the plains of cydonia
If you look at certain pictures of the Cydonia region of Mars, the scene is nothing less than eerie. A giant boulder that looks like a human face or a ruin of a face-shaped monument. Triangular pyramids. Faint outlines of odd, buried shapes. The whole thing looks like a massive temple complex often compared to the pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. Some ancient astronaut theorists say that it’s proof of an advanced civilization wandering around our solar system.
The Face has long been accepted to be a trick of the light and high resolution images and scans show an unremarkable Martian mesa, but if you really want to see the Face, you can trick your mind into seeing a forehead, an eye socket and a faint, crumbling half of a mouth. This is why some enthusiasts and ufologists still haven’t given up hope that Cydonia was an alien temple complex built eons ago. So for argument’s sake, let’s say that the Face on Mars was real. What would it take to build it? How old would it have to be? And who could build it?
Martians are a very improbable choice. Nobody knows just how long Mars was wet, but we know its water was ridiculously salty. As its volcanoes shut down and most of its atmosphere either drifted off or was stripped off by the solar winds, it would’ve gotten as cold as the Arctic in the winter. All this doesn’t mean that Mars was lifeless. Some bacteria and tiny animals can survive the vacuum of space, much less a cold, salty ocean slowly evaporating away. But these harsh conditions can’t support complex life. Even Earth saw its first animals appear only in the past 600 million years, when it became the calm and stable planet we know today. It took 3 billion years and the formation of a huge moon for that to happen.
So if the Martian natives couldn’t build a temple complex in Cydonia, we have to look to an alien civilization somewhere else. The rest of our solar system is way too cold for intelligent life and aliens from another solar system would need a very good reason to travel tens of trillions, if not hundreds of trillions of miles to build monuments on Mars. But this begs the question of whether aliens are as into monument building as we are. We like to leave a mark on everything we touch. To an alien culture that might be heresy or way too much work with no clear goal in sight.
It seems that even if we try to take the Face on Mars as fact, we can’t find a builder or a reason to build a giant ceremonial complex in the middle of a frozen plane covered by rusty sand. In movies, novels and cartoons, the Face is supposed to be a kind of obituary by a dying alien civilization that wants to leave behind something by which it will be remembered hundreds of millions of years after its demise. But why would their monument look like a human face? Life on Earth was just getting started and we wouldn’t be around for a long, long time. And how would anything capable of building monuments evolve in ever harsher conditions? Maybe, the odd looking hills and mesas in Cydonia are just that, odd looking rocks and dunes shaped by the winds?