NASA Sued for Failing to Analyze 'Alien Life'S

When NASA concluded that a "doughnut-sized" object that appeared mysteriously before its Opportunity rover on Mars was actually an errant rock, it left some people dissatisfied: A lawsuit brought against the Agency alleges NASA not only failed to adequately investigate the object, but that it is biological in nature.

The suit has been filed by one Rhawn Joseph, an author of fringe papers and trade books on subjects ranging from alien life to the terrorist attacks of September 11th. (The entry for Joseph on Rational Wiki describes his ideas re: life's origins as "eccentric.") Popular Science gives a tidy summary of the suit's allegations:

The lawsuit, filed yesterday in a California court, is aimed at NASA and its Administrator, Charles Bolden, requesting that the agency "perform a public, scientific, and statutory duty which is to closely photograph and thoroughly scientifically examine and investigate a putative biological organism." Joseph is disputing the rock theory, since, "when examined by Petitioner the same structure in miniature was clearly visible upon magnification and appears to have just germinated from spores." (Joseph is the Petitioner.) The "rock," according to the lawsuit, was there the whole time, it just grew until it became visible. "The refusal to take close up photos from various angles, the refusal to take microscopicimages of the specimen, the refusal to release high resolution photos, is inexplicable, recklessly negligent, and bizarre," according to the suit.

A moment, now, to remind readers of the two leading explanations for how the rock wound up where it did. 1) The rover either bumped into the object, knocking it over as it maneuvered, or 2) (the less likely explanation, according to Mars Exploration Rover lead scientist Steve Squyres) the rock was ejected during a nearby impact event and landed in front of the rover. Another moment to remind readers that Mars is a dynamic planet that is windy, seasonal, and susceptible to collision with meteorites. It's also got a bunch of robots roving around on its surface – digging, drilling, laser-ing, and, yes, knocking over rocks.

[Via PopSci]