Does Mars have mushrooms or are they hallucinating?

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An international team of scientists from various countries have gathered and compiled photographic evidence that they claim shows fungus-like objects growing on Mars.

The scientists have analysed the images taken by NASA’s Opportunity and Curiosity rovers, as well as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE camera. The scientists have published the paper on the advances of microbiology. The said objects show white coloured spherical shaped objects ” which the Mars Opportunity team initially said to be a mineral called hematite.

Some further studies later refuted the mineral hematite claim. Not long there after some scientists claimed the term “Martian mushrooms” to describe these spherical objects, because of how they resemble lichens and mushrooms. While fungi and lichen experts classified these objects as “puffballs” which is a white, spherical fungus belonging to the phylum Basidiomycota found here on Earth.

The scientists point to a set of Opportunity photos that shows nine of these spheres becoming larger in size, on top of that an additional 12 spheres were emerging from the soil, over a course of 3 days. The researchers said that Martian winds didn’t uncover the spheres, and they “expand in size, or conversely, change shape, move to new locations, and/or wane in size and nearly disappear.”

The paper continues to state “Many of these ground-level spherical specimens also have stalks or have shed portions of their outer membranes—possibly crustose—and are surrounded by white chunks and fluffy spore-like material that may consist of leprose.”

Crustose and leprose are kinds of fungus surface textures, where crust or scales form and can flake away.

The scientists carefully documented all the ways their so claimed fungi changed from one photo to the next. “White amorphous mass alters shape, location, and almost completely disappears from inside the crevice of a rock shelter over a three day (Sol) period,” This is their explanation for the photo below.

Fungi are one of the only known living things that could noticeably grow and change so rapidly in just a few days.

The scientists do state that the “evidence” they present isn’t ironclad, writing that “similarities in morphology are not proof of life.”

“It is possible that all the specimens presented here are abiotic. We cannot completely rule out minerals, weathering, and unknown geological forces that are unique to Mars and unknown and alien to Earth. However, growth, movement, alterations in location and shape, constitute behaviour, and coupled with life-like morphology, strongly support the hypothesis there is life on Mars.”

Now believe it or not if these were to be fungi, it wouldn’t come as such a surprise, as we have here on earth what they call extremophiles, which is a type of fungi that can thrive in conditions we would think are too extreme.

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