Mars Anomaly Research
|Some dare call it|
“”But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.
Mars Anomaly Research is a crank website which claims that NASA and ESA[wp] have been doctoring space image data for many years, in an attempt to cover up the truth: that Mars and other bodies in the solar system are actually much more similar to the Earth than we are being told. The site is administered by one J. P. Skipper, who believes that Mars, the Moon, and various moons of outer planets are inhabited by a wide variety of alien lifeforms, including several advanced civilizations. The bulk of his "evidence" consisted of weirdly-shaped shadows which, with the right brightness/contrast settings, look exactly like farms, buildings, giant (we're talking miles wide) trees, or deliberate airbrushing of key features by the evil scientists. Skipper's theories were based on the idea that no information gathered by space probes is passed to the general public without inspection by "the authorities," who censor and obfuscate all evidence which contradicts their "illusion" of desiccated, cold, empty worlds. How they could keep such a scheme secret is never examined in detail.
Most of this stuff is laughable, but a few images are, at first glance, pretty astonishing: the Hale crater images had one editor scratching his chin for a few days before realizing that the original is not a photo, but a digital elevation model.[wp] A common thread involved instances where multiple images of varying quality were stitched together; the blurrier areas are considered "proof" of deliberate airbrushing. The entire site is based on Skipper's ignorance of the differences between his own eyesight and scientific instruments operating millions of miles away.
Claims such as these denigrate the work of those who are trying to learn about the real Mars. There are thousands of dedicated scientists for whom the discovery of Martian life would be the pinnacle of their careers, the greatest advance in human knowledge of our time. To suggest that these people, including the late Carl Sagan, would intentionally obfuscate evidence of this, is deeply disturbing.
 Orbital imagery
Much of the evidence presented regards satellite photography by spacecraft such as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Skipper claims to see distinct evidence of life in what are, in reality, simple geologic features: a series of dark smudges become a lush forest; fields of sand dunes become a giant colony of... things. Skipper loves to show microscope imagery of Earthly life side-by-side with orbital photos of the Martian surface, noting incidental similarities.
 Don't bomb the moon!
In October 2009, NASA's LCROSS spacecraft impacted a crater near the Moon's south pole, in search of possible deposits of water ice. Skipper was vehemently opposed to this action, as he believed it was possible the "attack" would agitate the "lunar civilization," possibly starting a war.
Of course, meteors hit the moon all the time, and they go one hell of a lot faster. Since the impact, there have been zero signs of any such civilization attacking Earth.
 The end?
Sometime around mid-February 2013, the site disappeared, causing its usual audience to start puzzled threads on fringe forums like Above Top Secret and Godlike Productions. Apparently, it's a hosting problem, as the domain registration expires in 2014. According to a rumour, Skipper has suffered a broken hip and is temporarily unable to tend to the site. If that's true, it's likely that the site will be back once he recovers.
As of late 2013, it appears to be back up. Great.