If life is ever discovered on another planet it would likely be the biggest news of thousands of years, and you'd anticipate the proof to be released in a highly distinguished journal like Science or Nature.
Mushrooms on Mars?
So, when a study that insists there are mushrooms growing on Mars appear in an unclear and largely doubted publication, you have to be very cynical.
A preprint of a new study came online earlier this week, with the scandalizing title Fungi on Mars? Evidence of Growth and Behavior From Sequential Images.
Sadly, the paper is ready for release in the journal Advances in Microbiology, which is included in the portfolio of Scientific Research Publishing (SCIRP).
Considering that SCIRP has a history of copying articles from other journals, it's sort of difficult to take any of its content earnestly. The study itself involves an analysis of images Opportunity and Curiosity rovers of NASA took, which have been observing on the Red Planet, adding to pictures taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Making use of red arrows and circles to point out certain characteristics, the study authors highlighted a series of structures that resembles rocks but also may likely be a tiny bit like puffball mushrooms.
The authors wrote: "Fungi flourish in environments that have intense radiation, consecutive pictures record that Martian specimens that are fungus-like comes out from the soil and grow in size, both those looking like puffballs."
They go on to claim that the photos disclose some mushrooms growing again after the wheels of one of the rovers destroyed them and that "black fungi-bacteria-like specimens" even started developing on the rovers themselves.
The paper highlighted that the number of white blobs in a specific area multiplied over several days, implying that an explanation can only be gotten by the growth of new mushrooms.
However, the authors do agree that "alikeness in morphology are not evidence of life," and that "weathering, minerals, and uncertain geological forces" may give an explanation of the features seen in the images.
Space Tiger King
Needless to say, the existence of mushrooms on Mars can't be totally ruled out - yet the fact that the authors have a record of making unconfirmed claims renders their new study specifically hard to believe. Particularly, Rhawn Gabriel Joseph's involvement reduces the credibility of the whole project.
Given the nickname Space Tiger King - because of the photographs posted on his truthfully absurd personal website - Joseph has spent decades falsely making claims that life has already been found on other planets. He started alleging that the Viking lander of NASA had discovered biological matter back in the 1970s, in spite of the agency stating the exact inverse of this.
After getting his own journal ready in an attempt to disclose his unscientific claims, he later filed a lawsuit against NASA so as to force them into investigating a structure which he claimed looked like a "putative biological organism", but which later happened to be a rock.
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