Probing the Mystery of Spirit’s Censors

An article in last week’s Sun newspaper was entitled “NASA: Evidence of Life on Mars”. The piece opens very confidently:

NASA scientists last night unveiled compelling evidence of life on Mars.

A special mission to the Red Planet has revealed the likely presence of a form of pond scum – the building blocks of life as we know it.

NASA unveiled the results of the recent Opportunity and Spirit probes sent millions of miles through the solar system to discover signs of extraterrestrial life.

Sadly, NASA reacted quickly and explained that the newspaper must have simply misunderstood the results their scientists had presented.

It got me wondering, though… In my Curiosity of Spirit document I was forced to admit that Rich and I were never able to figure out just what was being censored in the images from Spirit. We couldn’t see anything worth suppressing in the thumbnails they were using to make the determination. We wondered if perhaps they were using some special filters to process the images to bring out subtle artificial or organic patterns in the image. Rich and I made a few attempts with various guessed filter settings, but we gave up as we saw nothing obviously unfamiliar pop out of the thumbnails.

I now begin to wonder if perhaps The Sun accidentally misunderstood it correctly. What if Spirit really had photographed something akin to “pond scum”. What if those mysterious persons who were looking at the Spirit thumbnails transmitted over the faster than light connection to Earth were using filters to process the images which would make organic material coating certain portions of rocks more visible. Rich and I unaided would have likely missed the discolorations, and thus their significance. I am increasingly convinced this may be the right answer to the mystery; it fits the facts so neatly.

It would be a far easier case to prove with the images (and regions) they suppressed, but if we assume they accidentally let a few images slip through, then there is still a chance; the thumbnails would surely have been hard to work with, there’s no way they could have noticed everything.

If anyone reading is available to assist in the analysis of the Spirit imagery, testing various filter settings to see if we can draw out possible organic features, please contact me.


10 Responses to Probing the Mystery of Spirit’s Censors

  1. macproguy says:

    Well the other day I read an interesting white paper by dr. Neal Krawetz

    Click to access bh-usa-07-krawetz-wp.pdf

    on digital forensics like error level analysis and other ways of detecting image manipulation.

    You might try contacting him with this question, web [at] hackerfactor [dot] com.

    • Hmm… Haven’t been able to successfully read it yet. Will try again later.

      For those security and anonymity minded folks: only view PDFs using an online PDF viewer, NOT the Adobe Acrobat plugin or downloadable. Google’s Viewer usually works pretty well for this:


      • pati says:

        Can you please detail what are the dangers to anonymity if i view pdf files on my computer. I know they cand contain malicious code, but if i use an updated antivirus, how can they track me?

      • My warning was a little too vague. My concern is focused on the situation where some person or entity might be specifically targeting another person or group to try and identify them. No offense to the helpful commenter who posted the PDF link, but I must take precautions, and consider the possibility that someone may be posting a link or document in order to get at my identity. All software has bugs, some of which (such as buffer overflow attacks) can be a vector for executing arbitrary code. Some bugs are disclosed or discovered, many remain undisclosed but perhaps not undiscovered. Directly reading a PDF would increase my risk however much, so in this situation I read it through an online converter. If I come across some interesting PDF in the course of my research into these unusual topics, I use the online converter as well, in case the document is a honey pot. But, if I needed to read a PDF instructional manual for my new television, I’d go ahead and read it directly as a PDF with the Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in (and antivirus protection).


      • macproguy says:

        I do see what you mean with the adobe pdf code execution attack. I never use the adobe reader as on the platforms I use it is slow compared to the built in pdf reader as well as the numerous bugs that adobe hasn’t fixed.

        I can see how a targeted attack across a vector whether it be a pdf or a flash plugin could jeopardize your anonymity. And I did not intend it in that way at all, but privacy and security are key.

  2. D says:

    I have a hard time trying to understand why they would go so such great lengths to censor “pond scum” or similar life on Mars, what harm could it possibly do to make facts like that public? I could maybe understand if there were signs of higher intelligence at work but even then I have trouble finding solid reasons why they would hide such a thing from mankind, I doubt panic would ensue. Do you have any insight into this?

    • John Martin says:

      Even the discovery of pond scum would up-end the belief systems of the major religions on this planet and would severely challenge the religious dogma.
      Once a paradigm shift(in religion and science)has happened, it is difficult to go back and change it.
      So the military industrial complex and institutions of religion such as the Vatican have probably entered into agreement to keep the status quo.
      It is easy to think that the masses would understand, but religious doctrine is deeply rooted in some cultures and is used as a means to control people and to give certain people control.

  3. D says:

    The Vatican acknowledge that aliens could exist, so does Islam so it is within their belief systems, also many other old religions speak of what could be interpreted as aliens and some even claim that humans are created by aliens. And I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that the majority of people on earth believe in extraterrestrial life, so the discovery of pond-scum would certainly not throw world religions into chaos.

    • While I cannot say whether or not the world would be thrown into chaos if simple forms of life were discovered elsewhere, I believe there is a greater risk than you suspect. You are correct, the Vatican is far more open than they were when they killed people for suggesting the Earth was not at the center of our solar system. And the Europeans seem to have established a healthy relationship with their faiths including Catholicism, but I believe the United States suffers for its heavy influence of the Biblical literalists who would be wholly unprepared to accept that life could have begun elsewhere. They would suppress the information if they could, and if they couldn’t the information would be viewed as one of the great lies that comes in the End of Days.


      • rei says:

        Is it because I’m not in the southern US that this seems to me to be a rather trivial reason to censor information that would surely ensure buttloads of funding for JPL and NASA?

        If national security is their business, incentives for money being poured into research with potential military applications can’t possibly be a bad thing.

        I’m not religious myself, but if the risk is as great as you say it is, it would explain why people are so upset about Christianity these days — though I would still contend that those same stubborn people would be just as stubborn even without the assurance of religion. Those people are fundamentally incapable of dealing with cognitive dissonance not because they’re religious, but because they’re all around uneducated and have seldom been forced to exercise critical thought.

        Hope you’re doing better, and hopefully your selfless sleuthing won’t have been in vain.

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