Scientists have been left confused after discovering feces of penguins that have phosphine, a chemical element they discovered 38 million miles away on Venus.
A report from The Daily Star said the experts are now planning to examine the Gentoo penguins' lifestyle. This is a penguin species that usually exists in the Falkland Islands.
It is believed that investigating the animals may help them detect organisms that are present on other planets. According to Imperial College London's Dr. Dave Clements, they are convinced the phosphine discovery is real, although they do not know what makes it.
More so, even though the discovery has left scientists baffled, Dr. Clements explained, "it could well be to do with the defense or signaling against competing microbes.
Oceana describes Gentoo penguins as native to sub-Antarctic islands where freezing temperatures allow perfect nesting, foraging, and breeding conditions.
Despite having icy habitats, this penguin species usually live in ice-free places such as rocky, flat beaches and low-lying cliffs where large colonies of individuals can gather.
Clements also said certain anaerobic microbes yield phosphine. It is found in pond slime, as well as the "guts of badgers and penguin guano."
In 2020, a similar Indy100 report said, astronomers found phosphine in the clouds of Venus, which they said, could suggest the existence of life.
At the time, added Clements, it would be great if such a phosphine detection means life has been detected, although, at that very moment, he elaborated, "it is not a smoking gun." Rather, it is only a clue of an indication of probability.
However, he continued explaining, if they gather enough evidence in the future to show it's there, the most persistent question now is on how its similarity is to life on this planet. More so, if it also uses DNA which would suggest a typical origin for life on Earth and Venus, or if it is totally different.
The discovery comes ahead of the launch of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope on December 18, 2021, which looks to unveil new and anticipated discoveries along with the origin of the universe and the human place in it.
Discovering Extraterrestrial Life
In connection to discovering life not just on Earth but on other planets, the James Webb telescope will examine deep space for the space agency as its main observatory in the coming years.
This project is in partnership with the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. According to Gregory Robinson, the program director of NASA, the ambitions space telescope launch could change how deep space is seen forever.
He also said the Webb telescope is an exemplary mission that denotes the epitome of perseverance. He continued, he is inspired by their team's dedication, as well as the global alliances that have made this incredible initiative possible.
Together, they have overcome technical struggles along the way and challenges during this global pandemic. Now that there is an observatory and rocket all set for launch, said Robinson, he is looking forward to the big day and the remarkable science ahead.
Related information about phosphine chemicals is shown on Prof Melko's YouTube video below: