De Palma a la Mod - Mission To Mars

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Bill Fentum interviewed Brian
De Palma
upon the release of
Mission To Mars at

Ray Sawhill
Armond White
Charles Taylor
Giuseppe Puccio
Mission To Mars made
several critics' top ten
lists for the year 2000:

Armond White-New York Press
1) George Washington
2) Humanite
3) Time Regained
4) The House of Mirth
5) Orphans
6) Black and White
7) Mission to Mars
8) The Little Thief
9) Trixie
10) Pola X

White didn't elaborate on his
choices in the New York Press
article (except to say that
his "top 11" starts with the
cinematic new CD Disco Volante
by Cinerama, and that its
first single "does what a 10-best
list cannot: simultaneously give
a name to pleasure and affirm
that pleasure’s pedigree"),
but he did have this
to say in the Village Voice:
"Pola X's river of blood counts
among the three visual epiphanies
in 2000 (others were in
The House Of Mirth and
Mission To Mars). And I know
Kubrick is spinning in his grave
that he never matched it."

Godfrey Cheshire-New York Press
1) Hamlet
2) Yi-Yi (A One and a Two)
3) The Virgin Suicides
4) Humanite
5) Mission to Mars
6) Croupier
7) Requiem for a Dream
8) A Time for Drunken Horses
9) Chuck & Buck
10) Heart of the World

"It had its faults, no doubt,
but De Palma's balletic sci-fi
fantasia was the brilliantly
cinematic Hollywood movie of
the year."

Charles Taylor-Salon
1) Almost Famous
2) Mission To Mars
3) Hamlet
4) Quills
5) Yi Yi
6) The Virgin Suicides
7) Girl On The Bridge
8) Beau Travail
9) X-Men
10) O Brother, Where Art Thou?

"Brian De Palma's tender, poetic
and intimate science fiction
adventure refines and extends
themes that have obsessed him
for years..."

Cahiers Du Cinema
Critics' Collective Top 10 of 2000:
1) Esther Kahn
2) La Captive
3) Man On The Moon
4) Mission To Mars
5) In The Mood For Love
6) M/other
7) (tie) The Virgin Suicides
7) (tie) Yi Yi
9) Space Cowboys
10) Les Savates du Bon Dieu

4 out of 17 of the Cahiers
Du Cinema
editors had M2M at #2
(no one had it at the
top of their list).

Stephanie Zacharek-Salon
M2M did not make Zacharek's top
ten, but she listed it
first on her "honorable mentions"
post script.

Mission To Mars is now
available on VHS and DVD.
The DVD features a documentary
on the making of the film,
with sound bite interviews of
Brian De Palma, Tom Jacobson,
Stephen H. Burum, Paul Hirsch,
Ed Verreaux,
and others who worked
on the film. Many other features show
in detail how the film was put together,
with audio commentaries, animatics,
and script-to-screen comparisons.

Exploring Cydonia at CNN.Com
offers an easy to digest view of
Michael Malin's recently released
images of the Cydonia region of Mars.
Visitors are encouraged to take a
closer look at the high-resolution
images taken from Malin's Mars
Orbiter Camera, which has been
taking pictures aboard NASA/JPL's
Mars Global Surveyor currently
orbiting the planet.

The webmaster at SurviveMars.Com
has completed a side-by-side
comparison of the M2M screenplay
and the resulting movie. You can
check his progress by clicking here.

