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Have Clementine images been altered?
"I don't know why they have done this, I just know that they have."
Recently, amateur astronomer Chuck Schramek posted several strange images on his web site, purportedly of "faked" Clementine images. At least some of the "artifacts" were caused by the fact that the Clementine Lunar Image Browser he was viewing uses only 17 shades of gray instead of the 8-bit standard 256. This results in blurs and distortions when the browser is set to high resolutions. While this is not proof of intent to deceive, it is suspicious, since the CLIB site does not clearly state that the images are useless for close-up viewing, which they are. Meanwhile as I was surfing Clementine sites, I came across this far more dubious and compelling image .....
This side-by-side-by-side comparison of UV-VIS images from Clementine makes a strong case that at least some of the images have been censored by BMDO before release. The first image is the standard hi-res camera image of the floor of the crater Tycho. The anomalous "Chalet", "Backhoe" "Pyramid" and "Longhorn" are visible without enhancement. The second image is the same photo which I have modified using the airbrush tool on my photo software. The third image is the official released Clementine photo of the crater Plato, from the LLNL (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) web site. I have cropped and resampled it to fit the page, but have not modified it in any other way. Obviously, the lack of detail and texture in the Plato image is a tip-off that it has been altered, but the comparison with the airbrushed Tycho image is compelling. Image modification due to compression or the resampling can be discounted, since the image looks very much the same uncompressed and compression would not produce the "airbrush" effect in any event. The inescapable conclusion is that there is something in the crater Plato that someone doesn't want us to see. The Plato image below from the CLIB shows a similar featureless floor.
Other lower resolution images of Plato from telescopic sources show a basically dark featureless floor. However, there is no other area that I am aware of on the Moon that is so completely featureless. Plato is one of the most prominent Lunar features, lying at 52N lat. and 10W long. It is frequently described as a "walled plain" rather than an impact crater. Acquisition of unmanned or Apollo photo's will now become a priority.
It should also be noted that I made an attempt to get the actual Clementine images from various Clementine servers, only to find that key sections of the center of Plato were simply not on the servers. There is a gap in the available images roughly in the center of the crater. Other hi-res images come out completely black. When queried about this, the NRL webmaster replied;
"Thanks for your interest. There are images that appear all black. This is simply because there wasn't enough light for that particular sensor to record anything."
When I pointed out that there was plenty of light for the UV-VIS camera to take images on the same orbit, I got no reply. The fact is that the different camera's were all working most of the time simultaneously. (It now turns out, to be fair, that the opaque cover was over the HI-RES camera lens, as it was for most of Clementine's mission. -M.B. 2-18-97)
I did manage to find this UV-VIS image that shows significantly more detail, but still nowhere near the amount of debris and cratering that should be visible according to current geologic models. (Again I refer you to the Tycho image). I am also at a loss to account for the difference between this image and the "official" LLNL released image above. They should be the same.
I believe that this discrepancy points to one of two conclusions. Either the "official" image has been altered before release, or there is some sort of "cover" over Plato which tends to obscure the floor of the plain. This would account for the differences in the two images presented here. If the Clementine probe had shifted position slightly some details in the plain below might move into view, assuming a translucent but multi-layered dome like structure. If this is the case, it should be possible to find other images of the area that show the make up of the "dome" and it's supporting structure.
The third, and in my opinion least likely explanation, is that Plato is a very young feature and simply has hardly any impacts and a nearly glass smooth surface.
I asked a friend, Chad Vanisko, who runs the Cydonia Anomalies page, to examine the LLNL image for me. While Chad maintains he is not a "photographic expert", he has quite a bit of experience at image enhancement and has worked closely with Dr. Mark Carlotto, who is certainly one of the foremost digital image experts in the world. Chad has done some impressive work bringing out additional details on the "Face on Mars", and his preliminary analysis is here. I will post his final analysis as soon as I get it.
MORE TO COME ...............