back to article Man sues NASA: Mystery Mars rock is a UFO – an unidentified 'FUNGUS' object

A California science author has taken legal action against NASA, claiming the agency is failing to investigate the mysterious object that appeared in front of the Opportunity rover on Mars last month. Mars doughnut One man believes this is a mushroom (click to enlarge) "The refusal to take close up photos from various …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reg Commentard surely?

    He sounds like the poster boy El Reg Commentard - skim the article, post a rant without reviewing the facts, then go run with the wolves or waddle with the penguins (pick your preference) down to the local pub.

    1. Phil E Succour

      Re: Reg Commentard surely?

      Perhaps amanfrommars has moved into litigation?

      Judging from the description of the lawsuit I'd have thought "Runs with Beavers" is nearer the mark.

      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        Re: Reg Commentard surely?

        Yeah, amanfrommars wants his fungus back.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reg Commentard surely?

      You mean YOU did it? :-)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reg Commentard surely?

      Well, obviously.

      How can anyone take him seriously when he hasn't filed for proof the the moon is made of cheese, nor has he made any attempt to verify (or acknowledge) the existence of Clangers.

    4. Jim 59

      Re: Reg Commentard surely?

      ...skim the article, post a rant without reviewing the facts...

      Words to live by.

  2. Charles Manning

    If you look carefully....

    You can clearly see jesus' face and that thing is a wart.

    1. VinceH

      Re: If you look carefully....

      To hell with the mysterious rock, what I want to know is who laid the crazy paving?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: If you look carefully....

        Mayans, don't you know.

        1. FrankAlphaXII

          Re: If you look carefully....

          Naw, it was amanfrommars. He just hires Mayans as advisors and a couple of Aztecs here and there. As well as Giorgio Tsoukalos' hair (y'know "because Aliens" or as me and my wife refer to him, Mr. "Exatrestrial").

          But yeah, he runs a psychedelic paving company in Kasei Valles, didn't you know?

          1. Beachrider

            Re: If you look carefully....this guy is a creationist...

            This Doctor believes in panspermia. He is a creationist with a different starting scenario than the bible. If you love him, you live him.

            NASA isn't about to turn over the MER to him, though. He is doing this for the publicity.

            He is in The Reg's debt for their assistance...

  3. Don Jefe

    Backfiring Logic

    The biggest problem with any conspiracy is that those who endorse the conspiracy can never be satisfied with evidence showing they are wrong. Anything provided to them will not be satisfactory. Since that's the case, you're a lot better off spending your money on hookers and cocaine than trying to obtain evidence which you cannot believe.

    The most disturbing aspect of conspiracy theories is that in order to 'believe' in them you have to question your perception of reality. It happens, every single time, even if the people impacted don't realize it is happening. The processes required to disengage your natural instincts for even basic logic and observation are not the signs of a healthy mind. To be unsure, or uncommitted is one thing, but to refuse to acknowledge evidence disproving your theory is truly unbalanced insanity.

    On the upside, most hardcore loons like this guy can't get everything together long enough to acquire the money and resources that would let them do serious harm because of their skewed view on things. So loons are OK, even if kind of dumb, and wealthy people are OK, even if kind of dumb. But a wealthy loon is really not OK.

    1. nexsphil

      Re: Backfiring Logic

      Correct. Conspiracy is impossible. Humans never conspire, and anyone who proposes otherwise is insane. I mean look at this guy!!! HAHHAHAHhahahahAHAHAHAHhhHahahahahAHAHahahdaeiewjf'arwef'ermgaergaknre'kag

      Clearly all this demonstrates that we should never ask questions about anything, ever.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Backfiring Logic

      The problem with your anti-conspiracy rant is that you do not define what you mean by conspiracy?

      Federal Reserve created in secret to ensure riskless profits for well-placed bankers? Yes.

      Close-knit group engineering the entry of the US in WWI? Yes.

      Finagling of evidence to get the hoi polloi into war lust for Afghanistan and Iraq? Yes.

      A high number of politicians/visible persons are sociopaths and consider you their golden retriever? Yes.

      FDR angling for a first strike by Japan and fully in the know about where and when? Probably yes.

      JFK killed by a cabal able to influence random events / travel backward in time? Probably no.

      Source of 2001 anthrax attacks not really the guy who conventiently died at the end? Maybe.

      UFOs exist but are left unacknowledged because what you gonna do about it? Maybe.

      World Trade Center dynamited from inside using nanoparticles? No.

      UFOs exist and control politicans. No.

