Martian Irrigation Canals
As bizarre as it may seem now, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was commonly believed that there were artificial canals on Mars. The rumor started in 1877 when Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli observed long, linear features on Martian surface through his telescope. He named the features "canali," which translates to "channels" or "canals" in Italian. Schiaparelli did not intend for the term to be interpreted as "artificial" canals; he actually meant simply "narrow waterways." But the coined phrase took on a life of its own, and some people even believed that Martian intelligent life had constructed a canal system to bring water from the polar regions to its cities.
Astronomer Percival Lowell was a strong proponent of this theory, and he envisioned Mars as a planet laced with engineered waterways and canals. Because straight lines don't typically appear in nature, Lowell rationalized, they could only have been made by an intelligent civilization. In 1909, a Greek astronomer named E.M. Antoniadi used an 83-centimeter telescope to observe Mars when it was in opposition to the Earth, which is the best time to observe a planet. He concluded that the canals were an optical illusion, and the Martian canal theory slowly began to lose support.
Metal Bridges on the Moon
The "bridge" was, of course, an illusion created by lighting conditions and shadows on the Moon's surface. The myth was finally put to rest when the Apollo missions obtained photographs of the region.
The "Face" on Mars
The Mars Face mania became so intense that when the Mars Global Surveyor arrived at Mars in the late 1990s, NASA instructed mission scientists to reprogram the spacecraft so that it could look in the direction of "the face" and take the highest resolution photograph possible. The resulting images confirmed that the "face" was indeed an eroded mesa that, at certain times of the day, looked like a face due to shadows created by gullies in the eroded rock. In fact, the "face" is only one of thousands of similar mesas, buttes, and ridges in the Cydonia region.
The Incan City on Mars
In 2002, scientists solved the mystery while analyzing images taken by the Mars Orbiter Camera. The images revealed that the ridges of "Inca City" were part of a larger circular structure, which is likely a large, ancient impact crater on Mars.
There have been lots of studies done to show that people are always looking for familiar patterns and faces in things. It's in our nature to do it. We are programmed to do it and get excited when we find possible matches. The guardian of the badlands image from Google Earth is another example. We love this stuff.
I grew up familiar with the face on Mars photo and all the hype that went with it. I had thought it to be a rock, but was a bit let down when it was proven to be just a rock. Wouldn't it have been something though if it was a fallen statue face that had came back in that hi-res image...
Just Jesus? Heck, no! If you look real closely, you can see that he is holding a lamb.
But in the next cloud over, Shiva and Wotan are flipping him the bird, so it's all good.
I'm sure I've even seen a space cloud that looks like Anubis lifting his leg on a fire plug.
And let's not forget the famous photo of Sauron's eye, which was apparently blue, despite what the movie would have you believe ...