On Dreamland's June 2, 2001 edition, Dr. Tom Van Flandern, author of Dark Matter Missing Planets and New Comets, said that recent Mars Orbiter photos appear to show images of vegetation on Mars, and even possible structures.
Now noted writer Arthur C. Clarke, in a speech at the Werner von Braun Memorial Lecture series held in Washington, D.C. on June 6, has stated that he believes that new images of Mars clearly show the red planet dotted with patches of vegetation, including trees. He spoke over the telephone from his home in Sri Lanka to an audience at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.
Clarke was able to study images taken by the Mars Global Surveyor, which is still in orbit, on his home computer and said that there are evident signs of vegetation on the planet. ?I?m quite serious when I say have a really good look at these new Mars images,? Clarke said. ?Something is actually moving and changing with the seasons that suggests, at least, vegetation.? He pointed to photos of apparent trees. Dr. Van Flandern has pointed out that these objects, 300 feet across at their crowns, appear to gain and lose foliage with the seasons.
At an earlier time, Clarke had this to say about Mars: ?Many years ago I wrote a tongue-in-cheek essay Report on Planet Three in which a Martian observer decided that Earth was unsuitable for life because of its high temperature and poisonous (yes, poisonous) oxygen atmosphere.
?The recent discovery of life in the most improbable places, especially far down inside the Earth?s crust, has now convinced me that we have been equally short-sighted. Some of the amazing images from the Mars Surveyor?make me ninety-five percent sure that there are extensive areas of vegetation?or its equivalent?on Mars.
?I?m still waiting for a good explanation of that colossal ?sandworm.? Last week I showed it to Brian Herbert when he visited Colombo: maybe it will give him ideas for the next Dune novel.?
He?s skeptical about signs of intelligent life on the planet. ?As for the suggestions that there may be artifacts on Mars, I am very skeptical: the demolition of the infamous ?Face? should be a warning to the over-credulous. Mother Nature is capable of the most amazing tricks?Nevertheless, such an investigation is fully justified, even if the chances of success are remote.?
He hopes that human beings can walk on Mars before too long. ?I think there?s a real possibility there may be a propulsion breakthrough,? he said. ?The rocket is going to play the same role in space as the balloon did in aviation. It will be superseded by something much better.?
Eventually there will be human colonies there, but Clarke sees one problem. ?I?m afraid the great, great grandchildren won?t be very happy back here on Earth at three times normal gravity.?
JPL Planetologists have speculated that the trees are frost features of some sort, because they appear in Mars' southern polar region. The one pictured above is 300 feet across and forty to fifty feet high. No explanation has been offered regarding the way in which these object seem to shed and regain foliage with the seasons, or for the many other features on the planet that change in the same way.
Insight: the presence of living organisms on Mars as complex as trees would be astonishing indeed, but these images are just as convincing as Mr. Clarke claims. It would be as if a tree could live at an altitude of thirty miles, nearly at the edge of space, in conditions that, at their best, were the equivalent of the antarctic winter. These are the conditions imposed by the thin atmosphere and low temperatures on the surface of Mars. If complex biology is indeed living there, it must be structured in truly astonishing ways.
For a collection of the world's best Mars websites, go to Unknowncountry.com's 'Other Websites' area and scroll down to the Mars section.
To examine Tom van Flandern's collection of Mars anomaly satellite photos, click here.
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