McDaniel takes issue with public promises made by NASA Chief Administrator Dan Goldin last year. Goldin's statements have been widely interpreted to mean that NASA will make an effort to produce good photos of the so-called "face" and "pyramids" seen in images taken by the Viking orbiter in 1976. New photos, researchers hope, would resolve the long controversy over whether the Cydonia landforms are natural or artificially created.
But McDaniel says such hopes for better photos of the Cydonia region are probably unfounded.
He points out that only one of the three cameras on board the Mars Global Surveyor is designed to produce high-resolution photos. Only that camera could be counted upon to provide significantly improved images of Cydonia. But that camera, McDaniel says, will probably not photograph Cydonia. The other two cameras are wide-angle, low resolution instruments designed for general mapping of the Martian surface.
"If NASA's announcement referred solely to the output of the wide-angle cameras as the means for obtaining more images of the Cydonia anomalies, this would be a useless gesture, since the best resolution would be about 233 meters/pixel. Compared to the 47 meters/pixel from Viking, this would yield little useful information," McDaniel says.
The high resolution camera can produce images ranging from 1.4 meters/pixel to about 11 meters/pixel. Images from this camera, therefore, could be anywhere from 4 to 33 times sharper than the Viking photos.
McDaniel says he has written repeatedly to NASA officials for clarification on the Cydonia issue, but his questions have gone unanswered.
He also raises the possibility that NASA could re-image Cydonia with the high resolution camera and then hold the photos for a six month "proprietary period," because the high resolution camera is operated under contract with its developer, Dr. Michael Malin. McDaniel says he has learned that many NASA images have been withheld from the public because of proprietary agreements with subcontractors, and in some instances these images have never been released.
McDaniel is urging the public to demand that NASA make good on its promise to re-image Cydonia in a way that can resolve the "face on Mars" controversy. For further information, visit McDaniel's web site at http://www.mcdanielreport.com/.
[This story posted August 1, 1997.]
Original file name: CNI - Cydonia Pics?
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