James Webb Telescope

James Webb Telescope Unveils Secrets of Europa’s Carbon Dioxide: Clues to an Ocean’s Story

Carbon Dioxide Origins Beneath Europa's Icy Surface Revealed

Emily Martin, a planetary geologist at the National Air and Space Museum, explains that scientists believe Tara Regio’s icy surface fractured when the moon’s climate warmed. This warming caused water from the hidden subsurface ocean to rise, creating a slushy, icy water area. Crucially, prior observations from the Hubble telescope indicate the presence of table salt in this region, supporting the notion that saltwater ascended from the moon’s depths to its surface.

A Remarkable Parallel with Earth

If the carbon dioxide indeed originates from Europa’s ocean and not from meteoric sources or other external factors, it establishes a striking similarity between our planet and this distant moon. Europa has long captivated scientists as a potential contender for extraterrestrial life due to the possibility of subsurface oceans. In a significant step toward understanding these prospects, the European Space Agency launched the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) in April this year. JUICE aims to conduct detailed observations of Jupiter’s ocean-bearing moons, including Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa.