ASTRONOMERS were flapping themselves on Friday night — after a penguin was spotted behind a rock on Mars.
Sun reader Steve Martin noticed the flightless bird’s head poking out on an official photo beamed from the Red Planet — sparking awkward questions for Nasa.
A Sun reader says this picture shows a penguin’s head poking out behind a rock on Mars
The extraterrestrial sighting caps a momentous week for space fans after the first image of a black hole and a crash-landing on the Moon.
Steve, 56, had been trawling through photos sent from Nasa’s Curiosity rover when he spotted the Humboldt penguin, which normally lives in South America.
He said: “I’ve always thought there was life on Mars and now I think I might have proved it.
“I have spent hours looking at Nasa images but I never thought I would find a penguin.
“I don’t know how it got up there but I hope Nasa carefully study the picture and can work out how and why.”
Nasa, monitoring Curiosity since it landed on Mars in 2012, has previously been accused by conspiracy theorists of keeping secrets about Moon landings and aliens.
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Steve spends hours trawling the US space agency’s website at his home in Kent. He said: “I’ve sent five or six other pictures to an image analyst who appeared on the TV show, NASA: The Unexplained Files. They have been taking a look.”
It is a mystery how the penguin would have reached our planetary neighbour — or how it has survived the airless conditions.
Getty – Contributor A Humboldt penguin on Earth – in Hamura Zoo specifically
The water-loving Humboldt would be diving into dust as only tiny amounts of liquid have been found there. It is also unlikely to find any mackerel to eat because no other life has been discovered there — yet.
The discovery comes after the first image of a black hole was released by scientists last week — taken from 500 million trillion km away.
Israel also became only the fourth country to land on the Moon when its craft crashed.
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But Steve said of his sighting: “This is clearly an important discovery — quite a few astronauts and scientists think the universe is chock-full of life.”
However he believes Earth is in no imminent danger, saying: “Unless Martian Pingu is readying a fleet of battleships — I think we’re safe.”
On Friday night Nasa sparked even more speculation by refusing to comment.
The picture Sun reader Steve Martin, 56, was scanning when he spotted the penguin
EPA The space buff was trawling through photos sent from Nasa’s Curiosity rover
Event Horizon Telescope It comes after the first image of a black hole was released by scientists last week
AFP or licensors The extraterrestrial sighting caps a momentous week after the Beresheet spacecraft, from Israel, crash-landed on the Moon
First ever picture of black hole revealed by astronomers