SFX May 2000
"Life On Mars?"
Decent article about the making
of Mission To Mars,
including interviews with producer
Tom Jacobson and ex-NASA
astronaut Story Musgrave. Jacobson
on choosing De Palma to direct
the film: "What you're looking
for in a director is something
intangible. First of all, you
look at their body of work.
What have they done before and
what are the qualities that they
might bring to the project,
based on what you've seen? I
think Brian's compositional strengths
are really strong. Also his
visual imagination, his work with
the camera. I think his work with
design, his interaction with the
production designer and the visual
effects people was very strong.
Also his sense of visual drama. And
then when you meet with a
director, you have a free,
creative exchange of ideas about
why they want to make the
movie. Basically, I'm looking for
somebody to say something that
I didn't think of. Brian
had a lot of confidence and
a lot of ideas. He's made
a lot of movies and he said,
'I know how to make this movie,
I visualize it like this.'
Basically, he excited us."
Jacobson admits that the original
script did not have anything
to do with "the face on Mars":
"We had what was described as
giant, symmetrical mound. Then,
once the sand was all blasted
off of it, it was described
as a half-spherical, although
clearly other-worldly artefact.
One that had been left behind.
One of Brian's first ideas when
he came into the room was
that it should be 'The Face
on Mars'. He said, 'It's part
of popular culture, it's fun,
something that the Mars
conspiracists all talk about,
and that's what we should use.'

So then we went into the
design aspect of the face, what
it should actually look like.
And we decided to go with a
very primitive look, with the
eye sockets and everything.
Brian had very specific ideas.
He wanted it to look beautiful
and, since it was something
left behind by a race that
was beckoning us, that it
should have a certain spiritual
quality to it. The phrase
he used to our designers
was, 'I want it to look like
a sleeping goddess.' So we
looked at the Buddhas in Cambodia,
as well as the work of
the modern artist Brancusi."
Musgrave on the actors: "You
can't generalize about astronauts,
because there is no such thing
as a generic astronaut.
In the same way, Gary's approach
to acting as if he was in zero
gravity was very different to
Connie's. Gary had a more
intellectual and analytical
approach, whereas Connie's was
more dramatic; she trained as
a dancer, so she tended to
dramatize the movements. In
the same way, I saw Jerry
as taking an athletic approach
and Tim a more theatrical approach."
The article also includes a
sidebar about Martian
conspiracy theories.

UFO Magazine June 2000
Reprints Paul Davids' "Flying Saucers
Over Hollywood" column about
the criticism of Mission To
that was originally posted
at AlienZoo.Com.

Starlog June 2000
"Castaway On Mars" interview with
Don Cheadle.
Cheadle says, "All of it
surprised me. There was stuff
we did that I swore was not
going to work. During that first
scene of us on Mars, we were
standing there looking at nothing,
and Brian [De Palma] is yelling,
'Here comes the rock! It hits her face!'
And I'm stumbling around, thinking
this is going to look terrible.
I kept asking Brian if this looked
stupid. He said, 'No. When the
rocks and the wind are added,
this is going to look great!' Well,
I saw this thing last night, and
I was surprised at how everything
worked. It felt really weird when
I was playing off that huge thing
that was coming toward us.
I kept asking Brian what
exactly was happening. I asked,
'Shouldn't I be running rather than
standing here and waiting for
this thing to get me?'
He told me, 'No, you're a
scientist. This thing is an anomaly;
it's incredible, and you're fascinated.'
I had to laugh because if all
this stuff was really happening,
I would have been hauling ass
to the land rover and running
like hell. But he was the director,
so I did what I was told."

Starlog May 2000
"Heroes On Mars" features
interviews with Gary Sinise,
Connie Nielsen,
and Jerry O'Connell.
"Some people are going to
like this movie and some
people are not. Some people
are going to be sucked into
the wonder of the film,
while others are going to
be more reserved."
"The death scene was difficult,
because I was totally isolated
from the director and my
co-workers due to the suit
I was wearing and the fact
that I was hanging by wires
from the rafters of a very
big studio."
"I chased this movie!
It was not offered to me.
I knew what Brian De Palma's
camera does. I really wanted
to work with him."

Time April 10, 2000
This special issue is devoted
to "visions of space & science"
in the future. The cover shows
a man in an astronaut suit,
which was borrowed from the
Mission To Mars production,
posing in front of a picture
taken from the film's set.

Cinefex April 2000
Cover story on the making
of M2M, focusing on the
visual effects.

shift April 2000
"Mars Probed"
Essay by Geoff Pevere:
"If Brian De Palma's new
movie, Mission To Mars, becomes
a hit, it will have overcome an
obstacle more daunting than
any Apollo journey --
our collective boredom with
interplanetary travel." Pevere ponders
how "the real thing (cosmic discovery)
seems like a late-arriving anticlimax,"
suggesting that what interests
the collective human race now
is not outer space, but
inner space. Also features a
checklist of Mars movies.

Vanity Fair April 2000
One-page profile on Connie Nielsen
The March 2000 issue features
Walter Kirn's deconstruction of the
M2M trailer, and a rather
incredible photo of Melanie Griffith
wrapped up in celluloid, posing
with her Cecil B. DeMented co-star
Stephen Dorff & director John Waters
--Check it out--

Creative Screenwriting
March/April 2000

Features a review of Ted Tally's
draft of the M2M screenplay

Interview March 2000
One-page profile of Kavan Smith

American Cinematographer
March 2000

Mission To Mars cover story features
interview with Stephen H. Burum,
and a look at the visual effects,
but beware of SPOILERS.

Starlog April 2000
Mission To Mars cover story
Features a pull-out poster section
of photos and drawings
and a nice long interview
with producer Tom Jacobson

Scientific American March 2000
Special Report on
Sending Humans To Mars
Seven articles exploring everything
from the why to the how
of Mars travel, including
"Invaders From Hollywood,"
about filming M2M and Red Planet

Cinescape March/April 2000
"Style Trek" - Article
about the look and design
of M2M, with quotes from
producer Tom Jacobson and
production designer Ed Verreaux.
The Jan/Feb issue features
an interview with Jerry O'Connell.

Movieline March 2000
One-page profile on Connie Nielsen
and a brief interview with
Don Cheadle. Cheadle on De Palma:
"I think the idea with him was,
'You take care of that actory
shit and I'll try to do this.'"
(The "this" he demonstrates by
miming serious "directing" gestures.)

Cinefantastique April 2000
The usual 2-page Cinefantastique
teaser article, with quotes
from producer Tom Jacobson,
production designer Ed Verreaux,
and visual effects supervisor
Hoyt Yeatman.

Sci-Fi April 2000
"Discovering Mars" - Nice article
on the research and effects
that went into making M2M,
with quotes from production
designer Ed Verreaux and
third-generation special effects
expert Garry Elmendorf. Also
a side interview with
Jerry O'Connell. O'Connell on
De Palma: "He's such a
genius in storytelling. It's
how he uses the camera. He
knows exactly what he wants.
I really jumped at the
chance to work with Brian."

Premiere March 2000
"The Martian Chronicles"
4-page teaser article with
huge pictures and snippets of
quotes from cast and crew.

Posted June 13 2007

University of California at Berkeley scientists Mark Richards and Taylor Perron claim that Mars once contained oceans of water, the evidence of which has been obscured by the warping of the shorelines, which was caused by a massive toppling over of the planet. The oceans have been gone for at least 2 billion years. The scientists' study is published in the June 14th edition of the journal Nature. According to an article at

Two major shorelines exist on Mars, each thousands of miles long--one remaining from the older Arabia Ocean, and another from the younger Deuteronilus Ocean, said study co-author Taylor Perron of UC Berkeley.

"The Arabia would have contained two to three times the volume of water than in the ice that covers Antarctica," Perron told

Somewhere along the way to toppling over 50 degrees to the north, Mars probably lost some of its water, leaving the Deuteronilus Ocean's shoreline exposed. "The volume of water was too large to simply evaporate into space, so we think there is still some subterranean reservoirs on Mars," Perron said.

The remaining sea would have been located in the same lowland plain as the Arabia Ocean, but almost 40 degrees to the north.

Posted December 14 2006

An article at New Scientist details findings based on images from NASA's now lost Mars Global Surveyor. The images show gullies that some scientists believe were carved by liquid water-- the new images show that the gullies were actively reated within the past several years, with one gully showing significant activity between the time it was imaged in 2001, and then reimaged in 2005. According to the article by David Shiga, "The researchers suggest the deposits were made by liquid water flowing out from beneath the surface. The researchers estimate that each flow would have involved 5 to 10 swimming pools' worth of water."

Posted March 3 2004
Mars was once wet enough for life to exist there...

NASA said Tuesday that it believes its Opportunity rover on Mars is currently sitting in what used to be a bed of water that was possibly as big as one of Earth's great lakes. Tom Van Flandern and Richard C. Hoagland spoke on Tuesday night's Coast To Coast AM radio show about that day's NASA press conference. The two agreed that it was a one-and-a-half-hour-long infomercial, designed to promote the idea of more missions to Mars over the next twenty years. Van Flandern and Hoagland pointed out that we already knew that Mars had water, and that there is frozen water on the planet right now. Therefore, NASA's "big announcement" was a PR stunt to get people intrigued. The idea pushed most by NASA in this conference was one to bring back rock samples from the planet, which Van Flandern stressed would be a very dangerous thing to do, as it would mean bringing possible alien life forms onto Earth. A better solution, he said, would be to send proper equipment on the next rover mission that could test the soil for signs of life-- something the current rovers are unable to do. Hoagland and Van Flandern said that the scientists on the conference panel were misleading the press. Van Flandern, wearing a regular press badge around his neck, asked one of the scientists if there had been any new signs of life on Mars. The scientist, not knowing who Van Flandern was (and with the press badge, most likely assuming that Van Flandern was part of the mainstream press), replied that the equipment they had up on Mars right now (the two rovers) had not shown anything of that nature. While this statement is true, it neglects and misdirects the fact that NASA's two rovers are in fact not equipped with any tools that could check for signs of life. Meanwhile, NASA has been insisting that the spheric "blueberries" (pictured above) are not actually blue ("even though we call them blueberries"), but are grayish. Hoagland claimed that they are actually blue-green in color, and that they are probably the result of another planet exploding into Mars sometime in its past. Hoagland did a little PR himself on the show, pointing out that he and his research team have been saying for years that Mars is a water planet, and wondering what has taken NASA so long to see the obvious.

Space.Com story at Yahoo

Updated June 30 2003
Last winter, some DVD websites were reporting that the region 2 DVD (covering Japan, Europe, South Africa, and the Middle East) of Mission To Mars contains a hidden alternate version of the film's ending. At DVD Easter Eggs, instructions for accessing the scene read as follows: "Play sequence 15 (End Credits) until the end, then the same sequence restarts again but finishes before the credits with an alternate end scene." Since being reported here, one reader had written in to say that he has unsuccessfully tried to access any "easter eggs" on the region 2 DVD, even going so far as to copy it onto hard disk in order to run several authoring programs that were nevertheless unable to find any hidden scenes. Someone had e-mailed our reader telling him that in the alternate ending to Mission To Mars found on the easter egg, the Mars spaceship that Gary Sinise is riding in collapses with the NASA ship "in one big crash." De Palma a la Mod posted the above information as an update over the past weekend, discussing the possibility of such an ending being considered for the film, and concluding that for now the scene is only a rumor. But now a German reader has written in to inform us that the easter egg does indeed exist on the region 2 DVD of Mission To Mars: "I own the region 2 DVD (for Germany) and yes there is this sequence. It seems to me, that this is not an official alternate ending, but a funny gimmick. Maybe you have to see it to believe what I mean by that." So there you have it.
(Thanks to Scott and Marko!)

Posted May 10 2003
The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin, the Vice President, NASA, Masons, Egypt, Alfred Hitchcock, The Birds, Tippi Hedren, Matthew Perry, 19.5 degrees... well, it's Richard C. Hoagland, and you just have to see this for yourself.

Updated February 1 2003 2003
In Brian De Palma’s Mission To Mars, set in the year 2020, astronauts travel for six months through space to reach the "red planet," reflecting current technological and logistical facts about space travel and exploration. But President Bush is soon expected to announce his support for NASA’s Nuclear Space Initiative (NSI), dubbed Project Prometheus, which may lead to a nuclear-powered rocket that could cut that travel time from six months down to two months. The space agency plans to make Project Prometheus, named for the Greek god who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to humans, its top priority over the coming years. NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe told Peter Pae of the Los Angeles Times that the agency’s 2004 increased budget request will be “very significant.” NASA is expected to put $1 billion into the research project over the next five years. The talk revolving around this project speculates that it may allow a manned mission to Mars to be developed within the next decade, about ten years before De Palma’s film takes place. Supporters for such a trip are excited, but environmentalists remain opposed to the use of nuclear materials in space, and plan to protest in early February. It is perhaps for this reason that NASA’s spin machine discourages use of the term “nuclear rocket” when discussing the project.

The LA Times article said that O’Keefe had let on that President Bush may have been planning to announce this new initiative, but without specific mention of a trip to Mars, during his upcoming State of the Union address on January 28th. But NASA spokesman Don Savage told Space.Com that the LA Times article made a mistake in quoting O’Keefe, yet Pae and the newspaper said they stand by his story. Bush did not mention the project in his speech, but is expected to announce it in February when he presents his 2004 budget to Congress.

In a January 24th posting at the Enterprise Mission, Mike Bara writes that "O’Keefe strongly hints that, under the “cover” of an expanded technology program, the President plans to tacitly announce an aggressive plan ultimately designed to send humans to Mars" during his State of the Union address. Bara goes on to characterize it as the White House’s pending "mystery announcement." Meanwhile, Bara’s Enterprise partner, Richard C. Hoagland, called for listeners of George Noory’s Coast To Coast AM radio show January 24th to send e-mails and faxes to President Bush, with "Project Prometheus" in the subject headings, in an effort to show support for NASA’s Mars missions. The Enterprise team sees the Bush administration as using Enterprise findings to bolster public interest in a manned mission to Mars (and Mars in general), one revelation at a time. Bara’s article concludes with a dissection/interpretation of the meaning behind NASA’s title for Project Prometheus.

Posted July 25 2002
Richard C. Hoagland received an e-mail late Sunday (July 21st) that he claims came from a very reliable source in the Bush administration. The source had been communicating via e-mail with "a well-informed NASA source" who told him that NASA would be releasing an infrared color "face" image, which would include the surrounding Cydonia region of Mars, taken from the orbiting Mars Odyssey. He mentioned that there would be a caption. When Hoagland's "Bush source" questioned the NASA source further about the caption, he replied that the image would show that there "is nothing particularly unusual about the feature" (the face), and that many other features have similar non-artificial characteristics.

The "Bush source" also told Hoagland that NASA would not be releasing the image he and other researchers have requested (a nightime infrared image), but instead, a daytime infrared image. A daytime infrared image of Mars picks up solar radiation and surface reflections, thus obscuring the features researchers most want to see. A nighttime infrared image, which is the desired one, is able to see hot glowing objects in the dark. Such an image would make the features on the planet's surface clear, with much less noise and signal blockage. Hoagland's "Bush source" told him that NASA would not be releasing the correct image, which he also claims has been taken (even though NASA denies it). He told Hoagland that when the image was released that Tuesday or Wednesday, he should go on Art Bell's show and "squawk bloody murder."

Which is just what Hoagland did Wednesday night, hours after NASA released the daytime infrared image with the caption, The So-Called 'Face on Mars' in Infrared. He said that the listeners of Art Bell's Coast To Coast radio show are proof that the political process is working. That it was because of their faxes and e-mails to politicians and the like, a list of which Hoagland's team provides on his Enterprise Mission website, that some of these images even get released at all. He called for listeners now to write to NASA, to the politicians, etc., to get NASA to release the image that they have been requesting for over a year (and which he claims the public was promised).

