Fungi On Planet Mars
Fungi is a unique organism on our planet, and perhaps others too. There’s various fungi species that have unique fungi characteristics. Fungi survives in space.
Where does fungi live? Fungi lives everywhere… that includes mushroom fungi. Sure, you might expect to find some mushrooms happily growing on the forest floor, but fungi can also grow on the ocean floor or even in space.
Scientists have found fungi in the strangest places of our planet: in deserts, on the frozen peaks of mountains where humans would need oxygen masks to survive, and deep underground in cave systems where the sunlight has never touched a single stalactite.
Mushrooms in Space – Mushroom Spores Living In Space
Fungi has even been confirmed to be capable of survival in space, having been found living inside the Mir space station and, crucially, able to survive outside the space station too. For more facts about interstellar fungi, check out our post Mushroom Spores Can Survive in Space. But Are They FROM Space? which asks a question that’s more plausible than you might suppose at first guess.
Fungi Is An Extremophile Organism That Can Live Anywhere
Fungi is considered an extremophile, which basically means that it’s an organism that can live anywhere. So, it really comes at no surprise—although it’s undeniably interesting—that a group of scientists claim that they’ve discovered life on Mars, and yes, it’s fungi. Given the inhospitality of the planet, what else could it be?
Study Claims that Life Exists on Mars, and It’s Fungi
In the study published in the journal Advances in Microbiology, a group of researchers including Dr. Rhawn Gabriel Joseph, Microbiologist Dr. Xinli Wei of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Harvard-Smithsonian astrophysicist Dr Rudolph Schild.
Mushroom Fungi Facts
The detailed study, linked above, in a series of mushroom fungi facts claims that fungal life, including mushrooms, are not only present and living on mars, but that we have photographic evidence of them thanks to the efforts of NASA’s rover programs and the HiRISE camera program, which is an orbiting high resolution imaging system capable of taking incredibly clear pictures—despite being in space, it could take a clear image of an object the size of a kitchen table.
What makes the study interesting is that it looks at this image data in a sequential manner and asks what could be causing the obvious changes. The researchers think that it’s fungal growth. Take this series of images for example:
The above images were taken over the course of about a month and feature a Martian dune. The image on the far left is day one, the center image is day 22, and the image on the far right is day 34. Something is clearly happening—the blotchy, linear dark patches appear to “grow” at a rate of at least 5 meters per day. It seems like a lot, but terrestrial mushrooms are capable of extremely fast colonization, so it isn’t out of the question.
Here, we have photographs taken by the Mars Opportunity rover:
Left, we see terrestrial “puffball” mushrooms (ones growing here on Earth). To the right, an image taken by Opportunity which the researchers claim are too similar to dismiss as simple rocks.
Again we see Earth puffballs on the left and supposed Mars puffballs on the right. In this image, the researchers propose that they’re shedding their crustose veil.
The study is certainly fascinating and worth reading—but do the researchers suffer from confirmation bias due to a previous conflict with NASA?
Concerns of Confirmation Bias: Is What We’re Seeing REALLY Fungi?
Readers who regularly follow Mars-related fungi sightings (because really, who doesn’t?) may recall the name of one of the lead researchers on the study we’ve been discussing today: Rhawn Joseph.
Joseph has something of a storied past with NASA—he’s even sued them before. In in 2014, Joseph brought a lawsuit against NASA to attempt to compel them to further investigate the infamous mysterious Mars rock, otherwise known as Pinnacle Island.
The mystery rock, or Pinnacle Island, was an alleged rock which spontaneously appeared in a spot where it wasn’t before, according to data collected by the Mars Opportunity rover. Here are the comparison images released by NASA:
It’s quite difficult to find an online news outlet which hasn’t scoffed at, dismissed, or outright mocked Joseph for the lawsuit against NASA. We’ll refer you to this snarky Space.com article on Mars fungus.
While the author of this post isn’t nearly intelligent enough to take sides with any of the parties involved in the mystery rock debate, one does have to admit that there’s a certain weirdness behind the behavior of NASA scientists regarding the thing.
When the mystery rock was first discovered, scientist Steve Squyres, lead scientist behind the Opportunity rover project, said, “It looks like a jelly doughnut. And it appeared, it just plain appeared, at that spot and we haven’t driven over that spot.”
However, just a few short weeks later, NASA (conveniently?) dismissed the mystery of the mystery rock outright, saying that “We drove over it. We can see the track. That’s where Pinnacle Island came from,” the official explanation being that the rover had simply kicked up the rock with a wheel. After these statements, the rock was never investigated again, despite Joseph’s (and other’s) pleading.
Expand Your Mind and Your Microscopy Skills With Our Exotic Mushroom Spores Starting With A Liquid Culture Syringe for Golden Teachers
You don’t have to leave Earth to have a mind expanding journey—all you have to do is get started in the amateur microscopy hobby! The best way to get started is with a liquid culture syringe which is full of mushroom spores to start your microscopy journey.
Mushroom Fungi Cross-Strain: Hero Cross Strain of Mushroom Fungi
One of the most fascinating specimens to study under your microscope are mushroom spores, more specifically start with spores in the Golden Teacher Mushroom spores syringe, which is part of a wide selection of exotic mushroom spores and mushroom cross strain fungi choices (ie. Hero Mushroom Cross-Strain) in nearly all of the United States.
Sorry though, all of our spores fungi are from planet Earth!