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From The Daily Mail:

But now an American 'armchair astronaut' claims to have discovered a mysterious structure on the surface of the red planet - by looking on Google earth. David Martines, whose YouTube video of the 'station' has racked up over 200,000 hits so far, claims to have randomly uncovered the picture while scanning the surface of the planet one day. Describing the 'structure' as a living quarters with red and blue stripes on it, to the untrained eye it looks nothing more than a white splodge on an otherwise unblemished red landscape.

Is this evidence of a inhabitable space-station on Mars?

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    possible duplicate of Could the USA have a secret colony on mars? – ratchet freak Sep 24 '13 at 10:32
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    If you were trying to hide a colony on Mars would you paint the roof of it red, white and blue? – Ladadadada Sep 24 '13 at 11:22
  • Given the amount of crap on not just youtube but google earth, you can "prove" just about anything using the combination. Looking at the pictures, there's nothing to see there, certainly no red and blue stripes. And of course "the untrained eye" means "anyone who's not a conspiracy theorist". – jwenting Sep 24 '13 at 12:10
  • I don't see how this is a duplicate as the other link appears to be of a completely different claim. – rjzii Sep 24 '13 at 12:29
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    @rob check the edit and timestamps – ratchet freak Sep 24 '13 at 13:12
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Since this claim has been around for a couple of years now, there are several people who have provided competing theories for what this image shows.

This one includes the original image straight from the ESA rather than the one that was post-processed, colourised, rotated, recompressed and wrapped around a sphere in Google Earth.

Original shots of Mars showing capture errors.

This photo shows quite clearly that it is not a colony or a building of any sort and is the result of individual pixels being set to white. I don't know of a plausible explanation in which buildings on Mars could produce this image.

The page also provides a possible explanation for the white pixels (a data transmission glitch) and replicates the process on an aerial image of an area near the Grand Canyon by manually adding white pixels and post-processing the image the way it would be before appearing in Google Earth.

The end result looks like this:

Grand Canyon with Mars colony

Quite similar to the alleged Bio Station Alpha image.

Later still he shows another photo of the same area without any data glitch or buildings.

Bio Station Alpha area with no buildings evident.


Another article on Fox News debunking an earlier article on the same site contains this explanation:

"It looks like a linear streak artifact produced by a cosmic ray," said Alfred McEwen, a planetary geologist at the Lunar and Planetary Lab at the University of Arizona and the director of the Planetary Imaging Research Laboratory. McEwen is the principal investigator of the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), a powerful telescope currently orbiting Mars.

Cosmic rays are extremely energetic particles emitted by the sun and other stars. For the most part, the Earth's protective magnetosphere blocks them from hitting the planet's surface, McEwen explained.

"But with space images that are taken outside our magnetosphere, such as those taken by orbiting telescopes, it's very common to see these cosmic ray hits. You see them on optical images and a lot of the infrared images too," he told Life's Little Mysteries.

As a cosmic ray passes through a camera's image sensor, it deposits a large amount of its electric charge in the pixels that it penetrates. If the particle passes through at a shallow angle to the plane of the camera, it affects several pixels along its path. The result is a bright streak on the image.

The digital compression software that converts the image into a JPEG file then "sort of smears out the image, giving it that pixelated look," McEwen said. What started as a clear streak in high-resolution turns into a streak that, in the armchair astronaut's words, looks like it is "made up of cylinders."


No matter which of the data transmission glitch or the linear streak artifact theories are correct, it is not a Mars colony.

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No. (Well, it is evidence. Photos and testimony as to their interpretation are evidence by definition, but I will argue that in this case, it is not strong evidence.)

This is the photo he claims that shows a 700 foot long living structure or power station.

enter image description here

The photo contains approximately 20 bright white pixels that have been blurred or degraded by compression artifacts. In my opinion, these 20 degraded pixels are not strong enough evidence to support the conclusion that there is a space station on Mars, given the answers at Could the USA have a secret colony on Mars?

He admits these photos are not evidence of anything living there: "I'm just assuming that something lives in it or has lived in it." (Fox News)

Richard Hoagland examined the original ESA data for this region (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbmhGOqgcyQ&t=39s):

I went and found the original data. I compared the images from ESA — from the Mars Express spacecraft — with the Google Mars object in the same exact location and it appeared to be on the ESA data just a digital data dropout. Just a series of little white pixels separated by black pixels in between looking like a one-pixel picket fence.

(He goes on to claim that the extra detail seen in the Google Mars images was an intentional hoax to set up a strawman, but that's not relevant to the question here.)

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