Aligned and Equidistant Towers on Mars

NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor and other spacecraft have provided images showing a pattern of three tower-like structures on Mars. The formations are approximately 240 meters apart and are shown below.

Tower Formations in the Terra Meridiani region of Mars

Tower Formations in the Terra Meridiani Region of Mars

Source: http://viewer.mars.asu.edu/planetview/inst/moc/M0001661#P=M0001661&T=2

The formations have unusual characteristics that are:

  1. distinct – most of the surrounding terrain is devoid of sharply contrasting features,
  2. similar in size and shape,
  3. equally distant from each other, and
  4. they are aligned.

This type of formation is not unique and appears in other locations, but these three stand out in this otherwise featureless area.

towers 1000x500 with dots and lines and numbers

I added the three pixel-sized red dots in the image above to the apex of the towers. They are aligned and spaced as shown by the pixel counts between the dots.

towers 2000x1000 with grid.png

The grid on the image above is shown to provide a framework for making simple and rough approximations of the probability that these objects are natural formations that formed equidistant and aligned.

The individual grid squares are sized to contain the formations. The formation extends over 30 grid squares from the tower on the left to the tower on the right. There are 900 grid squares in this area. To to make this simple, consider that two of the towers were randomly positioned by geological processes. First, I will consider the probability that a third tower would randomly form equidistant from the center tower within this 30 by 30 grid area.

For the third tower to be equidistant from the center tower, it will have to be positioned somewhere on the red circle’s circumference. The number of grid square possibilities are:

πD = 3.14 x 30 = 94

Probability of a randomly placed tower in the area being equidistant form the center tower is:

94/900 = 0.104

To be in alignment, the third tower must be placed within the 30 grid spaces that align with the first towers. So, probability of alignment from random placing is:

30/900 = 0.033

Probability of both equal spacing and alignment is:

0.104 x 0.033 = 0.003 (3 in 1000)

Were the distinctness and similarity of the formations factored, this result would significantly reduce. In addition, had grid squares been counted for the surrounding featureless terrain, this result would be significantly reduced more.

This is an incredible anomaly so I would be interested to see analysis and discussion from NASA scientists. I want to know exact heights of the towers and get scientific assessments of the formations. The shadows in the M0001661 image are about 18 meters long. If the sunlight incidence angle is between 10 and 45 degrees, the height of the formations is between 50 and 102 meters. The base of the formations is not as wide as the shadows so these are tall towers with a high aspect ratio. A representative of the NASA/JPL High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) did share with me via Twitter that no digital terrain mapping (DTM) information is available for this area.

The towers could be natural formations. However, while the method I used to calculate the probability that they are both equidistant and aligned is simplistic, it is a reasonable approximation. So to state that the most likely explanation is that the towers are natural would be irrational. They are more likely artificial.

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