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TMA-1: The Martian Artifact

A Sign of Intelligent Life on Mars

A Martian Sculpture Depicts "The Eye of Mars"

by Robert D. Morningstar

(Copyright 2004-2006, RDM*)

"For all the World to See…"

"TMA-1: The Martian Artifact" was originally presented at The 2nd Annual Regional Mini-Technical Conference of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) held at Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD on October 30th, 2004. "TMA-1" was revised in October 2005 and September 26th - October 1st, 2006 in order to incorporate supporting material released recently by NASA/JPL under new public information policies initiated by Dr. Michael Griffin, former President of AIAA, and new Director of NASA.


"The first requirement of a scientist is that he be curious.
He should be capable of being astonished and eager to find out."

Dr. Erwin Schrodinger
(Pioneer in Quantum Mechanics and philosopher of science)

I am writing today to relate to you details of a remarkable discovery made on the planet Mars by the Mars Opportunity Rover in March 2004.

On August 9th, 2004, after nearly 5 months of study, I discovered (perhaps "recognized" is a better word) an object that was found and photographed on Mars by the Mars Opportunity Rover on March 25th, 2004. After 5 months of intensive study and scrutiny, the object was found to be an artificially created artifact, carved in relief in Martian stone in The Eagle Crater in the region called Meridiani Planum.

From the first moment that I saw it on the NASA/JPL website on March 26th, 2004, my immediate gut reaction was "My God! That looks like art!"

And so, it turned out to be.


After 4 and half months of research into the nature and origin of the object, it was on August 9th, 2004, while analyzing the NASA/JPL photo released on March 25th, 2004, that I suddenly discovered ("uncovered" might be more accurate) that the unusual object of my study was actually a sculpture, executed in a hemispherical relief, on a slab of Martian stone in the region known as Sinus Meridiani. I dubbed it TMA-1 or "The Martian Artifact."

Sinus Meridiani (situated on the Prime Meridian of Mars, hence, its name) had been chosen for the Opportunity Rover mission by NASA specifically for close-up study based on scientists' conclusion that the region was a very likely a site where, in primordial times, water had existed in great abundance. The proof of concept was found in the discovery of vast fields of hematite beads. Hematite precipitates and forms in water.

For a week or so, in early August 2004, I had been attempting to correlate and match the detailed contours depicted in TMA-1 to the Hellas Basin, which I had seen first hand the previous August. Then my colleague, Charles Fielding, and I embossed a radar altimetry map of Hellas Basin and saw that the floor of Hellas Basin did not match the floor topography of The Martian Artifact", eliminating Hellas Basin as the terrain form depicted on "TMA-1: The Martian Artifact."

In a flash, I saw my error: I had been looking at the wrong region of Mars. I quickly realized that it must surely be another region, Solis Lacus, for the area depicted on TMA-1 was far too vast to be Hellas Basin as depicted on the bas-relief sculpture in proportion to the planet.

August 2003: Viewing Mars' Closest Approach in 60,000 Years

One year before, from August 26-29th, 2003, I had viewed The Red Planet for 3 straight nights, using a 128X Super Ploessel lens and a Meade 8-inch auto-tracking telescope, during Planet Mars' closest approach to Earth in 60,000 years.

When I compared the NASA/JPL image of TMA-1 (dubbed by them "The Berry Bowl") to Mars Global Observatory images and Mariner 9 photographs, I was stunned at first to recognize the major chasms of Vallis Marinaris, which I had observed first hand during my observations, depicted in both photos and the artifact. This characteristic was far beyond the laws of chance and the features shown were so explicit that it could never be ascribed to "wishful thinking" in anyone's wildest imagination. "TMA-1: The Martian Artifact " is precisely that, "a fact", not an illusion of light and shade nor an illusion nor a hallucination of an over imaginative mind.

I sat at my computer quite stunned. "Electrified" is a more accurate description of my reaction, as there before me, I recognized the unique contours of Ophir, Candor and Mellas Chasmata, which are accurately depicted in detail in TMA-1.

"The Martian Artifact" is, indeed, quite simply, "a artifact of Life."

The object, called "The Berry Bowl" by NASA/JPL and nicknamed "TMA-1" by this researcher, appears to me to be a bas-relief sculpture, depicting the most significant geographical and geological features of the planet Mars, itself, called by astronomers, "The Eye of Mars." Astronomers had observed "The Eye of Mars" regularly for many years but it remained an unexplained phenomenon until now. The first one to see it was Percival Lowell working at Kit Peak Observatory.

TMA-1. "The Martian Artifact," captures the topography of Mars in 3-dimensional relief, including an extremely accurate depiction of the Valles Marinaris, with its long, winding twin trench canyons called Ius and Tithoneus. It delineates the contours of Ophir, Candor and Mellas Chasmas, as well as, the adjacent region, Solis Lacus, which in darkness forms the pupil of "The Eye of Mars." TMA-1 renders the topography of unique ridges, mounds, valleys and the steeply incline slopes and palisades of surrounding of regions named "Syria" and "Sinai" by NASA.

From the first sight of "The Berry Bowl" back on March 25th, to my own eyes, the object's design, rounded form, and convoluting contours within a perfect circular pattern, instantly (and intuitively) conveyed to me a single and, literally, "earth-shaking" idea:

"My God! That looks like Art!"

Furthermore, in studying "The Berry Bowl" over a 5-month long period, its exquisite forms and contours emerged and revealed it to be an intelligently designed and sculptured 3-dimensional artifact.

Comparing it with Mariner 9 photomaps, I discerned the same steep slopes of Syria depicted in the computer images, showing the same meteor impact craters registered in the Mariner photomap. I could also make out the precipitous and winding palisades of the region along southern Valles Marinaris, known as "Sinai." TMA-1 even depicts the smaller impact craters, which are found in several areas in the slopes of Syria and the cliffs of Sinai.

Story continues on Page 2.

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