In 1976, the Viking mission to Mars obtained images of the Martian surface of an area known as the Cydonia. In analyzing these images, Vincent DiPietro and Gregory Molenaar, image interpreters from NASA, discovered an unusual formation in the form of a human face, dubbed The Face. While some believed that this was an ancient, artificially created structure, many dismissed it as a natural formation. Inspired by these findings, astronomer and former NASA consultant Richard C. Hoagland organized the Independent Mars Investigation in 1983 to further study and analyze the images obtained from the Viking mission.
In the investigation, Hoagland discovered and studied other formations inconsistent with Martian geology including the City, a cluster polyhedral objects with a rectangular arrangement and a center of axis pointing at the face, and the D&M Pyramid (named after DiPietro and Molenaar who first noticed it), an immense pyramidal structure, nearly 3 km in length and 1 km high. Hoagland worked with the Stanford Research Institute to study higher quality images of the D&M Pyramid, and found the structure to be a five sided, bilaterally symmetrical pyramid with its axis of symmetry also pointing to the face. While there is no concrete evidence that the D&M Pyramid was built by ancient extraterrestrial beings, I believe that studies conducted on the formation give strong evidence that it is indeed an artificially constructed or modified formation. Studies on the geomorphological processes of Mars have been shown to be inconsistent with the characteristics of the D&M Pyramid, and analyses of the geometry of the pyramid have revealed mathematically significant numbers that may suggest intelligent design.
The D&M pyramid has been studied by a number of scientists who have considered the different natural processes that could have caused the formation. These processes are fluvial deposition, volcanism, aeolian deposition, and crystal growth.
The discovery of drainage channels consistent with formation by water by the Mariner 9 mission has shown evidence that liquid water once flowed on Mars. Fluvial deposition is responsible for many of the symmetrical formations on Mars such as the numerous teardrop shaped islands in ancient streambeds, but can not account for the symmetry of the D&M pyramid. Quite recently, the Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey mission found evidence to support the existence of an ancient cean in Mars northern hemisphere where Cydonia is located, and found that the City, Face, and D&M Pyramid are located near the 0 km datum; sea level (Head et. Al. 1999). Therefore, this indicates that there was no water flowage around the pyramid, much less the 1 km depth (the approximate height of the pyramid) necessary for fluvial deposition to form the structure.
While volcanism has been important in creating and modifying certain landforms on Mars, it is doubtful that the D&M Pyramid was formed by this process. Carr (1981) studied volcanism on Mars and found it to have been concentrated mainly in the Tharsis bulge, Elysium, and Hellas regions. However, he found no evidence of former volcanic activity in the Cydonia region where the D&M pyramid is located.
Since the disappearance of water and the cessation of volcanic activity on Mars, Aeolian deposition (erosion by wind) is now the principle means of geomorphic change on the planet. Aeolian deposition has been observed to have occasionally formed crescent and star-shaped dunes on Mars, known as barchans (Peterson 1992). However, they will never form symmetrical polyhedrons such as the D&M pyramid. However, there have been found pyramidal formations known as ventifacts, formed by the abrasive action of wind-driven airborne particles such as sand on rocks and other formations. In small ventifacts, the movement of a small rock exposes different surfaces of it to the wind, creating multiple sides. However, large, immovable ventifacts (which the D&M Pyramid would certainly fall under if it were indeed a ventifact) always only have three sides. The D&M pyramid exhibits five sides. Aeolian deposition is also responsible for roughly pyramidal formations known as yandyangs. However, yardyangs are customarily found to exist in a series of parallel ridges, beginning in low areas and diverging into separate hills, never in isolation.
Most naturally occurring, symmetrical polyhedra are formed through the process of crystal growth. On Mars, some scientists hypothesize that the freeze-thaw cycle of the water beneath the surface of Mars has produced some abnormal crystal growth on its surface, though it can not account for the formation of the D&M Pyramid. For one thing, crystal growth results in hexagonal symmetry (while the pyramid under study is five sided) and the immense size of the pyramid rules out its creation by crystal growth. There is a certain type of formation formed by crystal growth called quasicrystals, which exhibit icosahedral symmetry and a five-fold symmetry. These are formed by the rapid quenching of molten alloys aluminum and magnesium (Macky 1998). However, these materials are not consistent with the surface chemistry of Mars and thus could not be responsible for the formation of the D&M pyramid.
In studying images from the 1979 Viking mission, Hoagland and associated found a remarkable symmetry to the D&M pyramid. The formation appeared to be in five-sided symmetry, made up of separate isosceles triangles, and followed tetrahedral geometry (30 deg, 60 deg, 90 deg). Furthermore, when they studied the internal angular relationships of the pyramid and drew straight lines from the apex of the pyramid to other anomalous formations such as the face and the city, they found numerous significant and redundant trigonometric relationships, especially in regard to the mathematical constants p (pi) and e (the base of natural logarithms), and the ratio e/p It is important to note that this geometry is not based on cultural conventions such as a number system based on tens or angles based on the 360 degree system, and so it will work with any number system. In addition, in mapping the surface of Mars and laying out a grid of coordinates on its surface, it was found that the apex of the D&M pyramid was located at 40 52′ 04. The inverse tangent of the expression e/p is 40.868, or 40 52′ 04, the exact location of the apex of the pyramid.
In 1988 Erol Torun, a geomorphologist and cartographer with the US Defence Mapping Agency in Washington DC, published a cartographic and geometrical analysis of the D&M pyramid. He concluded that the internal angles and symmetry were unlikely to occur in a natural mountain, and that no known erosional process could produce such a regular formation.
In 2001, the Thermal Emmision Imaging System (THEMIS) aboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft took aerial photos of the D&M Pyramid in 19 meter/pixel resolution, the most detailed and fully illuminated image thus far. Torun (2001) further investigated the symmetry and geometry of the D&M pyramid using these higher quality images, only to confirm Hoaglands measurements and anlaysis.