NASA says it's a rock, a weird one for sure, but "clearly a rock." One critic, however, thinks it just might be evidence of life on Mars, and he's sued the space agency to demand a closer investigation, reports the Houston Chronicle. The strangeness began last month when NASA released before-and-after images of the same patch of ground taken by the Opportunity rover. The object is nowhere to be seen in the first one, but it shows up in the second one taken 12 days later. NASA's Steve Squyres says "nothing particularly exotic" is to blame. The leading theory is that the Mars rover simply kicked the rock into its new spot as it was clambering around.
"We have looked at it with our microscope. It is clearly a rock," said Squyres, who described it as looking like a "jelly doughnut." NASA thinks the rock may have flipped upside down when it got kicked. That's ridiculous, says Rhawn Joseph of California, who describes himself as an astrobiologist. He thinks it looks like a "mushroom-like fungus," and his lawsuit demands that NASA take lots more close-ups and make them public, reports Popular Science (which notes that Joseph is the author of papers such as "Dreams and Hallucinations: Lifting the Veil to Multiple Perceptual Realities.") That it hasn't done so already is "inexplicable, recklessly negligent, and bizarre," says the filing. NASA says it can't comment on a legal matter, but a spokesperson tells the Huffington Post that a declaration of alien life in the universe will have to wait on "definitive evidence." (Read more NASA stories.)