The Island Fort
The visible light and infra-red images of Mars Odyssey's THEMIS camera are proving useful in discovering a number of anomalies that were not apparent in Viking imagery - and which the Mars Global Surveyor's (MGS) narrow, high resolution image strips are poorly suited for discovering.
A case in point is the recently published THEMIS visible light image that captured the "Cliff", (µµµ). The "Cliff" is actually a 1.5 mile long wall along the top of a flat topped mesa and was successfully targeted by the MGS to reveal possible structural details, (click "stargate" µµµ). The THEMIS image also captured an extremely interesting formation sitting atop a roughly triangular shaped platform immediately to the north-west of the "Cliff" as shown in the context image below.
As is immediately apparent this formation is one of Cydonia's curious "collapsed mesas". The idea that this is a collapsed arcology - super building - is easy to adopt because it is difficult to credit that this and similar mesas with hollowed out centres are natural features that have eroded from the inside out. In this particular case the edges of the proposed collapsed area have interesting architectural regularities, such as the straight edges of the collapse running parallel with one another. The two times enlargement and enhancement below reveals a lot of smaller architectural looking detail around the edges of the proposed collapse, including a square shaped walled area. Unfortunately no MGS high resolution images have been released yet covering any of this formation. It is certainly a tantalising target.
Due to the appearance of this collapsed "arcology" and the platform it sits on it will be called the "Island Fort" for the purposes of Cydonia Quest. The idea that the platform may have been an actual island at one time is a distinct possibility. Since the days of the Viking programme it has been recognised that the northern plain of Mars may once have been filled with a small ocean. Now that Mars Odyssey has discovered that there is oceans of water frozen within the Martian regolith, it is almost certain that this was the case when Mars had a more blanketing atmosphere (µµµ). Recent research on the tendency of the Martian polar axial tilt to shift erratically has revealed that Mars was likely to have been a warmer and more watery place as little as five million years ago, (click "stargate" µµµ). Maybe further discoveries will bring periods of major Martian thawing even closer to the present day.
Now it is interesting that the shores of the proposed ancient Martian ocean lap up to the edges of Cydonia anomalies such as the "City" and the D&M Pyramid. The area immediately to the North of these places would have been filled with a shallow sea, coastal swamp or low lying areas subject to regular flooding. If the proposed "Island Fort" arcology co-existed with a watery period on Mars then it may have sat on an actual island, as would anomalies such as the "Cliff" and "Face". The island on which the "Island Fort" sits may possibly be artificial (much like the Dutch polders) enabling the hypothetical inhabitants to enjoy a scenic location. The recreation below of a watery Cydonia (taken from Martin Keitel's website µµµ) gives some idea of what such a scene would look like. Readers are also advised to browse Kees Veenebos's recreations of Mars in its oceanic period by clicking this "stargate" µµµ.
Mars Odyssey's 100 metre resolution infra-red camera has also proven adept at finding possible collapsed arcologies. The one below has already been identified in an article on the first daytime infra-red image of Cydonia to be released (µµµ). As it is in the south of Cydonia and has a fort like appearance it will be referred to in Cydonia Quest as the "South Fort" from now on. Mars Odyssey is imaging the whole of Mars so we will be able to see it at a much better 19 metre resolution soon.
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