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Comet impact on Jupiter’s moon Europa could bring ingredients for life, UT study finds

Comet impacts on Jupiter’s moon Europa could bring the potential for life into the hidden subsurface ocean, according to a study by scientists at the University of Texas.

Europa is more than five times farther from the Sun than Earth, according to NASA, but study lead author Evan Carnahan said scientists estimate there is more water on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn than on Earth. Carnahan said the study looked at what it would take to break through what they believe is an icy shell over Europa’s ocean to provide a “compatible chemical environment for life.”

“We see that (Europe) is littered with meteor impacts and asteroids hitting this outer shell,” said Carnahan, a UT graduate student. “One of the hypotheses previously was that if you take a really big meteor, it could collide with the outer ice shell and break through the ice shell tens of kilometers thick, which will mix all the ingredients you have for life on the surface. into this subsurface ocean and become a habitable ocean or a potentially habitable ocean.”

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