Hoagland's "Bush source" told him that the images have already been taken, and have created a major political problem within NASA, apparently due to a history of cover-ups involved with the Cydonia region. Hoagland has been told by another source that these nightime infrared images show certain features that are "unmistakably different," and that the recent Cydonia images in general have caused problems within the agency precisely because they are "too good." Hoagland said his "Bush source" told him: "You are supposed to get a nighttime image which is so good that the conversation will dramatically move forward in terms of 'is it real or is it Memorex.' If you don't get that image, squawk like bloody murder when you do the Bell show again." Hoagland stressed that "this audience gets results," historically pushing NASA time and again to miraculously find images that it supposedly hadn't even taken yet.

Updated May 30 2002
NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft has provided evidence of vast quantities of water-ice lying just under large areas of the surface of Mars. The ice crystals, which are less than three feet below the surface, would create an ocean 500 meters deep if melted. According to NASA, what they have found so far would fill Lake Michigan two times over, and that may just be the tip of the iceberg. Since Mars has shown evidence of water in its past, researchers have been scratching their heads for decades wondering where the water went. The high-quality data from Mars Odyssey has stunned them by providing answers so quickly. The spacecraft has been in orbit around the planet since September of 2001, sending pictures of large areas, including the Cydonia region, back to Earth. It is equipped with a gamma-ray spectrometer, which allows it to look specifically for gamma rays that come from hydrogen. This hydrogen that it has found is believed to be frozen within the crystals of ice. A neutron spectrometer registers evidence of underground ice in the same areas as the hydrogen was found. According to Dr. David Whitehouse at BBC News, the finding is one of the most significant yet about the Red Planet, suggesting strong possibilities of past (and perhaps present?) life, and has insiders suggesting that NASA may commit to a manned mission to Mars within the next twenty years. The space agency had planned to announce the findings at a press conference on Thursday, May 30 2002, but quietly cancelled it the day before. When the Richard Hoagland team called to find out why, they were told that because the news was leaked almost a week beforehand, NASA no longer saw a need for a press conference. Hoagland sees this as NASA conveniently side-stepping a chance for the public to ask questions about the new findings, and suspects that someone within the space agency may have leaked the information purposely for that reason. Nevertheless, the detailed findings are to be published in the journal Science on Friday, May 31 2002.

Posted May 26 2002
Brian De Palma did a series of interviews recently for CanalPlus where he talked about various films, including Mission To Mars, which he has told many interviewers of late came from his desire to explore the purity of scientific discovery. He told CanalPlus about "the mythology of Mars, which is the Face on Mars, which people have been writing about since we had the first pictures of it." De Palma also discussed the negative reactions to the picture: "I think the reason I got so misread and not particularly critically-liked when I made this film is because it’s so idealistic." He explained that he comes from this scientific world, being a science wiz and hanging out with other science wonks when he was a kid. "Pure science tends to be a very kind of spiritual and idealistic world," he said, "something that we are quite unfamiliar with. And when you talk to these people that have been places and seen things that we will never see, they’ve got a kind of spirituality about them that is difficult to describe. So I tried to bring that kind of innocence and purity to the piece, which somehow everybody misinterpreted because I’m the prime urban cynic telling the story, and they kind of missed the point. People that go on these missions are extremely idealistic. They are extremely intelligent, they are extremely well-trained, and they go through things that we can’t even imagine. And you can only be driven by some spirituality [in order] to endure what these men have to endure. And that’s what I tried to show in this film." De Palma then proclaimed, somewhat sardonically, "And when they find out that that Face is exactly what I said it is, they’re going to reexamine this film in a whole new light!"

