NASA has found possible signs of life

NASA has found possible signs of life

Observations from the James Webb Space Telescope indicate that carbon, an essential building block for life, exists in an ocean beneath Europa's icy surface.

On September 21, 2023, Science magazine published the remarkable study describing the discovery of carbon on this icy moon. Two teams of independent astronomers collaborated on this work, each tasked with detecting signs of a space observatory on the moon.

The study results strongly indicate the presence of significant amounts of carbon dioxide on the surface of Europa, providing promising indications of possible life.

He writes Times of India.

The key may lie in the Moon Sea

Jeronimo Villanueva, lead author of the study, stressed the importance of chemical diversity for life on Earth, saying that greater diversity increases the likelihood of life. He further explained that Europe's oceans hold the key to determining whether coal gas contributes to life or prevents it.

Europa stands out as one of the few celestial bodies in our solar system where scientists believe life could exist. Beneath the thick ice sheet is an ocean that contains twice as much water as Earth's oceans.

But NASA reminds us that the presence of carbon alone is not enough for life to flourish; It requires an energy source, for example organic nutrients, and a continuous supply of organic molecules.

Supported by previous results

After Webb's discovery of carbon on Europa's surface, scientists began a study to determine whether this carbon came via meteorites (space rocks) or originated from the depths of the moon's oceans.

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They turned their attention to the Taro Reggio region in Europe, where a large concentration of carbon dioxide was found. Taro Reggio appears as a rugged area with abundant ice, indicating surface movements and changes. This means that materials from the depths of the sea may have emerged.

Since carbon dioxide is unstable on Europa's surface, the team concluded that it likely originated in the lunar ocean.

Samantha Trumbo, a researcher at Cornell University, explained that the carbon dioxide found on Europa is believed to originate from the depths of the ocean, which is an important discovery given the fundamental importance of carbon in biological life.

Trumbo also noted that the Hubble Space Telescope had previously identified ocean-derived salts in the same area, supporting the idea that carbon may have emerged with these salts.

There is no conclusive evidence

According to NASA, Villanueva's team was looking for evidence of clouds of water vapor exploding from Europa's surface, a phenomenon initially observed in previous years using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

However, the latest data from the Webb telescope revealed no evidence of vertical activity, allowing the team to set a strict upper limit on potential material ejection rates.

They stressed that their failure to detect does not definitively rule out the presence of plumes, leaving open the possibility that plumes are sporadic and can only be observed at specific times.

These findings have implications for NASA's Europa Clipper mission and ESA's Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) mission, providing valuable information about the moon's enigmatic geology.

Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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