SAN JOSE, Calif., Jan. 30 (UPI) -- A California scientist is claiming that the mysterious rock recently photographed by NASA's Mars rover is a "mushroom-like fungus," and he is suing the agency for not further investigating the possibility of life on the red planet.
Astrobiologist Dr. Rhawn Joseph has filed a lawsuit against NASA and its administrator, Charles Bolden, for failing to investigate the donut-shaped rock photographed by the Opportunity rover. The rock was not visible in previous photos taken at that location.
"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," Joseph stated in the petition.
Joseph is unhappy with NASA's position, which he calls puzzling, after they released an official statement stating that the rock was "unlike anything we have seen before . . . We are totally confused."
Dr. Steve Squyres, principal rover investigator, has consequently said that after analyzing the rock, they are sure it is a rock that may have flipped over.
NASA spokesperson Allard Beutel, speaking to the Huffington Post, said, "Finding evidence of life on worlds other than Earth is obviously an important goal for NASA. But it has to be definitive evidence."
Joseph has posted magnified images of the rock on Cosmology.com and says the object looks very much like an apothecium, a spore-bearing structure like that found in fungi and lichens.
He awaits high-resolution pictures of the object and makes numerous allegations in the lawsuit.
"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," his petition said. "But not NASA and its rover team who have refused to take even a single close-up photo."