CivRadio has visited the Monoliths of Mars before! Back in December of 2014 CivRadio published the article "Monolithomania - The Mars and Phobos Monoliths Revisited".  Well, its Monolith fever again here at CivRadio, but this time it's the planet Mercury instead of Mars.

Mercury Messenger Monolith, try to say that real fast three times in a row!  Now, lets take a look at an image (PIA15614) taken by the Messenger spacecraft on February 10th, 2012 as it orbited Mercury. Some are claiming to see what they call a monolith or a doorway or an artificial object of some kind. The anomalous object was first reported by Scott C Warring of Is the object something to write home about? Or, is the object in question simply an image artifact? Let's take a closer look at PIA15614 from the JPL Photojournal.


NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington - PIA15614: V for Victoria

 The so called "doorway" or monolith can be seen in the far right of the above image. Also, See the below images for an enlargement of the object.


400 percent enlargement of Mercury monolith.


 600 percent enlargement of Mercury monolith.

After looking at both enlargements, I begin to doubt that this is a real object casting a shadow. I see nothing in front of the shadow that would indicate a monolith or building is there at all. If there was an actual object, I believe we would see more of a halo effect from the side of the object that faces the Sun. This halo affect can be seen in the following image below from the Mars Global Surveyor MOC image 55103. I also find it hard to believe that the shadow of the Mercury monolith does not skew at all as it appears to cast onto unlevel terrain.

Mars Global Surveyor MOC image 55103

Now, I know what you are saying, What if the monolith or building on Mercury was angled the right way so that we couldn't see any of the sun facing side at all. Well, see the image below which was an attempt by CivRadio to recreate such a scenario. In the image below, using a small box of staples with an agnled roof that comes to a point, one can see that there is still a significant halo affect of the side facing the light and we can clearly tell there is an object in front of the shadow from the halo effect alone. One interesting note, is that a straight shadow can be cast over unlevel terrain. But, it took quite a bit of tweaking to make the terrain in the test image sit a certain way to reduce the skewing of the shadow.

 CivRadio image test. Square object with pointed roof casting shadow on unlevel terrain.

In conclusion, it is the reluctant opinion of CivRadio that rectangular object seen in PIA15614 is most likely an image artifact. Other possibilities include image manipulation. NASA would never manipulate an image though! I hope we are wrong, as it would be much cooler if it was a doorway or a building of some sort. I guess the only way to know for sure though would be to go back to Mercury and take another photo of the area. If you have read this far and care to dive a little deeper, similar image artifacts can be seen in other JPL photojournal images from the Messenger mission. See images PIA16394 and PIA16349. Thanks for stopping in!


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