Thu, Oct 05, 2006 - Page 17 News List

Face on Mars 火星上的臉

A new "face on Mars" photograph provided by the European Space Agency in September.
歐洲太空總署九月新提供的「火星上的臉」照片。 (照片:美聯社)

PHOTO: AP

For decades, photos of a huge, face-shaped rock formation on Mars has made people wonder if there really is intelligent life on the Red Planet. But now the European Space Agency has said that the face is not really a face at all.

The face, which was first photographed by NASA's Viking 1 spacecraft more than 30 years ago, does not appear in the new, higher-resolution photos sent back by the European Space Agency's Mars Express shuttle.

The clearer picture was taken by the high-resolution stereo camera on Mars Express after multiple attempts to photograph the raised area between April 2004 and July 2006 were hampered by red dust and haze.

“You can see a lot of features that you couldn't see before,” said Michael McKay, the former flight operations director of Mars Express.

The ‘face on Mars’ photos that fired the imagination of fans of space myths around the world were first taken 30 years ago when NASA's Viking 1 spacecraft spotted the Martian landform in the shape of a head measuring nearly 3.2km from end to end.

In 1998 and 2001, new, sharper pictures of the region were taken by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and showed that what had once appeared to be a face was only a rugged landscape rather than a possible alien monument. But that didn't stop public speculation.

Even though this Martian landform did not turn out to be a sign of life on Mars, it is still interesting for scientists studying the planets. (AP)

數十年以來,火星上巨大石臉的照片一直引人好奇火星上是否真的有智慧生命。不過現在歐洲太空總署說,那張臉根本就不是臉。

三十多年前首次被美國航太總署維京1號太空船拍下的那張臉,在歐洲太空總署火星號太空梭新傳回的較高解析度照片中,卻看不出是臉。

火星號的高解析度立體照相機在二○○四年四月到二○○六年七月間曾多次嘗試拍攝這塊隆起的區域,都遭紅塵與霧霾阻礙,後來終於拍下較為清晰的照片。

火星號的前飛行任務主任麥克.麥凱說︰「你可以看到許多前所未見的特徵。」

激發全球太空神話迷想像力的「火星人面山」照片,在三十年前首度被拍下。美國航太總署維京1號當時發現了這個總長將近三點二公里的頭狀火星地形。

Today's Words 今天單字

1. attempt n.

嘗試 (chang2 shi4)

例: My attempt to learn how to rollerblade was not a success.

(我試著學習直排輪,但不成功。)

2. hamper v.t.

阻礙 (zu3 ai4)

例: Jane's efforts to go running everyday were hampered by bad weather.

(珍想每日努力慢跑,卻因天候不佳受阻。)

3. rugged adj.

崎嶇不平的 (qi2 qu1 bu4 ping2 de5)

例: Kevin lives in the mountains because he loves the rugged outdoor life.

(凱文住在山上,因為他熱愛原始的戶外生活。)

4. speculation n.

猜測 (cai1 ce4)

例: We heard Caitlin might be getting married soon, but that's just speculation.

(我們聽說凱特琳可能快結婚了,但不過是揣測罷了。)


一九九八年到二○○一年間,美國航太總署火星環球探勘者號拍下了這區更新、更明亮的照片,顯示一度看起來像臉的東西,不過是凹凸不平的地形,不太可能是外星人的遺跡。不過,那停止不了大眾揣測。

儘管這塊火星地形最後並非代表火星上有生命,對研究行星的科學家來說還是饒富興味。

(美聯社/翻譯︰賴美君)

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