In 1976, the Viking program’s orbiter and lander reached Mars, and the lander’s life experiments returned data that the scientists who had designed them had expected to see if living organisms were present in the soil. However, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, fearing that a positive finding about life on the red planet would cause their Mars funding to be diverted to the manned spaceflight program, issued various denials and succeeded in clouding the picture sufficiently to insure that robotic programs would continue.

To this day, NASA takes an extremely conservative approach to the possibility of life on Mars, but recent re-analysis of the data reveals that the original conclusion was correct: the experiment did find microbial life on Mars. But could higher life forms ever have existed there? It has been believed that, while Mars had free water in the past, it was warm and wet for too short a time for complex life forms to evolve.

A new discovery of sediment that indicates that Mars had water far longer than previously thought has re-ignited the debate about possible higher life forms, and, despite relentless debunking, there remain unanswered questions about landforms such as the Mars Face, which was first imaged by the Viking Orbiter in 1976. High resolution images taken by the Mars Global Surveyor in 2001 reveal a striking symmetry to the ridges that surround the face, which, if it was seen on Earth, would be assumed to have been built rather than formed by geologic forces.

Vince DiPietro, Gregory Molenaar and this week’s Dreamland guest Dr. John Brandenburg, studied the Mars Face and the surrounding Cydonia plain extensively, and concluded that there was reason to think that they are artificial. But the presence of structures on Mars continues to seem so impossible, that their arguments have been generally rejected by the scientific community. Their findings appear in a paper entitled the Cydonian Hypothesis, published by the Institute for Discovery Sciences.

Dr. Brandenburg, who has had a long career in atomic weapons research, further claims that isotopes present to this day in Martian soils and in the atmosphere suggest that a tremendous nuclear explosion capable of wrecking the entire planet took place in its northern hemisphere millions of years ago.