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This article deals with a multi-faceted feature located in Libya Montes, which I call the Martian Fairy Tales. 
The following slideshow displays the position of each character within the feature:

Close-up comparisons of each character with the original image:




Fairy Tale characters appear as a group in the Libya Montes region of Mars

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The Marrriage of Cat and Mouse

At a wedding one day,
King Mouse and Queen Cat joined together.
"I do," they did say,
And their love it was bless-ed forever.
Though the mice and the cats were always at war,
for as long as I can think back,
this marriage, it lasted an hour or more,
'til Queen Cat ate King Mouse for a snack.


The images of the cat and mouse not only interlock, they merge with one another into the same region of the feature:








We also have interlocking images of the female and dog characters.  And these characters, in turn, interlock into the cat's crown:

The fit is nearly tongue-in-groove: 




No one knows who wrote the earliest original of this little rhyme:

Went to the cupboard,
To fetch her poor dog a bone.
But when she got there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none."

 These images show the dog and the female character interlocking with each other.  The female character overlays itself onto the dog's fanciful neck attire to complete the dog's fanciful clothing:




 A fox and a fairy occupy the idential space within the feature: 








Similarly, a fancifully dressed bunny, a fairty tale owl, and a more traditional wise old owl character share the same area within the overall feature: 



Light and dark play a prominent role in the fairy tale owl and fairy tale bunny images.  If you focus your attention to the bright white areas, the bunny comes into view.  If you focus mainly on the gray areas, the owl is more prominent.

The two characters occupy virtually the same space at the same time.  The only difference is the white spot in the upper right corner that comprises the bunny's mouth and nose:


Skilled artists can create the illusion of two characters within a single space.  Below is an example of a duck looking up and to the left.  It is also an example of a rabbit looking to the right.

Artists can also use our perception of black and white to create optical illusions in their work.  In the example below, the artist has created an image that can be interpreted two different ways.  If you concentrate your attention on the black areas, you will see two human faces looking at one another.  On the other hand, if you focus your attention on the white area in the middle, you will see an object similar to a vase take shape.

In the slideshow below, you will be able to go backward and forward to see how the rabbit and owl can be perceived to exist within basically the same space.  Pay careful attention to, and permit your mind to give dimension to the bright white areas to perceive the bunny.  The bunny is looking up and to the right.  Then, forget the bright white areas and look at mainly the gray areas to see only the owl: 

 The fairy tale owl and the wise old owl also occupy nearly identical space within the feature, as you can see from this animation:



Yet another owl, makes an appearance, in a group of subordinate characters (including also, an ox, a horse, and a sheep):





This subordinate owl image nudges against the truly central character in the collection.  This owl is snugly planted between a boy and a sheep:




The image of the boy does a peculiar optical trick, depending on your perspective. 

He takes a drink:



There are numerous other interlocks and interplays amongst the various characters.

We get another tight fit between the head of the wise old owl and our fairy tale mouse.  However, there is a gap in the lower region between the two characters.

That gap is amply filled when the mouse is placed onto the frame with the fairytale owl, or vice versa, when the fairytale owl is placed on top of the mouse:

We see just how tightly these characters are spaced when we take a look at the gap between the bunny rabbit and the mouse.  The bunny rabbit must be interposed on top of the mouse in order to be viewed properly:




Analysis begins with rough measurements of the Martian Fairy Tales overall feature and the primary characters within it:

The feature is available in two separate MOC images:


From these two separate images, we can produce a three dimensional representation of the area (shown below at various contrast levels):


We can also check the geometric alignments of the characters in relation to one another.

One interesting aspect of this feature is that the characters are all roughly oriented in an upright posture in relation to one another:

Seven characters are oriented vertically upright on the same parallel with one another:

The dog and the female character (which are located in the upper left corner of the feature) lean back to the left along roughly the same parallel with one another.

The sheep's body (located in the lower right corner) runs diagonally along roughly the same parallel as the dog and female:

The cat's head and the mouse's body both tilt to our left, while the the cat's body and the mouse's head run vertically upright along the same parallel as the majority of characters in the feature.

Characters in the corners of the image such as the dog, the fairy, the fairy tale owl, and the sheep, tend to lean away from the central feature, and yet face into the feature toward the other characters.

The dog must be rotated 40 degrees clockwise to bring him and the female upright:

On the opposite corner, the fairy is brought upright when rotated 40 degrees counterclockwise:

The boy and the sheep appear to face one another.  And the horse head and the ox head are both logically oriented in context with the boy and the sheep, as if the remainder of their bodies are hidden behind the boy.

The orientation of the characters in relation to one another is appropriate as an artistic composition. 

