London, England – Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey are using satellite images to track colonies of Emperor Penguins by the stains on the Antarctic ice caused by their guano.
The penguins can grow to four feet tall and weigh as much as 80 pounds. As a result, the ice gets ‘pretty dirty’ say the scientists who have located 38 colonies on the satellite images, including ten that were previously unknown.
The satellite images are more accurate that the previous method of tracking the birds by ship or helicopter. Higher resolution images can hopefully be used to count the number of penguins in each colony and keep track of any decline in numbers.
Peter Fretwell, co-author of the study and geographic information officer at the British Antarctic Survey, said the discovery would revolutionize the way scientists kept tabs on penguins.
Apart from penguin crap, other objects visible from space include the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Wall of China and landfill sites full of unwanted AOL CDs. Sightings of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in 2002 owed rather more to overactive imagination than high resolution satellite imagery.