      Elvis alive and living on Mars? No.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Backfiring Logic

        Well, you make a very valid point about the definition of a conspiracy. I know what conspiracy really means, but we're not allowed to share our knowledge with those who are not initiated.

        But seriously, I'm aware conspiracies are real. The issue is that the data required to validate/falsify a conspiracy can't be trusted. The people conspiring against you have operatives everywhere you know.

        The issue of overvaluation of self is generally very evident in conspiracies. Even if there were a conspiracy at the highest levels, what makes a person think they would be affected by a conspiracy? The overwhelming majority of conspiracy theories would have absolutely zero impact on 99.9999987% of the population if proven true. As a rule, individuals see themselves far more important than they really are.

        And lastly, everything about conspiracy theories is done in a way that is worst practice in science, engineering or even general problem solving. They start at conclusions and work backward to make them fit into a fairly wonky view of reality. You don't need any information if you're going about it that way. Just say whatever you like. Hell, even people who agree on the existence of a given conspiracy can't agree among themselves what the effects of the conspiracy are.

        So we don't know what effects a conspiracy has, nor the mechanisms that make it work nor if it even matters. Even from a common sense standpoint it doesn't make sense to go digging but not actually know what you're digging for. From a business standpoint and an engineering standpoint you ignore issues like that because you're only guessing and doing yourself harm is just as, if not more, likely than finding answers. Even if you did find answers you wouldn't recognize them if you found them because preconceived notions prevent you from seeing what's actually happening.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Backfiring Logic

          Another unifying feature of conspiracy theories is the lack of motive ascribed to the conspirators. For example 9/11 truthers will talk until they're blue in the face defending their interpretations of 'evidence' but never even approach the motive problem - namely, if you wanted to scare people into going to war, why blow up buildings and go to phenomenal cost and risk to pretend that planes did it when the goal would be accomplished just as effectively by just blowing them up to begin with?

          And, of course, in this case, what possible motivation would NASA have to 'cover up' some fabulous fungus, when the whole damn reason the rovers were sent to mars was to look for exactly that kind of thing?

          I've never gotten the chance to spin a real conspiracy nut up to high RPM on technical issues and then see what his response to the motve question is, but hopefully one day...

      2. Blofeld's Cat
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Backfiring Logic

        [Looks around furtively] I was told that the tinfoil manufacturers are conspiring with the powers that be, to leave flaws in their product so signals can still get through. Probably nonsense but...

        +++ no carrier

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Backfiring Logic

          'Foucalt's Pendulum' by Umberto Eco is an excellent treatise on conspiracy theorists and their desire to believe, presented in the form of a thriller. It's very readable, if a bit dense at times, and has an overarching structure that prevents the fatigue one can feel after successive plot twists a la Robert Anton Wilson's 'Schrodinger Cat Trilogy'.

          However, you don't need to have read it to consider Dan Brown a prick.

          1. Don Jefe

            Re: Backfiring Logic

            I wrote a paper in university on using 'alternative viewpoints', found in the writings of any given period in time, to construct a framework for examination of that period that included viewpoints that generally aren't reflected in formal histories and political texts of that time. Kind of a 'thinking persons' timeline to help seperate the influences of politics, economy and academic(ish) philosophies so that events could be assessed without the insane bias generally reflected in 'official' histories. Society isn't a vacuum kind of thing. My professor hated it. Mostly, I think, because if my work was valid it undermined the neat little cause/effect views of history people like to make for themselves.

            Anyway, works by RAW, Douglas Adams, Oscar Wilde and the Marx brothers featured heavily in the justifications I gave for attempting to 'rewrite history'. RAW is the only person I've ever encountered who could induce motion sickness via text :)

        2. Idocrase

          Re: Backfiring Logic

          Aliens, conspiracies around microwave beams and chips in people's heads, were all invented by a cabal of tinfoil barons in order to sell more tinfoil.

      3. sisk

        Re: Backfiring Logic

        Elvis alive and living on Mars? No.

        Oh come on. Everyone knows Elvis is living on one of Jupiter's moons and only occasionally visits Mars or Las Vegas. The cold is keeping him fresh so he doesn't die of old age.

        On a more serious note, yes conspiracies do happen, even in the modern world. The problem I have with a lot of popular conspiracy theories would require the US government to be far more competent than they actually are. Plus NASA really has nothing to hide (unless you think little green men who've cracked warp speed are interested in a bunch of hairless apes).

      4. Tom 13

        Re: Elvis alive and living on Mars? No.

        Shouldn't that be 'Maybe'?

        After all, no less a person than Tommy Lee Jones told us Elvis didn't die he just went home.

