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Mars It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal of Cosmology Contributor Sues NASA To Investigate Mars "Donut" 140

An anonymous reader writes "Rhawn Joseph, a self-described astrobiologist involved with the infamous Journal of Cosmology, is suing NASA, demanding 100 high-resolution photos and 24 micrographs be taken of the 'donut' rock that recently appeared in front of the Opportunity rover on Mars, on the basis that it is a living organism. The remarkable full text of the complaint, which cites NASA's mineralogical analysis of the rock as evidence against it being a rock, is available to read at Popular Science." Really, the lawsuit is worth a read.
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Journal of Cosmology Contributor Sues NASA To Investigate Mars "Donut"

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  • by GPS Pilot ( 3683 ) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @02:01PM (#46101755)

    Dr. Squyres says that if this object has been recently flipped over, "we are seeing the surface, the underside of a rock, that hasn't seen the Martian atmosphere for perhaps billions of years."

    Trouble is, unless he's proposing that the underside of this rock was somehow vacuum-sealed against atmospheric influence, it has very much been exposed to the gases of the Martian atmosphere.

    The undersides of rocks experience a different environment due to less exposure to wind erosion and the UV component of sunlight. But as far as being exposed to the gases that make up the atmosphere, the undersides are about as exposed at the topsides.

    Most if not all of the minerals observed on Mars have been seen before, on Earth. Can you think of a terrestrial example of a rock whose underside has a significantly different chemical composition than its topside? I can't.

  • by Bill_the_Engineer ( 772575 ) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @02:11PM (#46101909)
    Rhawn Joeseph is trying to bully NASA into giving him access to the science data without having to wait for the mission scientists to publish their findings. There are procedures in place and Rhawn will just have to wait like everyone else.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @02:41PM (#46102293)

    Just from the depths of my armchair: perhaps because the data comes in formats that are completely useless to the public, and it takes time for NASA to decompress/deconvert/decrypt/convolve/whatever them? Maybe they can do their own analysis with the data in a raw-ish format, but to give us the real numbers and sort out the metadata flags that say "This sensor is currently busted" takes more time?

  • by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @02:42PM (#46102305)

    Why are those procedures in place? It's public data, why can't the public see it as soon as NASA gets it?

    The data is public data and anybody is free to intercept the 1s and 0s streaming back from Mars. OTOH, converting those 1s and 0s to images is costly and time consuming. Expediting the process is even more costly and time consuming and means either additional staff will be needed or people will be pulled off of other tasks.

    So the question is whether or not the access to this information is more important than whatever information will be delayed by diverting resources to obtain it more quickly? The answer depends on whether you want this piece of information or you are still in the queue.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @03:07PM (#46102617)

    Rhawn is bullying NASA for the simple fact that he wants the data, and if NASA agrees that the item is biological in nature, then he wants the court to force NASA to have Rhawn as first author on its publications regarding this item. In other words, he wants the prestige of being a researcher in a project he had no hands in, and wants all the credit for a find he didn't find.

  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <fairwaterNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @03:13PM (#46102663) Homepage

    As a sop to the scientists who, as the public's proxy, have spent years or decades working on the instrument that gathered the data. They took the risk to their careers, and as member of the public I have no problem with giving them first crack at reaping the rewards.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @04:03PM (#46103135)

    Costly and time consuming?

    Really, you are going with that?

    The 90 day mission has stretched to 10 years. They somehow found money to keep these guys employed all those years, they are on the payroll till the rover dies.

    What other random thing in the drive-able vicinity is likely to be MORE interesting? This Rover has accomplished just about all it can possibly do with its worn out tools, aging batteries, lame wheels, etc. There is probably nothing more interesting than this rock, and spending the effort (which surely they must be very well practiced and efficient at, considering the ten years they have had to perfect their craft) to evaluate it and release the data is no big deal.

    You can go to the JPL site and search all the photos [nasa.gov], so its not like they don't have more to give.

  • Re:Very funny. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by amRadioHed ( 463061 ) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @04:54PM (#46103589)

    Actually, NASA would do well to drive the Rover back there and study the hell out of it, if nothing else than to put the whack-job conspiracy nuts to shame.

    You're assuming that whack-job conspiracy nuts can be shamed, an idea which is not supported by the evidence.

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