In the wake of NASA's press conference, UFOologists, amateur astronomers, and the scientific community began a two decade long debate about the "Face." The images were examined again and again. Over time, new photo processing techniques were applied.
Popular culture viewed the "Face" as something of a curious item. The "what if" thinking went on and on. Even a few scientists, in moments of daydream, would imagine a future mission to Mars -- "Houston, we have a door, I repeat, we have a door...."
Books and articles were written and sold by the thousands. America had gone to Mars with Viking. We had scratched the surface, poured a tiny cupful of Martian dust into a automated science lab, and had come away without so much as a single bacteria. Common wisdom couldn't help but wonder whether NASA had been so focused on seeking life in the dust that they had missed the great monument of a long dead civilization.
Without any further data, however, the true shape and meaning of the "Face" could not be determined. The data received from Viking, while excellent, was simply not good enough to draw a conclusion.