Is NASA failing to investigate possible signs of life on Mars? Self-described scientist Rhawn Joseph says they are and he is so sure about this that he is suing the space agency.
The basis of Joseph’s claim is a photo of a doughnut-shaped rock which was photographed by the Mars Opportunity rover in a spot where it hadn’t been a couple of weeks before in a previous photo.
The quite mundane explanations which have been put forth by scientists include the idea that perhaps a nearby impact dislodged the rock and flipped it over or that the rover itself bumped against the rock causing it to change location.
However, these explanations haven’t been good enough for Joseph. He believes that the rock, dubbed by scientists as “Pinnacle Island,” is an example of life on Mars and he has filed a lawsuit seeking to force NASA to take a closer look at the rock.
The lawsuit, which was filed on January 28 in a California court, states that Joseph disagrees with NASA’s assessment of the rock’s probable source because when he examined the original photo under magnification he found that a miniature version of the rock was “clearly visible and appears to have just germinated from spores.” The suit further alleges that the rock was there the entire time, only becoming visible after it grew. Joseph further asserts in his lawsuit that NASA’s failure to take high resolution and microscopic images of the rock for further study is “inexplicable, recklessly negligent, and bizarre.”
Specifically, what Joseph is demanding from NASA’s chief administrator, Charles Bolden, is that new high-resolution and microscopic images are taken of the rock under very specific conditions. In addition, he wants these images made public as well as being supplied to him.
The rock, which has been described as looking like a jelly doughnut due it’s shape and coloring, has been examined microscopically according to Steve Squyres, the principal investigator of the Mars Exploration Rovers. “It is clearly a rock,” he says. However, it is very different from anything else that the researchers have seen before. The rock has a “strange composition,” according to Squyres, with a lot of sulfur, as well as very high concentrations of magnesium and manganese.
Unfortunately scientists have not yet been able to locate the divot that should have been left behind in the rock’s original position, which would prove their theory that the rock simply got dislodged by the rover. They believe, however, that it could be underneath one of Opportunity’s solar arrays.
Joseph has written several books about topics such as alien life and the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. In addition, he writes for the online Journal of Cosmology, which describes itself as being a peer-reviewed, open-access scientific journal of cosmology. Some, however, have questioned the journal’s standards.
NASA has not yet commented on the suit alleging that they are failing to investigate life on Mars. Articles posted on the Journal of Cosmology website dealing with the lawsuit appear to have been removed from the site.
By Nancy Schimelpfening