The James Webb Telescope detected carbon dioxide in a specific area on the icy surface of the icy moon. This carbon dioxide comes from the ocean beneath the kilometre-thick surface of the ice. So the carbon does not come from a meteorite impact.
“We think we have evidence that the carbon on Europa’s surface comes from the ocean,” said Samantha Trumbo, a researcher at Cornell University. “This is not just a thing. Carbon is an essential part of life.”
Although the discovery does not directly point to a sign of life beneath the moon’s thick, icy surface, it does appear to be a good place to start searching.
Research on the icy moon will increase in the coming years. For example, next year NASA will launch the Europa Clipper space probe, which will fly along the surface of the ice.
Earlier this year, the European Space Agency sent a Jupiter probe to Jupiter’s moons. Juice is expected to fly above the surface twice in 2032.
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