Last week, NASA announced that the Mars rover Opportunity had stumbled upon a mysterious rock that seemed to appear out of nowhere. While the rock did have quite a unique composition, it was likely knocked into place by the rover as it maneuvered around the area. There is still much to be understood about the rock, but one man is filing a lawsuit against the space administration for failing to identify the fact that it was an extraterrestrial lifeform... according to him.
Rhawn Joseph is the petitioner in the case. He has authored several books on a variety of topics, including the terrorist attacks on September 11, biological UFOs, and neuropsychology. His views on the origin of life on Earth have been described as “eccentric” and he is connected to the Journal of Cosmology which has published papers dealing with extraterrestrial life on on more than one occasion.
The petition, filed in a California court, takes aim at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Chief Administrator Charles Bolden, calling for a writ of mandamus for NASA to investigate the “putative biological organism” more closely. Apparently, Joseph feels that the mystery rock is not a rock at all, and it wasn’t randomly knocked into its present location. Instead, according to the lawsuit, the object is actually an alien organism that was there the entire time, but grew over the course of those twelve Martian sols to its present size. Joseph believes the object is actually a mushroom-like fungus that reproduces with spores.
His petition would demand that Opportunity take 100 close up, high definition snapshots from a variety of angles, along with 24 microscopic shots of various angles. The petition would also require the images to be publicized and he would get direct access to them. The fact that these images haven’t already been taken is described in the petition as “inexplicable, recklessly negligent, and bizarre.” A bit of name calling takes place, as Joseph states that “[a]ny 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.”
Yes, the rock’s composition was described by NASA as “unlike anything [they] have seen before,” but that hardly means it is more than a rock. As most of the focus on Mars missions is to determine past habitability, it seems very unlikely that what would have been one of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time would so easily be written off as a stray rock that just so happens to have some unusual characteristics.
Currently, neither Chief Administrator Bolden nor NASA have released official statements on the lawsuit, which you can read in its entirety below: