Cydonia’s ‘Face on Mars’ in 3D animation
European Space Agency
23 October 2006
Recently, ESA’s Mars Express delivered photos of the famous ‘Face on
Mars’ in the Cydonia region. The High Resolution Stereo Camera images
are some of the most spectacular views of the Red Planet ever taken.
Now, there’s a stunning 3D animation of the area.
The High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) science team have produced a
dramatic 3D animation that beautifully simulates a flight over the
Cydonia ‘Face on Mars’, one of the most famous surface features on the
The movie sequence was produced through a combination of digital data
from the HRSC and the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) on board NASA’s Mars
Global Surveyor, in a technique similar to that used to create the
Cydonia ‘Face’ 3D still images published on the ESA portal in
The 3D animation starts looking towards the East, and finishes with a
still image looking South.
The Cydonia region lies at approximately 40.75?? North and
and is located in the Arabia Terra region on Mars, in the transition
zone between the Southern Highlands and the planet’s northern plains.
The famous ‘face’ - actually a remnant massif - was first observed in a
photo taken on 25 July 1976 by the American Viking 1 orbiter. Shortly
afterwards, a NASA press release said the formation “resembles a human
head.” At the time, NASA scientists had already correctly interpreted
the image as an optical illusion caused by the illumination angle of
Sun, the formation’s surface morphology and the resulting shadows,
giving the impression of eyes, nose and mouth. The new HRSC images
confirm again the natural origin of this geological feature.
Note to editors
The HRSC science team is led by Principal Investigator Prof. Dr Gerhard
Neukum. The team consists of 45 co-investigators from 32 institutions
and 10 nations. The systematic processing of the HRSC image data is
carried out by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), while the images
here were processed by the PI group at the Institute for Geosciences,
Freie Universitaet (Free University), Berlin, in cooperation with DLR’s
Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin.
For more information
Agustin Chicarro, ESA Mars Express Project Scientist, The Netherlands
Email: agustin.chicarro @ esa.int
Gerhard Neukum, HRSC Principal Investigator, Freie Universitaet,
Email: gneukum @ zedat.fu-berlin.de