The planet Mars has always thought to harbor life because of its physical similarities, as well as its proximity, to Earth. Yet, no solid evidence of any oxygen-breathing existence has been found on Mars, and the search to discover it continues. On 30th July, 2020, NASA launched the Perseverance Rover, which landed on Mars on 18th February, 2021, to look for any signs of pre-existing life by collecting samples of rock and regolith from the Jezero Crater.
The Jezero Crater is believed to have been a lake at some point in the past, but is now dried up. This mission, titled Mars 2020, is meant to look for any signs of ancient microbial life in this crater. However, a team of researchers seem to be far ahead of the Perseverance Rover, because they claim to have discovered signs of life, far advanced than what the Perseverance Rover is expected to look for.
Fungus on Mars!?
The team of researchers, which released its findings in the Advances in Microbiology journal published by Cambridge University Press, boldly claimed that “Fungus-like Martian specimens” are evident in images taken by NASA’s Opportunity and Curiosity rovers, way before the mission of the Perseverance Rover, the whole point of which is to find life on Mars!
Experts and other researchers are highly critical of this claim, displaying concerns regarding the conditions on Mars which “are unfit for any life to barely survive, let alone thrive”, according to Jonathan Clarke, president of Mars Society Australia. Directly finding a growing fungal organism, like the alleged mushrooms, is hence far from possible. Furthermore, nothing in the images proves that the round ball-like objects were ‘growing’ on Mars; Clarke explained that if you find seashells on the beach, it does not mean that they grew there-the situation seems to mimic this seashell expression rather than being evidence of life on Mars.
The Self Proclaimed Scientist
If this whole scenario doesn’t seem dubious enough, one of the authors of the paper is Rhawn Gabriel Joseph, who is infamous in the field of microbiology and astrophysics for promoting unreliable theories regarding life on other planets; he even went as far as starting his own renegade journal to publish his so-called findings.
This time, he did succeed in getting his paper accepted, yet was not safe from critics who shattered his ideas to pieces because of the unconvincing evidence-his reputation does not help either. According to David Flannery, who is part of the NASA Mars 2020 team and a lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology, “We have more than photos, records, instruments that tell us what these materials [in the images] are made of.” There is no evidence at all which even implies that the images captured on Mars display mushrooms or any life forms for that matter.
It is indeed true, and perplexing nonetheless, that a paper stating that Mushrooms have been found to grow on Mars exists; yet, as experts have already stated, it will be difficult for anyone to take these findings seriously because of their dubious nature.