The Glass Tube of Mars
In February 2001 Arthur C. Clarke, renowned scientist and author, made the following comment during an interview with Space.com.
“I’m fairly convinced that we have discovered life on Mars,” Clarke told Space.com Sunday as Buzz Aldrin listened. “There are some incredible photographs from [the Jet Propulsion Laboratory], which to me are pretty convincing proof of the existence of large forms of life on Mars! Have a look at them. I don’t see any other interpretation.”
Arthur C. Clarke
What in the other world was Clarke talking about? The Mars Surveyor spacecraft has taken thousands of photographs of Mars. A surprising number have never been examined. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA released some 57,000 of these unexamined photos, and various scientists have been pouring over them on their own. One such photo caught the eye of Richard Hoagland, known for his advocacy of the view that an ancient civilization may have left artifacts of its existence on Mars. The photo (click here to see Mars Surveyor Image M0400291) shows what appears to be a tube of some kind, which has appeared in an eroded area of an ancient seabed.
The land area seen in the full image is about 20 miles by 2 miles. The portion of the tube exposed, more clearly seen in the blown-up image, is about 1.5 miles long and perhaps 100 meters in diameter. It appears to be translucent, as though made of glass. It has circular markings, perhaps support structures, at regular intervals. The idea that it may be naturally occurring ice is apparently ruled out by the temperature at this region of Mars. So what is it?
In an earlier talk to the Planetary Society in December 2000, Arthur Clarke referred to “worms” in the photo. But of course no one knows for sure what the structure is. Speculation ranges from nothing significant to the remnant shell of an underground transportation tunnel. One design for a moon-based Mag-Lev mass driver, for launching material and ships from the moon, envisions a track with regularly spaced circular structures for transmitting magnetic energy.
It is at least fun to think about.