Remember NASA's Mars Polar Lander, the spacecraft that got lost just before it was to land on the red planet in December of 1999? The production of Disney's Mission To Mars, working closely with NASA on the film project, was anticipating using real sounds from the surface of Mars via a $100,000 microphone that was aboard the spacecraft. The microphone was funded by The Planetary Society, a non-profit group of international space enthusiasts. The craft was never found, and NASA/JPL, monitoring for a signal, gave up when none was detected by January 17 2000. The atmospheric sounds of Mars would have given the film a sort of planetary travelogue aspect unique in the annals of cinema. Such was not to be, but The Planetary Society has announced that a microphone will be included in the French space agency's NetLander mission, which plans to land four small spacecraft on Mars in 2007. The microphone, which was developed by The University of California, Berkeley, is designed to record any sounds that may exist on Mars, including the crackle of electrical discharges, the rustle of the wind and the spacecraft itself as it operates.

Meanwhile a top secret spy imagery agency, NIMA, thinks it may have spotted NASA's Mars Polar Lander intact on the surface of the planet. The agency has been quietly pouring over images taken of Mars from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor, supposedly in workers' off hours, and thinks it may have spotted the craft, although officials at NASA say it is too soon to tell if the findings are conclusive. The two agencies are reportedly going back and forth on just what it is NIMA thinks it sees in the images. NIMA is a world class leader in imagery intelligence, routinely supporting the operations of top-secret U.S. national security spacecraft. According to NASA head Edward Weiler, the agency was contacted by NIMA shortly after the Lander's failure, and the two agencies began a process of searching for the craft. When the agencies come to agreement on firm conclusions, a joint announcement is expected to be made.

Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, visited the home of 2001: A Space Odyssey author Arthur C. Clarke February 25th on the island of Sri Lanka. Talking to, the pair expounded on their thoughts about the state of space exploration in 2001 and in the future. "I'm fairly convinced that we have discovered life on Mars," Clarke stated before a silent Aldrin. "There are some incredible photographs from [the Jet Propulsion Laboratory], which to me are pretty convincing proof of the existence of large forms of life on Mars! Have a look at them. I don't see any other interpretation." Aldrin, instead of commenting on Clarke's statement, turned attention to the idea of "zero point energy," the powerful energy source that Brian De Palma's brother Bruce De Palma claimed to be tapping into with his N-Machine. Clarke said he was glad that Aldrin had brought up the "controversial" topic. "It started with this so-called cold fusion business," Clarke said, "which everybody laughed out of court. But I'm now convinced that there are new forms of energy, which we are tapping, and they make even nuclear energy look trivial in comparison. And when we control those energy sources, the universe will open up."

Author Richard C. Hoagland, who had edited a book written by Bruce De Palma about his experiments in the late 1980s, sees Clarke's recent remarks as bold statements in what he perceives as a climate of cover-ups and systematic disclosure by NASA and the elite scientific community. Hoagland points to Clarke's recent remarks about apparent "glass tunnels" spotted (and first discovered by Hoagland) in a recent image from Mars as further momentum that Clarke is pushing to get the ball rolling on a shifting scientific paradigm. Hoagland appeared on Art Bell's Coast To Coast radio show Tuesday March 6 to discuss Clarke and the recent Mars images. Another topic that came up on the show was astronaut John Glenn's appearance on NBC's Frasier earlier that evening. Glenn, within the fiction of the comedy show, had a monologue that went like this: "Back in those glory days, I was very uncomfortable when they asked us to say things that I didn't want to say, and deny other things. Some people asked, you know, "Were you alone out there?" We never gave the real answer. And yet, we've seen things out there, strange things. But, we know what we saw out there and we couldn't really say anything. The bosses were really afraid of this, they were afraid of the WAR OF THE WORLDS-type stuff and about panic in the streets. So, we had to keep quiet. And now, we only see these things in our nightmares ... or maybe in the movies, and some of them are pretty close to being the truth ..." For Hoagland, Glenn's appearance and words added much fuel to his theory of systematic disclosure, a theory in which De Palma's Mission To Mars has played a major role.

