That Haunting Question: Did Mars
Once Support Intelligent Life?
By James Donahue
Ever since Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli peered through
his telescope and proclaimed that he observed canals on Mars in 1877 there has been speculation that the planet was once inhabited
by intelligent life.
Perhaps it was Science Fiction writer Ray Bradbury’s popular
book The Martian Chronicles that stirred the imagination of millions. The book,
published in 1950, is a series of short stories, later produced as a Hollywood film, that one reviewer said depicts Mars as
“a place of hope, dreams and metaphor of crystal pillars and fossil seas – where a fine dust settles on the great,
empty cities of a silently destroyed civilization.”
In 1976 NASA’s early exploratory Viking fly-by produced
photographs that showed Mars to be a vast barren rock without water or atmosphere to support life. But then Richard Hoagland
published his mind-shattering book Monuments of Mars; A City on the Edge of Forever,
that contained NASA photos showing the controversial mile-wide carved face on Mars and nearby images in the Cydonia Region
that Hoagland argued were the ruins of large buildings including a massive pyramid.
NASA declared Hoagland’s book “a bogus claim”
and declared the image of the face a “trick of light and shadow.” The agency released later images of the rock
formation that did not look like a face at all. So was it a cover-up or was Hoagland
correct in his interpretation of the face?
Since Hoagland the speculation that life once thrived on the
red planet has continued to flourish. This is because continued images from NASA orbiter and data from the two exploratory
machines that have been crawling their way across the rocky surface have been turning up pictures of numerous “rock
formations” that look as if they were made by intelligent design.
In addition to the peculiar formations in the Cydonia Region,
a second site now identified as Star City contains a complex structure that some believe are the
walls of a very large artificially constructed building. The area also is close to something that looks like tubes and tunnels
peeking out from openings in the planet’s surface.
Perhaps the latest discovery has been an image of a large rectangular
object jutting straight up from the surface. What is shocking is that it bears a striking resemblance to the monoliths planted
on Earth and the moon in the classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Yet another mystery has been the discovery of a number of massive
50 to 80-foot-wide boulders scattered in a cluster on a wide flat plain. The boulders are dark which makes them stand out
on the light-colored landscape. Geologists have no explanation for these huge rocks that are so out-of-place.
Before the United States went into deep deficit spending and
the NASA budget was severely reduced, the agency was working to produce new spacecraft in preparation for a possible colonization
on Mars. But would Mars support life?
That is a question still left unanswered. The planet has been
unable to recycle its carbon dioxide to maintain a greenhouse effect, thus it has a very thin atmosphere. There is very little
oxygen. The climate is extreme, with temperatures ranging from as high as 80 degrees to as low as over -220 degrees Fahrenheit. The winds can be extreme, stirring up massive dust storms that last for months.
Mars, today, is not an inviting place for humans to think of
living. The very suggestion of establishing a sealed colony there would depend upon its ability to find and utilize water
and to produce food. air and fuel from sources found on Mars.
So if there are ancient ruins of buildings on Mars, how could
this have happened?
Scientists say that early in its history Mars was much more like
Earth. There is evidence that the planet once had seas, rivers and other elements that would support life. There has been
a discovery that water may still exist under the surface, and some kind of vegetation may grow at the poles.
There is a theory that life sprang up on Mars, much as it did
on Earth, and that it evolved to a level of intelligence comparable to ours. Some say the human race may even have originated
on Mars, and that our ancestors fled to Earth after a catastrophic event destroyed the planet. This might explain the humanoid
face peering out of the vast fields at Caldonia, and the pyramids that look much like the ancient structures that exist all
over the Earth.
The troublesome fact that we have now overpopulated Earth, developed
our technology to a point where we not only are building great monuments all over this landscape, polluting our soil, seas
and air to a point where many scientists warn of a runaway global warming, and that we have military weapons so powerful we
can destroy our planet at the push of a button, suggests that we may be repeating what those Martian ancestors did to their
home so long ago.
The haunting question is that if we go extinct, will Earth look
much like the barren rocky planets we now observe when we look closely at Mars and Venus?
Indeed, if our origins began on Mars and we escaped to Earth
after destroying that environment, why did we not learn a valuable lesson? The ancient stories all stress a warning that we
were instructed to be good stewards of the Mother Earth. But we failed to do this.
So where will we run when Earth becomes uninhabitable? This planet
may have been our last great hope.