Astronomers analyzing data from the James Webb telescope have identified carbon dioxide in a specific region on the icy surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa, reported AFP and the press service of the European Space Agency (ESA).
The carbon dioxide is from an ocean beneath Europa’s surface, not brought to this moon by meteorites or other external objects. The discovery fuels hopes that this hidden water contains life.
Scientists are convinced that a vast ocean of salty water lies several tens of kilometers below the icy surface of Europa, making Jupiter’s moon an ideal candidate for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System. Carbon dioxide, which, along with water, is a fundamental component of life, has already been detected on Europa, but scientists could not determine its origin.
For this purpose, two American research teams used data from the James Webb telescope and published the results of their analysis in the journal Nature. The largest amounts of carbon dioxide are found in an area 1,800 kilometers wide known as the Tara region.
The first study used information from James Webb to determine whether the carbon dioxide could come from a source external to Europa, such as a meteorite. The conclusion is that the carbon came from an internal source, possibly Europa’s inner ocean, Samantha Trumbo, a planetary explorer at Cornell University and lead author of the study, told AFP.
The second study also concluded that the carbon came from Europa, one of Jupiter’s three icy moons.
Illustrative Photo by Joonas kääriäinen: https://www.pexels.com/photo/clouds-under-full-moon-239107/