  4. Silviu C.

    No, no, no you silly man! That's not fungus. Those are Pikmin.

  5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Running with the wolves, eh?

    "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"

    Sounds like he wants us to wake up the Inhibitor device.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just curious.

    PhD in what, from where? His website is very crapgeocitiestastic, but this piece of information is not there. Can we safely assume is from some place like Oxford or Harvard?

    1. NP-Hardass

      Re: Just curious.

      Lost in the bowels of his website:

      "Dr. Joseph obtained his Ph.D. from UHS/The Chicago Medical School, and completed his training at the VAMC/Yale University Medical School Seizure Unit, Department of Neurology, Neuropsychology Section. Joseph completed the Ph.D. program, including his Ph.D. dissertation in two years, and by graduation had more scientific publications than most of the faculty." (search for A VERY BRIEF BIOGRAHICAL RESEARCH NOTE [it's like a billion lines down])

      1. stu 4

        "Lost in the bowels of his website:"

        It conforms to my 'mentalists put it all on one page' theory.

        You see it on quack websites claiming the latest diet with bogus references (e.g. GM diet which was NEVER done by GM), conspiracy theorists like David Ike's (who sadly has went more commercial and regular in his website design now), people complaining about a company for some reason (which reading confirms is that basically they didn't know how to treat someone who is clearly mental), etc

        It's weird how they all conform to the 'I NEED to stuff everything on one single massive page' web design.

        But it does mean, when I'm looking for info on something it's a great way of immediately realising what I'm looking at is the work of a mentalist, so saves time.,

      2. Rafael 1

        Re: Lost in the bowels of his website:

        I salute your courage. Have an upvote.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just curious.

        > Dr. Joseph obtained his Ph.D. from UHS/The Chicago Medical School, and completed his training at the VAMC/Yale University Medical School Seizure Unit, Department of Neurology, Neuropsychology Section. Joseph completed the Ph.D. program, including his Ph.D. dissertation in two years, and by graduation had more scientific publications than most of the faculty

        This could just be a tragically confused interpretation of a stay in a mental hospital after a seizure and brain injury...

  7. GBE

    Crackpot (and one without standing)

    I read the petition, and based on the language and writing, I'd have to say the author is a genuine, bona-fide, died-in-the-wool crackpot. [Though rather a low-level one apparently: he was denied a Wikipedia page as either a "real" scientist or as a crackpot because he wasn't genuinely famous.]

    General crackpottedness aside, I fail to understand why he thinks he has standing. About 95% of the section of the petition that's supposed to explain the petitioner's standing is a list of his publications and supposed qualifications as an expert in astrobiology (or something like that). However, "standing" doesn't have anything to do with his qualifications as an expert. "Standing" is about showing that you've been more-or-less directly harmed and that the remedy you're seeking will compensate you for that harm and stop you from being harmed further.

    When it comes to the actual question of his standing, the petitioner falls back on the old "I'm a taxpayer and <somebody> is spending my tax money in a way that I don't like." That's referred to as "taxpayer standing", and the US Supreme Court says it's not a valid argument unless the plaintiff is claiming that the taxes are being levied and spent in a manner that exceeds the authority granted to <somebody> to do so under the constitution.

    Even though it was definitively tossed out by the Supreme Court in 1923, crackpots never tire of the "taxpayer standing" gambit...

    1. Eddy Ito

      Re: Crackpot (and one without standing)

      My take as well. I loved the bit:

      Petitioner has no other alternative avenues of relief available other than mandamus.

      All I could think was, relief from what? Being a taxpayer? Hell, the judge should find in his favor and award him monetary relief to reimburse his portion of NASA's budged in pennies, all twenty dollars of it and have him pay for the armored truck to deliver it from D.C. in order to provide relief to the other taxpayers since he is being such a pillock.

  8. Grease Monkey Silver badge


    If he has provided NASA with evidence that the object is organic, how did he come by this evidence? More importantly why does he want NASA to investigate the object if he clearly has the means to investigate it himself?

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Evidence?

      Rule #1 of proving any conspiracy theory is to provide only carefully screened evidence, gathered from secret sources and packaged in a way so that only those in on the conspiracy can recognize the information for what it really is. It's all very complicated you see. Protecting innocent bystanders and letting those leading the conspiracy know that you know is a fine line to walk.

      1. Tom 7

        Re: Evidence?

        Rule #2 Ignore them

        Rule #3 if rule #2 fails try lots of percussive persuasion.

  9. tempemeaty

    The Pattern

    I't's good to know that I'm not the only one seeing a pattern develop. The pattern is that when NASA comes across something OBVIOUSLY unusual, curious or unexpected, they literally turn away from it every time. NASA needs to investigate, not run from, interesting finds!

