Russian cosmonauts have discovered something remarkable clinging to the outside of the International Space Station: living organisms.
The microscopic creatures appeared during a space walk intended to clean the vessel's surface, and were allegedly identified — incredibly — as a type of sea plankton. This is big: According to Sploid, Russian scientists are both "shocked by [the] discovery and can't really explain how [it] is possible."
"Results of the experiment are absolutely unique," Russian ISS Orbital Mission Chief Vladimir Solovyev told the ITAR-TASS News Agency. "This should be studied further."
Although more than 1,000 exoplanets have been discovered since the first one was found in 1995, only a handful of those are thought to be habitable, at least by life as we know it. New research shows that exomoons, too, could provide habitable environments. Although we are yet to find exomoons, we have good reasons to believe that there should be many, even more than exoplanets.
Through routine quality control testing, a researcher working with Markus Ralser, who would eventually become the lead researcher for the project, stumbled upon signs of the metabolic process where, for all intents and purposes, there shouldn't have been. Until now, much of the science community has generally agreed that Ribonucleic acid, or RNA, was the first building block of life because it produces enzymes that could catalyze complex sequences of reactions such as metabolic action. However, Ralser's lab found the end products of the metabolic process without any presence of RNA. Instead, the findings indicate that complex and life-forming reactions like these could occur spontaneously given the right, but surprisingly simple, conditions.