Friday, February 21, 2014

Excited about aliens on the Moon and Mercury? Here’s the kind of detail you should be looking for.

IF there were alien objects in our solar system, this is how we’d find them. With recent wild claims of secret bases being found on the Moon and monumental artworks of human heads — not to mention alien buildings — on Mercury, the prospect of such Earth-shattering discoveries is high on people’s minds. The common feature of many of these claims is the blurry and overly-contrasted images. Amid the blocks black-and-white images, it’s easy for the imagination to run wild. But the cameras now in orbit around many of our solar system’s planets offer far better views. And they’ve shown us that we really can see structures and vehicles — if they exist. This week, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped a doozy.
It had all the elements a trained eye would expect: A trail. An unusual metallic object. In this case it was the Mars Opportunity Rover. And NASA knew it was there. But it demonstrates just how detailed the view of our neighbouring planets can be today. Opportunity is 1.6m long by 2.3m wide. Its wheels leave six 30cm wide tracks in the sand. But that’s not all.
Many such man-made objects have been seen on Mars. In June last year the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped a picture of an unusual object blowing in the Martian wind. It was the yellow parachute used to deliver the $2.5 billion Curiosity rover in August 2012. Which is when an even more dramatic event was captured. The parachuting of the Curiosity probe to the surface itself. Without excessive zoom, the probe was caught dangling beneath the yellow canopy as it swung down to its designated landing point. But it’s not all crisply defined edges and full-colour imagery.
When NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped a picture of the Moon back in January, another probe photo-bombed the image. NASA’s LADEE moon dust probe flashed past beneath it at almost 1600km per second. It was just 9km away. The picture (which was no accident) helps expose the limitations of capturing a clear image of a UFO mid-flight. But massive multi-story structures which fill craters are another matter altogether. We should be able to clearly see the UFOs parked in their backyards.
Unfortunately, there is no such detail showing in the hyped secret Moonbase and Mercury “discoveries”. The very fact they are as blurry and distorted as they are is what allows us to see what we want among the smears and shadows. Once a camera actually zeros in on these scenes, the outcome will most likely be the same as for the 1970s “Face on Mars”: All the excitement will collapse in a pile of rubble and dust. So remember: Seeing isn’t always believing.
Source: AU

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