Mars Life? Fungi-like Growth

There appears to be are images that researchers claim is life on Mars. Images taken by NASA’s Opportunity and Curiosity rovers as well as the agency’s HiRISE high-resolution camera attached to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter look a lot like Fungi on Earth. Fungi can live in extreme radiation. The researchers cannot completely rule out minerals, weathering, and unknown geological forces that are unique to Mars and unknown and alien to Earth. However, if they saw this on Earth they would definitively call it Fungi. A lot of follow-up work will be done to confirm what could be a historic discovery.

Total conclusive proof will require a sample return mission or sending some ultra-specialized gear to Mars.

UPDATE – It is likely a false claim. NASA did not have a press conference to announce it, the journal where it is published will publish almost anything.

Above – Photographed by Opportunity. Martian specimens approximately 3-8 mm in size resembling Puffballs (Basidiomycota), some with stalks or shedding white spore-like material (leprose).

Fungi thrive in radiation intense environments. Sequential photos document that fungus-like Martian specimens emerge from the soil and increase in size, including those resembling puffballs (Basidiomycota). After obliteration of spherical specimens by the rover wheels, new sphericals-some with stalks-appeared atop the crests of old tracks. Sequences document that thousands of black arctic “araneiforms” grow up to 300 meters in the Spring and disappear by Winter; a pattern repeated each Spring and which may represent massive colonies of black fungi, mould, lichens, algae, methanogens and sulfur reducing species. Black fungi-bacteria-like specimens also appeared atop the rovers. In a series of photographs over three days (Sols) white amorphous specimens within a crevice changed shape and location then disappeared. White protoplasmic-mycelium-like-tendrils with fruiting-body-like appendages form networks upon and above the surface; or increase in mass as documented by sequential photographs. Hundreds of dimpled donut-shaped “mushroom-like” formations approximately 1mm in size are adjacent or attached to these mycelium-like complexes. Additional sequences document that white amorphous masses beneath rock-shelters increase in mass, number, or disappear and that similar white-fungus-like specimens appeared inside an open rover compartment. Comparative statistical analysis of a sample of 9 spherical specimens believed to be fungal “puffballs” photographed on Sol 1145 and 12 specimens that emerged from beneath the soil on Sol 1148 confirmed the nine grew significantly closer together as their diameters expanded and some showed evidence of movement. Cluster analysis and a paired sample ‘t’ test indicates a statistically significant size increase in the average size ratio over all comparisons between and within groups. Statistical comparisons indicates that arctic “araneiforms” significantly increased in length in parallel following an initial growth spurt. Although similarities in morphology are not proof of life, growth, movement, and changes in shape and location constitute behavior and support the hypothesis there is life on Mars.

Sol 182 photographed by NASA Rover Opportunity. A majority of experts identified these specimens as “fungi” and “puffballs” (Joseph 2016). Note what appears to be white powderchunky-spore-like material (lepros) littering the surface (see Figure 14 for a 200% magnification of the white material lying upon the surface). Spherical specimens are approximately 3-8 mm in size.

SOURCES-Advances in Microbiology – Fungi on Mars? Evidence of Growth and Behavior From Sequential Images
Written By Brian Wang,

51 thoughts on “Mars Life? Fungi-like Growth”

  1. The asteroid Ceres has enuf material to make O'Neill Settlements with 200 times the surface area of the Earth. "recreating a home" is our primary task. Join us.

  2. The last (mostly) undisturbed ecosystem is supposed to be the Antarctic ocean. I think you'd have trouble recreating a home for sperm whales, toothfish, krill and pack ice protozoa in orbit.

  3. Yes, preserve/understand the remaining remnants of Earth system by reproducing what is left in O'Neill habs. Get our machines and energy production off the planet NOW so we destroy less in the future. But not AFTER we have fixed the Earth!!!!

  4. I'd say we're better off trying to understand an existing ecosystem (in so far as we can understand it ) before we try to manufacture an ersatz one from scratch. Though if you aren't too worried about the welfare and happiness of the occupants, go right ahead.

  5. I cant wait for Musk to unravel the mystery of the pyramids, face and fungus of Mars.

  6. For sure the notion that this stuff is fungi as defined here on earth is nonsense. However I’d like to see a proper rebuttal to the claims of shifting distributions over time.

  7. Would be the discovery of the century.
    However, could also be calcite crystals or so.

  8. Got my attention. Too bad it seems to be fake.

    Never even thought of fungi, although I do expect that once we get deep underground there will be a few extremophiles living in solid rock, miles down, just as there are on Earth. Unfortunately, I expect that they will actually be closely related to those on Earth, with a shared origin, rather than something from an entirely new tree-of-life.

  9. A bit of a downer, but you could always do an article on how the peer review system is broken and bad science gets published.

  10. Hello DrPat, yes, the italics are gone. They came and disappeared mysteriously.. We may never now what caused them…

    Anywho. I think that we should simply let the different actors colonize what they like. If someone wants to make space habitats, then Elon will sell launch capacity so that they can pursue their dream. And Elon will colonize Mars. Everybody will be happy.

    And even though I don't know the specifics of the technical difficulties, I would put my money on Mars for round 1, since there is abundant materials for rocket fuel and for habitats. The proof will be in the eating of the pudding… We don't need to figure out what is best from theory, we just need to observe how reality plays out…

  11. Now, except for Mars or other places that *may* have life, the "make sure that we wouldn't mess things up before we really understand it" theory means we should leave Earth before we do any more of that here.

  12. Why didn't they use robotic arm(drill) to puncture them. 3-8 mm is not too small? If they used the drill on fungus instead on mineral/rock it would end up differently.

  13. The toadstool walked into a crowded bar. He was told to leave because there was *no mushroom*.

  14. I don't know, a lot of that could just be the dust blowing around to uncover things. If NASA doesn't comment, I'm very skeptical.

  15. The last thing we need is to find some fungi or similar. Then they could be against human missions or want to delay them,…

  16. It's nice to see truth being valued in this age of dumb stuff. Thanks, Brian. Great article, by the way. A fun read.

  17. As I originally mentioned: if this was a serious NASA announcement of "We really think this is alien life, guys" then it would be a major press conference, not a paper submitted to a journal.
    This appears to be an internal debate between groups, and with (as stated by Cluebat below) the alien theory supporters facing the serious uphill struggle in terms of needing the most extraordinary evidence to support an extraordinary claim.

  18. A couple more things: The paper I quote above says most of the objects called hematite spherules were oblong, not spherical. No. At the time, when the raw photos were coming back to Earth and no one yet knew what they were, I looked in fascination at thousands of them in many photos and nearly all wqere spherical. Yes, there were some odd-shaped ones, and even some broken in half. This was very obvious. So when these "researchers" say most were oblong, I wonder about their other odd claims as well, for instance growth.

  19. I'm one of these people who doesn't think that Mars offers a great colonising potential. That colonising asteroids and comets would be just as technically difficult while offering more long term potential. Hence I'd say that the decision is in favour of keeping the only known aliens alive as long as possible.

    But to steelman* this argument: Given the choice between the best option we have to expand off the Earth, and wiping out a particular special fungus, then… we can make a zoo or something.

    *Steelman argument: the opposite of a strawman argument. Instead of the weakest version of a position, try to argue against the strongest version.

    ** Hey! The italics have gone.

  20. Okay, I see where this came from. After looking at the paper below comparing the early hematite hypothesis to their "fungus" idea, as much as I would love them to find fungus on Mars, the hematite idea still makes more sense. Their main claim is that the hematite idea was based on inference, as they hadn't used hematite-specific instruments. Well, calling them "fungus puffballs" is certainly an inference as well. Even worse, they're seeing what they want to see. Seeing on Mars what they're used to seeing here on Earth. Like that face.

  21. Yes, the hematite theory explains all the photos of spheres.
    Important points from Stan's link:

     The Mössbauer spectrometer was used to confirm the mineralogy of the spherules as hematite. A rock abrasion tool (RAT) was used to cut some of the spherules and concluded that spherules are also very hard.

  22. A philosophical question. Suppose that we understand the life on Mars ( which may not exist at all) fully, but colonizing Mars would wipe it out. Do you think the value of the fungi outweights the value of a mars colony, or vice versa?

  23. Yes on the italics.

    I'd say that fungi killing the colonizers is the least of the problems, because you'd need to be isolated from the environment anyway because of both toxic chemicals in the soil and that whole vacuum thing.
    But yes, the greenies would be horrified, and they would have a huge number of people on their side. I'd agree with them for once. Actual alien life is far too major a discovery to risk messing it up.

    Not that I'd say Mars is off limits forever. But it would certainly be a case that landing a colony there this decade would be FAR too quick for us to make sure that we wouldn't mess things up before we really understand it.

  24. Considering the variety of different types of growths, including some small individuals . . . I guess I'm on the side of "this is Martian life!"

  25. Well, is this the second or third time NASA is claiming to have found life on Mars? And every time so far, its been a false alarm.

  26. So you think that the greenies would stop him from colonizing Mars on account of the fungi, or would it be the risk that the fungi could kill the colonizers? (By the way, on my smartphone, all the comments are in italic text. Is it like that for anyone else?)

  27. We'd certainly like to see if these growths are composed of cells, and if these cells have some kind of rna/dna.

    Well, SpaceX could soon have a human on Mars to do some observations!

  28. This could be some kind of crystal growths; but, I'd call that pretty weird crystal growths. There's some growths with hollow inner parts(maybe suggesting how the first cells formed).

    I'm on the side of this is very proto-life to life like growths.

  29. After reading the paper I guess there is a controversy brewing that NASA seems to be ignoring. Whether they have enough evidence to justify ignoring this I cannot tell.

  30. This would explain some of the weird stuff about Moon landers, Mars in general. I sense a mushrooming story.

  31. There was a cat on Mars, but the rover landed right on top of it. Curiosity killed the cat.

  32. This reads very much like NASA has been gathering all the information, photos, and data they could for months and months.
    Making sure they get all their ducks in a row. Dot their i s. Cross their t s.
    Take photos from other probes and other rovers.
    Make sure that the evidence was a huge pile of cross-referenced, backed up, solid-as-possible results before they dared say anything in public.

    And then it came out in a microbiology journal rather than a full live press conference? I am confused.

    One thing's for sure: If this even remotely pans out, then Elon Musk is looking for a new colonisation target. (Asteroids!)

  33. Apply the Sagan Standard- "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
    Resist any attempt to proscribe exploration justified by this or any other specious evidence.
    Pointy-Haired bureaucrats would love to manage space for us.

  34. After obliteration of spherical specimens by the rover wheels…

    Find alien life. Kill it.

    Or if it really was the fruiting bodies of fungi

    FInd alien life. Crush their reproductive organs.

    And we wonder why they are going to try to blow up our planet.

  35. Amazing. So the next rover we send should be able to make slides and have a high powered light microscope or better, specialized for biological samples. Until we can see movement in real-time, at the cellular level, there will remain doubt.

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