Is Mysterious Mars Rock a Fungus?

     (CN) - The mysterious rock on Mars photographed by the Opportunity rover resembles an Earth fungus, but an "obscenely incompetent" NASA refused to take a closer look at it, a Ph.D. claims in a writ of mandamus.
     Rhawn Joseph, Ph.D., filed the writ of mandamus against NASA and its Chief Administrator Charles Bolden in San Francisco Federal Court.
     He claims, inter alia, that "Any intelligent adult, adolescent, child, chimpanzee, monkey, dog, or rodent with even a modicum of curiosity, would approach, investigate and closely examine a bowl-shaped structure which appears just a few feet in front of them when 12 days earlier they hadn't noticed it. But not NASA and its rover team who have refused to take even a single close up photo."
     Joseph describes himself in the pro se complaint as "a scientist and astrobiologist who has published major scientific discoveries in prestigious scientific journals beginning in the late 1970s."
     He also wrote a book on terrorism with Glenn Beck, and books on his own, including "Biological UFOs: Evidence for Extraterrestrial Extremophiles and Life in Space," and "The Transmitter to God: the Limbic System, the Soul and Spirituality."
     Joseph seeks a writ "compelling NASA to perform a duty to thoroughly scientifically examine and investigate a putative biological organism on Mars identified/discovered by petitioner and referred to by NASA as: 'Unlike anything we have seen before.'"
     On Dec. 26, 2013 (Sol 3528), NASA's Opportunity rover, which landed on the red planet in 2004, took a photo of a Martian outcrop.
     Twelve Martian days later (Sol 3540), it took another photo of the same outcrop - with a new object in the frame.
     "It looks like a jelly doughnut, white around the outside, red in the middle," Steve Squyres, the principal investigator of the Mars Exploration Rovers, told the English newspaper The Telegraph.
     Squyres added: "We have looked at it with our microscope. It is clearly a rock."
     But Joseph says the object was in the first photograph, unnoticed by NASA.
     He claims: "NASA failed to examine photos taken on Sol 3528, whereas when examined by petitioner the same structure in miniature was clearly visible upon magnification and appears to have just germinated from spores. In the press release and statements issued to the media, NASA and Mars rover project scientists stated they had no idea what the structure depicted in Sol 3540 was or how it got there.
     "Petitioner immediately recognized that bowl-shaped structure, hereafter referred to as Sol 3540, as resembling a mushroom-like fungus, a composite organism consisting of colonies of lichen and cyanobacteria, and which on Earth is known as Apothecium. ...
     "Petitioner magnified images of specimen Sol 3540, taken on and after Mars' day Sol 3540, and detected the presence of structures within and upon the top of the bowl-shaped specimen which resemble 'paraphyses' and miniature fruiting bodies (Exhibit A). Parapheses are spore-producing tentacle-like growths typical of Apothecium. The Court, upon examining the pictorial evidence, is reminded that NASA refused to release high definition, high resolution photos, and published only very low resolution photos taken at a distance, and all of which appear to be slightly out of focus.
     "On or about January 17, 2014, Petitioner wrote up a preliminary report of these
     discoveries and Petitioner asks the court to read the report and examine all the pictorial evidence which is available at Cosmology.com. "It is the petitioner's impression that spores were exposed to moisture due to changing weathering conditions on Mars. Over the next 12 days these spores grew and developed into the structure depicted in Sol 3540; photographed on the day the rover team again focused on that outcrop after a 12 day hiatus. The structure in miniature appears in the same exact location in the same exact spot as the larger structure photographed 12 Martian days later. The evidence is consistent with biological activity and suggests that life on Mars may have been discovered."
     Joseph says NASA did not make this discovery itself because it failed to take high-resolution and microscopic pictures of the object.
     "The refusal to take close up photos from various angles, the refusal to take microscopic images of the specimen, the refusal to release high resolution photos, is inexplicable, recklessly negligent, and bizarre."
     Then follows Joseph's comment that "Any intelligent adult, adolescent, child, chimpanzee, monkey, dog, or rodent with even a modicum of curiosity, would approach, investigate and closely examine a bowl-shaped structure which appears just a few feet in front of them when 12 days earlier they hadn't noticed it. But not NASA and its rover team who have refused to take even a single close up photo."
     NASA hypothesized that the object is a meteor or a rock that was turned over and rolled downhill when the rover made a U-turn.
     Joseph calls this explanation "outrageously negligent, obscenely incompetent, shockingly ignorant about basic biology, and prone to magical thinking."
     He claims that NASA staff members have ignored his multiple emails.
     He seeks writ of mandamus compelling NASA to "A) take 100 high resolution close-up in-focus photos of the specimen identified in Sol 3540, at various angles, from all sides, and from above down into the 'bowl' of the specimen, and under appropriate lighting conditions which minimize glare. B) Take a minimum of 24 microscopic in-focus images of the exterior, lip, walls, and interior of the specimen under appropriate lighting conditions. C) NASA and the rover team must make public and supply petitioner with all high resolution photos and images of that specimen as demanded in A and B."
     If the object is indeed biological, Joseph also asks to be named as first author on the first six scientific articles published by NASA employees.
     The photo illustration is from Exhibit A, on page 9 of the lawsuit.