Federal Lawsuit Filed To Force NASA To Look More Closely At The Mars “Jelly Donut”

mosaic_2622x350-1For many people, the appearance of the mysterious rock in a picture from Mars was a great subject for breakfast discourse on whether it was kicked up by the Rover Opportunity or an alien creature with the world’s most unimpressive evolutionary progression. Rhawn Joseph, however, believes that he can force NASA to do more than speculate. Joseph is miffed that NASA will not take a closer look at the rock and has gone to court in Northern California to force the agency to investigate further. The rock is commonly called the “Jelly donut” due to its shape but scientists at NASA have named it “Pinnacle Island.”

Joseph is a self-described astrobiologist and is irate at the refusal of NASA to look more closely at the object. The photo was taken on January 8th or Sol 3540 (the 3,540th Martian solar day since the Mars rover Opportunity landed) and shows a rock that was not there in the photos taken on Sol 3536.

Joseph is demanding an order for NASA to “scientifically examine and investigate a putative biological organism.”

The filing rails against a position of the NASA that Joseph describes as “inexplicable, recklessly negligent and bizarre.” He insists that “[a]ny intelligent adult, adolescent, child, chimpanzee, monkey, dog or rodent with even a modicum of curiosity would approach, investigate and closely examine a bowl-shaped structure which appears just a few feet in front of them when 12 days earlier they hadn’t noticed it.”

However, NASA did take a look at the object and has largely concluded that it is a rock and likely unsettled by the Rover itself on a recent turn.

In the filing (which can be read here), Joseph writes:

Petitioner magnified images of specimen Sol 3540, taken on and after Mars’ day Sol 3540, and detected the presence of structures within and upon the top of the bowl-shaped specimen which resemble “paraphyses” and miniature fruiting bodies (Exhibit A). Parapheses are spore-producing tentacle-like growths typical of Apothecium. The Court, upon examining the pictorial evidence, is reminded that NASA refused to release high definition, high resolution photos, and published only very low resolution photos taken at a distance, and all of which appear to be slightly out-of-focus.

The scientific challenges for Joseph however pale in comparison to the legal challenges. He states now legal authority for ordering an agency to make such a decision which is left to its discretion and scientific judgment. In the meantime, he demands that the court direct the Rover team to investigate — effectively a federal court ordering relief on a different planet. Then he asks for various actions, including the following:

NASA must give the petitioner
A) the authority to act as an observer at the rover command facility to insure that the Court’s orders are carried out in good faith, and B)the authority to appoint two NASA astrobiologists to the rover team. 31.If the organism is biological, NASA must publicly acknowledge that the discovery was made by the Petitioner and must ensure that Petitioner appears as first author on and has final editorial approval of the first 6 scientific articles published or submitted for publication by NASA employees which discuss and present this discovery.

You may not be surprised to learn that this is a pro se complaint. Even without the hyperbole, such an action has virtually no chance for success in court. If Joseph is longing for a closer look at the jelly donut, he will have better luck at his local Dunkin’ Donuts than NASA.

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13 thoughts on “Federal Lawsuit Filed To Force NASA To Look More Closely At The Mars “Jelly Donut”

  1. I don’t see the plaintiff having any standing to merit his claim. But is is at least an interesting jurisdictional issue.

  2. we don’t know what it is or why it wasn’t here earlier but we came all this way so lets turn around and go look somewhere else.

    go nasa

    he should’ve sued to make them leave it alone and never look at it again. they’d be designing the rocket to go get it.

  3. What’s the scale? That must be the rover on the left & its pretty big so maybe its a small object like a ring of solder, gun metal or something like that from the rover. If the distance is short an action from the rover or expansion/contraction from heat/cold could ping it over there. Maybe I have the scale way out & the object ion the left s a photographing satelite, but scale would be key. I’m doing a little globetrotting on the cheap so I may not get my astronomy mag this time.
    But wait up! Putting on my Sherlock Holmes hat I see that the earlier picture shows more like the residual trace of the donut but slightly moved. But then it would mean the pictures were reversed & the donut was now gone but with a trace of its position blown a few inches, feet, or centimeters. (not knowing the scale) Wind could blow it to a slightly different position or all the way away, again, depending on scale.
    If this were original Star Trek or the Twilight Zone I would say a bunch of nano alluminites have got together & colonized a few meters from the rover, having replicated themselves into a defensible metal donut in a few days. Soon they will be big enough to take on this extraterestial monster from Earth in case it turns out to be unfriendly. If friendly, the nano alluminites will have a better chance of communicating with these Earthlings, having joined together a few trillion of its species in order to be seen by this primative invading race that has failed to notice the presence of inteligent life! (a repeat of ‘discovering’ America, perhaps)

  4. They should sue them for hoaxing the whole thing. The whole thing was filmed in the desert. There are lots of anomalies including gophers, lizards , and human debris. I know you dont want to believe that the same government that commited 911 has been tricking us for decades but it is all well documented on youtube. You all need to wake up fast or it will be to late.

  5. It would be funny if the court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction in the province of Meridiani Planum, since it is south of the Martian Equator.

  6. This is a great story! Hopefully this will be the first of many legal challenges to come as we delve deeper into our heavenly destiny.

  7. I am sure that the guy lacks standing….. Then again it might be moot as well as the US has basically shutdown its space program….. Now private contractors will do what NASA used to do….

  8. Send the ‘Plaintiffs’ to Mars, tomorrow, in our fastest rocket ship, to investigate… Who knows, maybe they’ll open a ‘Duncan Donuts’ shop…

  9. No one out there that can confirm scale? eg How far from one side of the pix to the other where the donut is? Any guesses?
    Alain, sure the government made a partial hoax out of 9/11, but don’t go mixing up two completely different things. There is more tech out there now than one person can easily comprehend; the wonder is that we are so far behind on space exploration.

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