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Since discovery in 1981, a gigantic and enigmatic face gazing upward from the Cydonia region of Mars has held out the tantalizing promise of scientific proof that intelligent life in the universe is not unique to Earth. Though photographed from satellite five years earlier, the face had gone officially unnoticed, so space expert Richard Hoagland (author of The Monuments of Mars) and his associates, including many top scientists and engineers who felt anything but optimistic about the chances for an effective official follow-up, proceeded to launch their own investigation. The photos of the Face on Mars and an apparent complex of ruins nearby were subjected to years of exhaustive research. Utilizing the most advanced tools of scientific analysis, The Mars Mission, as the group terms itself, has produced more than enough evidence to argue plausibly that the objects of Cydonia are not only the remains of an ancient civilization, but one possessed of a science and technology well beyond our own.

The startling possibility that such artifacts exist has created considerable public pressure to return to the red planet, and was cause for more than a little consternation in the summer of 1993 when NASA lost contact with its Mars Observer probe just as it was about to begin a detailed photographic survey which could have proved the issue, one way or the other.

How long now must we wait until the argument can be tested? Well, perhaps not too long after all. As it turns out, the cherished concrete evidence that man is not alone in the universe may well exist in our own back yard, relatively speaking. Within the past two years, the Hoagland group claims to have discovered in numerous NASA photographs evidence of ancient civilization on our closest neighbor, the moon. And in this case, if NASA isn't up to the verification job, Hoagland insists that he and his backers are. The result could be, sometime within the next few months, the first privately funded mission to the Moon.

If anybody can pull it off, Hoagland may be the man. For more than 25 years a recognized authority on astronomy and space exploration, Hoagland has served as a consultant for all of the major broadcast networks. Among his many valued contributions to history and science, the best remembered is probably his conception, along with Eric Burgess, of Mankind's First Interstellar Message in 1971: an engraved plaque carried beyond the solar system by the first manmade object to escape from the Sun's influence, Pioneer 10. Hoagland and Burgess originally took the idea to Carl Sagan, who successfully executed it aboard the spacecraft, and subsequently acknowledged their creation in the prestigious journal Science. It was Hoagland who proposed the Apollo 15 experiment in which Astronaut David Scott, before a worldwide TV audience, simultaneously dropped a hammer and a falcon feather to see if it was true, as Galileo predicted, that both would land at the same time. Once again Galileo was vindicated. Since the 1981 discovery of the Face on Mars Hoagland had devoted most of his time to the pursuit of scientific evidence for extraterrestrial intelligence.

We caught up with him the day after Hollywood's latest space epic Stargate had opened nationwide to enormous audiences. Since the film deals with the idea of extraterrestrial intervention in Earth's history, we wanted to know what portents, if any, he saw. The problem with the movie, Hoagland offered, is that the vehicle for anything interesting isn't there after the first half-hour. It disintegrated into a kind of shoot-em-up with an awful lot of ends totally unfulfilled. But the film's quality, or lack of it, notwithstanding, Hoagland is encouraged by the public reception. The fact that people are rushing to see this indicates to me there is almost an archetypal compulsion to know more, and if we put together the right vehicle, which we are attempting to do, we may have a ready audience.

Hoagland was alluding to a couple of possible film projects now in the talking stages based on the Mars and Moon work. The outcome, hopefully, will be both a scientific documentary and a fictionalized treatment presenting some of the more speculative aspects of the research. Such matters, though, are not his primary concern.

Uppermost in Hoagland's mind and those of his associates are recent discoveries on the moon. In clear NASA photos, some nearly 30 years old, from both manned and unmanned missions, from orbiters and landers, can be seen giant structures unexplainable by any known geology, what Hoagland calls architectural stuff.

In sharp contrast to the Mars data, where we have been constrained to look at two or three pictures of the Cydonia region with increasingly better technology, 3D tools, color, polarametric, and geometric measurements, with the moon we are data rich. We have literally thousands, if not millions of photographs.

Yet with pictures taken from many directions and many different lighting conditions, angles and circumstances of every kind, Hoagland's team has produced stunning corroboration that all the photos are of the same highly geometric, highly structural, architectural stuff. In fact, he says In many cases, the architects on our team now are able to recognize the standard Buckminster Fuller tetrahedal truss, a hexagonal (six-sided) design, with cross bars for bracing. I mean, we're looking at standard engineering, though obviously not created by human beings. The structures appear to be very ancient, battered to hell by meteors...it looks like it had gone through termite school. It's been motheaten and shattered and smashed by countless bombardments. The edges are soft and fuzzy because of micro meteorite abrasions like a sand blasting.

Hoagland explains that on an airless world there's nothing to impede a meteor from reaching the surface or reaching a structure on the ground. Nevertheless, we're seeing a prodigious amount of structural material. Spread over a wide area the material is turning up at several locations. It looks as if we're seeing fragments of vast, contained enclosures, domes, although they are not inverted salad bowls. They are much more geometric, more like the step pyramids of the Biosphere II in Arizona. We're looking at something which is extraordinarily ancient left by someone not of this earth, not of this solar system, but from someplace else.

