Mars, he’s making eyes at me

Saturday, March 13, 1999

The Daily Mail

EVERYONE has heard of the Man on the Moon. But here, grinning at the camera, is his Martian cousin.mars1

Looking as if it could have been drawn by a child, this picture of a happy-faced crater was taken by a Nasa spacecraft which began mapping the surface of Mars this week.

The bizarre effect is caused by geographical features within the 134-mile-wide Galle Crater on the eastern side of a basin called the Argyre Planitia. The smile was snapped by the space agency’s £100 million Mars Global Surveyor, which was launched in 1996 on a ten-year mission of space exploration.

It reached the Red Planet in September 1997 but it was only this week that the small robotic craft began its main scientific mission after a long delay in achieving the proper orbit for mapping the surface.

The happy face was first noticed in images sent back to Earth during the Viking 1 mission to Mars in 1976. Viking also returned images of the rather more sullen’Mars Face’, which looks like a skull with empty eye sockets.


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