the idea that a string of possible artificial objects or buildings had been photographed on Mars, and that significantly, NASA had decided to keep quiet about it.
The MARS ARCHAEOLOGY ARCHIVE, a website that examines strange objects on Mars for possible archaeological evidence, recently took a closer look at this image and together with researcher Nev T. Thompson, quickly realised what the picture revealed . . . the markings were simply tracks made by the wheels of the Opportunity Rover as it drove past that area. It was further revealed that the Opportunity team had also been conducting visual odometry tests (2) of the wheels on that date, which may have been responsible for these more pronounced marks in the Martian soil.
This explanation was confirmed by two pieces of data:
1. An overhead image taken of Victoria Crater by NASA's HiRISE orbiter, which revealed the physical wheel tracks still showing on the Martian surface (3).
2. A traverse map which marks out the exact path the Opportunity Rover took while exploring Victoria Crater (4).
On reflection it should perhaps have been obvious, but when the public only has a 2D image to look at it with no reference point or mission overview, and are also suspicious over NASA's reluctance to investigate strange anomalies on Mars, or to engage with the public on the matter, it is all too easy for the imagination to get carried away and to believe that every odd picture is a hidden conspiracy.
But can NASA be doing something to help educate the public a bit better? To engage with them and help explain away all the strange images from Mars? There are indeed many anomalous images taken by the Mars rovers and orbiters that need explaining, and there is never any response from NASA science teams other than to dismiss everything as fantasy and odd-shaped rocks, without sharing any analysis of them with the public whatsoever.
So if they are truly interested in dismissing all the conspiracy theories regarding secret cover-ups of an 'ancient civilization on Mars', here's what NASA can do to both educate and inform people: Start a WEBSITE to highlight strange objects seen on Mars images, and have them all scientifically explained.
M J Craig, Mars Archaeology Archive
Author of "Secret Mars"
(1) NASA image of Sol 1070 "Mysterious marks on the ground":
(2) Sol-by-Sol Summary report "Visual odometry tests":
(3) Overhead image of Victoria Crater "Physical wheel tracks":
(4) Traverse Map "Exact path Opportunity Rover took":