One of the most interesting structures appears to be an enormous free-standing tower, a crystalline glass-like partially preserved structure, a kind of a megacube, standing on remnants of a supporting structure roughly seven miles over the southwest corner of a central part of the moon called the Sinus Medii region.

If all of this exists, one of the most important questions may be: Why didn't NASA notice? If Hoagland is right, Something funny has been going on. Indeed.

Recently Hoagland presented the Lunar material at Ohio State University. In the months since, discussions have raged on the Internet, Prodigy, Compuserve and other on-line computer services. Many questions now being put to him are coming from scientists and engineers within NASA, many of whom have had direct experience with the lunar program, yet who have been kept in the dark regarding any ET evidence. Hoagland has passed on the present state of the research and asked for input, and he's left with the inescapable impression that something incredible has been missed.

As Hoagland sees it, there are only two possible explanations: Either we're dealing with incredible dumbness, in which case we spent billion for nothing because we went there, took photographs, came home and didn't realize what we were seeing. Or we're dealing with the careful manipulation of the many by the few. The latter may not be as implausible as it might at first sound. If you're in a system which is corner-stoned on honesty, integrity, openness, full disclosure, he explains, and there are folks in there who are operating contrary to those precepts, they won't get caught because no one is suspicious.

Actually Hoagland has moved beyond suspicion to belief, and he says he can prove his point. The smoking gun is a report by the Brookings Institution commissioned by NASA at its inception in 1959. Entitled Proposed Studies on the Implications of Peaceful Space Activities for Human Affairs, the study examines the impact of NASA discoveries on American society 10, 20, 30 years down the road. On page 215 it discusses the impact of the discovery of evidence of either extra-terrestrial intelligence, i.e., radio signals or artifacts left by that intelligence on some other body in the solar system. The report names three places that NASA might expect to find such artifacts, the Moon, Mars or Venus. It then goes on to discuss the anthropology, the sociology, the geo-politics of such a discovery. And it makes the astounding recommendation that for fear of social dislocation and the disintegration of society, NASA might wish to consider NOT telling the American people. It's right there in black and white. It recommends censorship. Now that's what they've been doing. Hoagland believes that anthropologist Margaret Mead, one of the authors of the report, was responsible for the recommendation, which he believes came out of her experience in American Samoa. In the 1940s Mead witnessed the devastation of primitive societies exposed for the first time to sophisticated Western civilization. That experience so moved her, so changed her perspectives that when she examined the whole ET possibility, she projected and mapped on that experience. She basically felt that if we even learned of the existence of extra-terrestrials it could destroy us, therefore people can't be told.

Believing as he does that NASA and perhaps even higher levels of government have been committed to keeping people in the dark regarding the realities of extraterrestrial intelligence, Hoagland is not very sanguine about the chances of success for such high-profile programs as SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). They are a complete, absolute farce. They are a false front Western town. They do not mean what they purport to mean. They are a red herring. They are a bone to the Star Trek generation. In fact, Hoagland has become so dubious of government intentions on such matters that he suspects the entire alien abduction phenomenon is a misinformation campaign calculated to scare people off the subject. If there has been a policy to obfuscate and confuse people on behalf of the objective data, he reasons, what would that policy do and how far would it extend to the idea of ET contact? If you had a few real contacts with someone who was trying to give us messages and trying to lead us to new insights and the fear on the part of government structure had been that this will destroy civilization itself, would not that government also put in place a program to misinform, to confuse, to politically spin in the wrong direction those few real contacts by submerging them in a sea of misinformation about contacts?

Part of the evidence for benign extraterrestrial contact, Hoagland sees in the crop circle phenomenon. The thing that makes them different from the monuments of Mars or the ancient cities on the moon, he reasons, is that they are occurring in the crop field here on earth and they are occurring in the present time. He sees little doubt that the circles are not of this world. We simply do not have the technology, let alone the knowledge base, to construct the multileveled communication symbols that the crop circles represent. So that once you eliminated the hoaxers.... He chuckles, If Doug and Dave hoaxed the circles, they deserve a Nobel prize. Hoagland resumes his thought. The level of sophistication of the information encoded in these symbols is so vast and so congruent with the lunar and Mars work that you're forced to conclude that whoever the artists are, they know a bit more than contemporary science, and/or the media or, for that matter, the government.

At any rate, Hoagland's group is now planning an end run around the government's monopoly on ET-related space exploration information. The time has come, he believes, for a privately funded mission to the moon. Already investors have expressed interest. We're talking a few tens of millions of dollars, not really the price for the special effects in one major motion picture. We could go to the moon and get stunning live CCD quality color television images of the things we're seeing in these 30-year-old NASA still pictures, still frames. Such a mission, if funded, could be launched within 15 months. Using new technology and a solid fueled rocket, a 500 to 600 lb. payload could be delivered into lunar orbit where it could provide stunning camera and telescopic live transmission capabilities. The mission could even do more science. One group has expressed interest in sending a gamma ray spectrometer designed to survey the moon for water, which in Hoagland's scenario there now has to be.

The mere possibility of such a mission may already be forcing NASA to be more open. Hoagland and other members of his group have recently received a front-door invitation to view extensive previously unreleased film archives. The bureaucracy, he feels, is already moving to cover itself and forestall the eventual embarrassment of being proved out of touch, to say the least.


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