The next step in analysis will be to determine if we can find any hints of alteration to the landscape in the area of this feature. 

We will be limited somewhat by the resolution of this image, at 5.87 meters per pixel in the main image, and 4.88 meters per pixel, in the secondary image we are using.


In this phase of the analysis, I am examining the possibility that the terrain itself may have been arranged or altered to contribute to the illusion of the feature image.  I am looking for elevation changes or odd features on the ground that are distinctive from the nearby landscape, and yet contribute to the feature image.  These are some of the highlights I found that may indicate possible alteration at the ground level:

The owl's beak appears to be a shiny, raised, sharp object protruding from the ground.  The left eyeball rests within a round socket.  The right eyeball is rounded, has an albedo consistent with the beak, and is distinctive from the surrounding terrain.

The owl's feather tufts are parallel to one another, and are in the appropriate positions.  The parallel tufts appear to mark slight elevation changes at those positions to help create the illusion.

The owl's claws are formed by parallel grooves in the ground at the appropriate positions.  These grooves are distinctive from the surrounding landscape. 


The cat's eye sockets appear to be formed from appropriately sized almond-shaped depressions.  The rims of the eyesockets are much brighter than the surrounding area.  There is even material within the depressions to contribute to the illusion of eyeballs.  The cat's whiskers look to be formed by somewhat rounded/tube shaped structures that rise partially from the ground.

There are raised parallel lines on the ground that divide the top of the cat's head from the crown, and appear to represent the base of the crown itself.  The dark areas at the tips of the crown create a shadow effect, which gives the illusion that the crown is separated and elevated slightly above the ground.

Again, parallel lines are the distinctive feature marking the fairy's crown.  There is even the illusion that the parallel lines are connected by perpendicular lines that run between the two main parallel lines.  This part of the feature looks similar to rails and crosspieces in railroad tracks.  These distinctive lines appear to be raised lines of elevation that contribute to the image of the fairy's crown or helmet.

The mouse's crown similarly appears to be created, at least in part, by elevation changes on the ground.  Intricate, almost gridlike patterns of higher and lower elevations on the ground contribute to the appearance of the mouse's crown.  Notice also the bracelets on the mouse's wrists.  Their appearance is a distinctive, raised ground feature, smoother and at a higher brightness than the surrounding area.

Darker features, probably lower elevation, or highly shaded areas, create the illusion of the fox's mouth and portions of its eyes.  The right ear also appears to be folded, and this shape appears to be attained by changes in ground elevations in that region.

There is a dark, generally rounded feature that forms the boy's head.  The left eye and the right eye are formed differently.  The left eye socket is formed by a depression at that point, while the right eye appears to be formed by a protruding rounded feature.  At the neckline, again we find an intricate pattern which appears to repeat all the way around, giving the illusion of a necklace or similar decoration.  The smooth rounded pouch below the boy's arm is bright and highly distinctive from much of the surrounding area.  It looks almost shiny in appearance and draws attention, even when the image is rotated 180 degrees.

There are a number of other ground factors that influence the illusion presented.  For instance, when we see the fur of the cat, mouse, or dog, the ground has an appropriate appearance that is helpful to producing the illusion of exactly that texture.

*   *   *


This is an intriguing feature, with interesting geometries, interlocks, and interplays.

Image Image


Let us now stop and consider to what extent normal human pattern recognition may have played in the discovery of these characters.  It may be that the terrain is so mottled that it lends itself to the formation of figures in the human mind. I have done an experiment to try to account for this possibility.
I have taken the featured area, and turned it upside down, and sideways.


This is the exact same terrain, so if it is merely pattern recognition, and simply images coming from my own mind, and not an intentional artform, then certainly, I should have no problem finding numerous patterns in these other orientations.


I can't.


I only see what appear to be well formed images in one orientation of the image:



Perhaps some viewers of this feature will try this same experiment, and let me know their results.  If viewers find equally well formed images in other orientations, please mark them clearly and send them along to me.  My email  address is  Thanks!



Special thanks and credit for the original images taken by the Mars Global Surveyor - Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) to: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems. The original MOC images encompassing the Martian Fairy Tales feature are available at these locations: M0203051 or M0203051; and also M0303483 or M0303483.
Raw Images Courtesy of NASA and ESA.  Special thanks to EVERYONE who has contributed in the search for Mars anomalies.  Also thanks to Google, Picasa, ImageShack, and Photobucket. 
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Main FeaturesWork in ProgressImage Processing and Miscellaneous ArticlesYouTube VideosResearch Mars at NASA and ESA websitesMars Anomaly WebsitesMars Anomaly Message Boards