Meanwhile, President Bush’s budget blueprint for fiscal year 2001, released last week, plans to make NASA's Mars exploration program "more robust." Calling for new monies to be put into robotic missions to the Red Planet, there is some concern that this may take away from the agency's other exploration programs. A detailed space agency budget will be released in early April. NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey is scheduled to lift off on April 7th. Once it reaches Mars' orbit, it is to begin a two-year mapping mission of the planet.

...but this ain't exactly it. What you see here in this photo is a "patchwork" put together by Richard C. Hoagland at his Enterprise Mission website. A new image just released January 31 2001 by Michael Malin at Malin Space Science Systems, which captures a swath of the left side of The Face at Cydonia on Mars, has Cydonia researchers analyzing feverishly. Hoagland overlayed the new image over a "rectified" enhancement of a previous Face image by Mark Kelly, and also included an admittedly "bogus" interpretation (put together by Curt Johnach at Electric Warrior) of a supposed pupil that some researchers insist is apparent within the Face's eye socket. The pupil is, according to Johnach, "a speculative enhancement of surface features suggesting the shape of an eye, in the notorious Face on Mars. It should be understood that this image is dramatically altered. It illustrates where independent researches say there could be an eye. They'll even tell you this feature was already evident in MGS SP1-22003, the first MOC image of the Face, captured April 5, 1998." This new image of The Face, along with a new image of "The Cliff," mark the only new Cydonia images Malin has released since April 2000. The Mars Global Surveyor ended its Primary Mission orbit of the Red Planet on January 31st 2001, but an Extended Mission phase, imaging the planet while the spacecraft remains in orbit, is expected to last until at least April 2002. Hoagland sees this new release, unannounced beforehand, and, according to Hoagland, "clearly" showing that his and others' predictions about The Face were right, as part of a long term plan by NASA and JPL to disclose information about Mars to the public. He predicts more announcements about water and life on Mars to come from Malin around June 2001.
In a report published on Friday December 8 2000 in the journal Science, two scientists claim that images snapped from the camera aboard its Mars Global Surveyor show evidence of dried-up sea beds on the planet Mars, indicating ancient signs of water which may have harbored life at one time. Michael Malin, whose Mars Orbiter Camera imaged the surface area in question, led a hastily put-together NASA press conference on Monday December 4 2000 along with fellow report author Ken Edgett. The pair, who made a splash last June with their announcement of "compelling" evidence of possible past or current water flowing underneath the surface of Mars, have caused another sensation with what they refer to as their "most significant discovery yet" regarding the planet's surface. The images suggest dried-up sea or lake beds similar to formations found on Earth. Yet because the atmosphere on Mars is different from that of Earth, some caution remains as to whether sediments which may have created the rock formations came from water or air. In short, Mars remains a mystery, but these new images and their implications make it a "wilder" and more exciting one for scientists. "We caution that the Mars images tell us that the story is actually quite complicated and yet the implications are tremendous," said Edgett. "Mars has preserved for us, in its sedimentary rocks, a record of events unlike any other that occur on the planet today." The discovery will alter the aims of NASA's planned Mars missions, as the area will now become a new target in the search for water, fossils, and other signs of life.
Todd McCarthy, Variety's chief film critic, is seeing red again in Hollywood's Mars movies. Although stepping all over Brian De Palma's Mission To Mars in his review of that film last March, McCarthy finds first-time director Antony Hoffman's Red Planet (which opened November 10) to be an even more lackluster "lousy picture," bemoaning Hoffman's unimaginative filmmaking while extending praise for the film's technical achievements. "Ludicrous as it was," writes McCarthy, "Mission To Mars had style to burn compared to Red Planet, which is proddingly prosaic and only commands viewer attention with sporadically nifty special effects." Judging by the initial financial success of the earlier film, which he attributes to interest in the subject of sending humans to Mars, McCarthy predicted that the new Mars film would do well in its first weekend, but then drop off rather quickly thereafter. While M2M opened to about $22 million last March, a combination of factors (being the "second" Mars movie, competing with other major hits, and bad reviews) left Red Planet in the number 5 slot for its opening weekend, taking in about $8.5 million.

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