Thanks to comets on the moon of Jupiter there may be life: what scientists have found out
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Comet impacts on Europa's surface could help infiltrate the building blocks of life into its subterranean ocean.
Comet impact on Jupiter's moon Europa could help move critical ingredients for life found on the moon's surface into its subsurface ocean from liquid water, even if the impacts do not completely break through the icy shell of Europa, scientists say, writes SciTechDaily.
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As part of a new study, scientists from the University of Texas, USA, created a computer model to observe what happens after a comet impact or an asteroid against the icy shell of Europa, which is estimated to be tens of kilometers thick.
The study showed that if the comet pierces even half of the icy surface of Europa, then the melted ice in the form of hot water will pierce the rest of the satellite’s shell and transfer oxidizers, chemicals necessary for life, which are on the surface, to the underground ocean. Thus, potential living microorganisms can exist in the underground ocean.
“We believe that such impact events increase the likelihood that Europa will have the necessary chemical ingredients for life in the underground ocean,” says Mark Hesse of the University state of Texas.
Whether oxidizing agents can get from the surface of Europa, where they naturally form into the ocean, is one of the most important questions in astronomy. Most likely, the Europa Clipper spacecraft, which in the near future will go to study the satellite of Jupiter, will be able to answer this question.
At the moment, scientists believe that the most likely way to transfer such building blocks of life into the ocean is precisely the collision of Europa with comets and asteroids. Scientists have discovered dozens of craters on the surface of the moon, many of which have a distinct undulating shape, which is evidence of frozen melt water and post-impact movement under the craters.
In this study, scientists simulated the environment of an impact crater after an 800-meter-diameter comet impact and how meltwater flows through ice to carry oxidizers. A study has shown that if a comet breaks through half of Europa's icy shell, then more than 40% of the melt water will fall into the ocean.
Like Europa, Saturn's moon Titan can also contain an ocean of liquid water under its icy shell. But Titan has a thicker shell than Europa, which is why scientists believe their study will help understand how impact events can affect other icy worlds.
Focus already wrote about the fact that there are small lakes in the ice shell of Europa and they can be erupted by streams of viscous ice, according to scientists.
As Focus already wrote, a New Year's comet flies to Earth, which can watch each. The long-period comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was originally thought to be an asteroid and is now moving closer and closer to the Sun.