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: The Pattern

      So you didnt actually read the end of the article where it specifically states NASA are investigating the damn thing?

      Go run with your wolf pack you twit!

    2. I like noodles

      Re: The Pattern

      "I't's good to know that I'm not the only one seeing a pattern develop."

      This post, yes, this one, is one of those fekking posts that I look at and can't work out if the poster is joking or not. Every logic circuit in my brain is screaming "it's a joke! it's a joke!", but the little nagging voice from just over my shoulder is quietly saying "no, it's not a joke, they're being completely serious"...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Pattern

        Nagging voice here -

        Buy windows 8 its brill

        Buy windows 8 its brill

        Buy windows 8 its brill

        Buy windows 8 its brill

        Buy windows 8 its brill

        Buy windows 8 its brill

        Buy windows 8 its brill

        Buy windows 8 its brill

        Buy windows 8 its brill

        Buy windows 8 its brill

        Buy windows 8 its brill

        Buy windows 8 its brill

    3. Don Jefe

      Re: The Pattern

      I can see how people might think NASA is hiding information from us. I really can, don't know why they would hide it, but I can see people believing NASA is in on fooling us all.

      But it's horribly bad practice to jump to the most complex reasons before eliminating simpler reasons. I'll give you a real world example, stick with me, the lead in is crucial:

      Here where I work, we do quite a bit of sintering and have a bit of a specialty focus on designing and producing sintered mixing screws and assemblies in complex shapes for use in extremely hostile industrial environments. Like melt your face off and kill lots of people if something goes wrong hostile, right.

      To prevent melted faces, we developed a testing process where we recreate the hostile environment (scaled down) and expose test output to every possible variable that it could encounter and during the process, which can take many weeks, we make many thousands of scans of the test article with our scanning electron microscope.

      To aid in analysis we'll expose the test article to many different chemicals that cause different materials in the test article to appear as different colors after the computer has processed the scans. Effectively we're making a movie our engineers will analyze in zillions of different ways to identify potential for melted faces.

      I'm wrapping up here, this is the important part. If you look at the 'movie' long enough, in enough ways, or just get lucky, you're going to see all sorts of weird shit.

      We've had Jesus many times, animal shapes, penis shapes, everything. Only once was something unexplainable, at first. One of our engineers has one of those South American names that's got lots of parts, but his initials are DALE so we call him DALE or DALE 3000 if he's drunk. Anyway, the letters DALE started showing up in some scans. We thought it was a joke, but DALE is quite superstitious, he was scared. We had angered God and such.

      Over 10 hours later someone noticed the font in the scans is proprietary to our internal ops and God certainly wouldn't be infringing on our trademarked property. The cause was that the metallic components of the ink on our ID badges had become magnetized on DALE's badge and had picked up steel 'powder' used in the sintering process. When DALE was operating the scanner his badge had been in front of the viewport (which should have been closed anyway) but because the powder on the badge was what was used in the piece under observation the computer assumed it was supposed to be there. Haha, hilarious right?

      Funny story aside, my point was that if I showed an outsider the 'movies' from our lab it would be unnerving to most people that weren't stoned. It's weird and it doesn't look like what people think it should look like (how the know what it should look like is still a mystery. But my engineers, who have been looking at these things for years see the images for what they really are. To a superstitious Catholic with no knowledge, Jesus is a full time staffer here. But to my engineers Jesus's outstretched arms are the threads of the mixing screw and his head and body are just the main shaft which is ovoid in shape and looks vaguely Human shaped.

      So what you see as 'weird, crazy discovery' worthy of coverup, is much more likely to be a reflection of your lack of expertise in analyzing the environment. I know you don't have the expertise, but if you jump to conclusions you'll never have answers either...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Pattern

        Don Jefe, you've earned my respect with that post. It ought to be printed, framed, and hung on walls in peoples' houses so they can read it often enough to understand it. I am convinced that if we could just manage to get most people over that hump of realizing that complex results have simple causes, and - well, basically realizing what you said, that the world would rapidly become a much better place.

        There's a part of me that thinks we ought to drop a huge chunk of primary education and replace it with a great whacking section of time where everyone is devoted entirely to learning *how to learn* and learning *how to interpret* - things like correlation/causation, unfounded logical leaps (eg, antivaxxers going, 'Substance A is bad, Substance A is in a vaccine; vaccine is therefore bad'), etc. Dollars to donuts just doing that would have knock-on effects that would make life better for hundreds of millions within a few decades...

