DEBARATI DAS KNOWS HOW HARD IT IS TO FIND MUSHROOMS ON EARTH, LET ALONE ON ANOTHER PLANET.
So when Das, Mars scientist, Curiosity rover team member, and keen mushroom forager —heard that a team of researchers claim there are mushrooms on Mars, she was skeptical, to say the least.
Here’s the claim: In a new paper, the team use images captured by NASA’s Opportunity rover to show what they say are fungi on Mars — clear evidence of life on another planet. Somewhat incredibly, this paper has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
The paper is the latest in a series by Rhawn Joseph, a self-proclaimed neuroscientist who strongly believes that the proof for life on Mars is right in front of our eyes, despite most other members of the scientific community strongly disagreeing with him.
“Our team is advancing science, but those who oppose us are anti-science,” Joseph tells Inverse.
Das is firmly among the critics. While by day she is a graduate student at McGill University and a member of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory team, her foraging hobby gives her a pretty good idea of what it takes to make the right environment for a mushroom. For mushrooms to grow, she tells Inverse, they need to be a very specific temperature, rainfall, and humidity. Mars, for its part, has no rain, and no humidity.
“It’s quite complicated to find mushrooms even on Earth, so let alone on a planet that long ago lost its atmospheric water,” Das tells Inverse. “I don’t think the mushrooms would like that.”
Which begs the question: Why is a peer-reviewed journal apparently going to publish such spurious claims?
Read more: Mushrooms on Mars: A “Modern Day Galileo” Fights to Prove Alien Life Exists by Passant Rabbie