30 July 2010, JellyBean @ 4:44 am

It was the startling photograph that spawned a thousand conspiracy theories.

A photograph taken by the American Viking 1 Orbiter in July 1976 appeared to show a hill in shape of a human face on the dusty surface of Mars.

But a new photograph released today, which was taken with Nasa’s high-definition HiRISE camera, finally shows the Face on Mars for what it really is: just a large, rocky hill in the middle of the Martian desert.

This is the closest ever image of the famous outcrop which should, once and for all, scotch the conspiracy theorists who believe that the ‘face’ uis conclusive evidence of intelligent life on Mars.

Within days of its discovery in 1976, space enthusiasts were speculating that the structure was man-made and had been built by Martians in the distant past.

Today’s image was taken by HiRISE from on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter which can pick out incredible detail from 300 kilometres above the planet’s surface.

The rocky formation is known as a mesa, a large rocky outcrop with a flat top and steep, cliff-like sides.

The Face’ mesa is in the Cydonia region and is a couple of miles long and a few hundred feet high.

Conspiracy theorists insist that the ‘face’ is an artifact from an ancient Martian civililsation and the centre of a Nasa cover-up.

Read more and see the pics: Daily Mail

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