        But a dream is just a dream... :P

  10. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    Filing such a lawsuit is extraordinarily inexplicable, recklessly negligent, and bizarre. Stop it!

    1. Michael 28

      isn't there a name for this type of legal claim?

      Barratry? Vexatious Litigation? ...IANAL ... or a solicitor! Ty!

      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        Re: isn't there a name for this type of legal claim?

        Barratry? Isn't that a medical condition? (I'm neither a lawyer nor a doc.)

        1. Kevin Johnston

          Re: isn't there a name for this type of legal claim?

          I thought Barratry was when those in command of a ship/aircraft/other military unit rebelled against authority.....

          To be fair though I read it in a book and not on the Internet so it may not be true.

        2. Fink-Nottle

          Re: isn't there a name for this type of legal claim?

          Barratry? Isn't that a medical condition?

          No, Barratry was my fag when I was a senior at Eton. I believe his people own vast swathes of Scotland and Mars.

  11. Andus McCoatover

    Yes, but ...Look at the wookie!

    ..hasn't anyone else noticed in the 'before' snap, there seems to be a bit of green 'sellotape' securing one of the cables to the 'wing'?

    Seems to have survived the severe Martian conditions rather better than the stuff I use to fix my glasses.

    Oh, and what's that circular lens cap doing lying on the 'after' picture, about 11 o'clock from the 'mushroom'.

    The film crew at area-51 are getting sloppy!

  12. Pahhh

    Rover dropping litter

    I think the Rover is dropping litter and NASA dont want to fess up.

  13. Unicornpiss

    It is curious..

    That the outline of the ground where the object appears later seems to very nearly match its shape. But that NASA wouldn't investigate the mystery object seems pretty silly.

    1. Grikath

      Re: It is curious..

      Hmmmyes... And the spectrometric and microscopic data which they publicly announced about its composition and make-up shows they haven't examined the object at all....


  14. kmac499

    Choral Pigs...

    Brings to mind advice given to me by a wise old man on educating people about their own stupidity and prejudices.

    Two things to remember about teaching pigs to sing.

    1) It's a waste of time

    2) It annoys the F'ing Pig

    We later added

    3) And even if you succeed; Pigs have lousy singng voices.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Choral Pigs...


      You DO NOT teach pigs to sing.

      What you do is select a few dozen pigs, and determine the natural pitch of squeel for each. Armed

      with this data, you then get a MIDI keyboard, an Arduino, and as many relays, crocodile clips and step-up transformers as you have pigs...

      Then it's just a case of "a bunch of German microphones, a very expensive British mixing desk and absolutely no EQ whatsoever - just as the good Lord intended".

      - with apologies to Monty Python and Hayseed Dixie

  15. Peter Simpson 1

    Who is Rhawn Joseph?

    First sentence is probably all you need to read:

    Rhawn Joseph is a neuropsychologist who worked at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in California. Since then he has become involved with the Journal of Cosmology and known for his eccentric views on the origin of life on earth.

    An expert in his field, well regarded by his peers, then.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Who is Rhawn Joseph?

      It's such an odd thing really. I'm willing to give someone trained in formal observation 30secs or so to make a case for something, even if it's far, far outside their field. Observation is as much about training as it is talent really.

      But from what I've found over time, is that people who make pronouncements, as opposed to questions, about things outside their field are often unable to view things outside their field with the same level of unbiased observation they (usually) apply inside their field. You'd think that they'd know better.

      This case is no different than me, an engineer, suing the National Institutes of Health because fluoridated drinking water is interfering with the ESP all Humans have but would allow us to shake off the shackles of bondage imposed on us by a government concerned only with physical wealth. It's just weird.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to see here

    To look into this you would be like this idiot and you don't want that. Nobody wants to be like him, and you certainly don't. Don't be an idiot, look over there! Hey, look, Justin Bieber just got arrested!

    Nothing to see here unless you're a moron so move along...

  17. Lallabalalla

    David Eycke! David Eycke knows the answer

    Somebody should put them in touch.

  18. sisk

    What I find interesting is that the shop of the object in the after picture is a perfect match to the shape of what appears to be an indention in the rock in the before picture. If these things were on Earth I'd say the object was probably ice formed from moisture that collected in the indention, but I don't think there's enough moisture on Mars for that explanation.

  19. Martin Budden Silver badge

    "he has certainly had his wild times, chasing women and carousing late at night"

    Sounds like a fungi to me!

  20. The Jay

    Comment speaks for itself...

    "Once upon a time there was a Martian named Valentine Michael Smith..."

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