Ishman Rajput

Ishman Rajput

School: North Delta Secondary School

City: Delta, British Columbia

Topic: Triton

"Triton, Neptune’s largest and most strange moon, deserves to be speculated for ground-breaking research. Triton has many unique features that no other moon in the solar system does. For example, due to Triton’s icy surface, it reflects 90% of the light it gets from the sun; therefore, it is freezing, in fact, it is one of the coldest known objects in the solar system. Triton also has volcanos but, unlike the usual spewing of lava, these ice volcanoes release nitrogen gas and dust into its atmosphere. Also, Triton’s atmosphere is 78% nitrogen, the same as Earth, while the rest is methane. That is not the only similarity between Triton and our home planet. Since Triton’s crust is water ice, there may be water deeper under the surface. Also, like Earth, Triton is one of the few places in the solar system with geological movement; therefore, it has hills and different terrains.

Artist's view of Voyager 2 at Triton
The bizarre fact about Triton is that it is the only moon that is in a retrograde orbit, meaning that it orbits in the opposite direction Neptune orbits. This exciting feature suggests that Triton did not form around Neptune but, instead, most likely arrived from the Kuiper’s Belt. For this reason, Triton can help scientists explore the Kuiper’s Belt more in-depth as well as what lies beyond it. Kuiper’s Belt contains leftovers from early history, and Triton might even reveal how the world came to be. Another unique characteristic of Triton is that its orbit is on an incline. There is always one side that faces Neptune, and if a human were to be on that side, Neptune’s equatorial region, northern pole, and southern pole would all be visible. This perspective can provide us with visuals of Neptune that even our moon cannot offer of Earth.

It is quite evident that Triton is not a suitable setting for humans or organisms to live on, but it is a unique moon that can reveal so much about the universe. When the Voyager 2 captured an image of Triton, it could only catch half of its surface and learn a few facts. Scientists must explore Triton early, because Neptune is slowing down Triton’s orbit, and soon enough, it would stop, and Neptune will swallow Triton, leaving a ring around itself. Even though this event is far into the future, it should still be a priority to explore Triton before too many changes occur. Looking back at the theory that there might be water deep inside Triton, is it possible that organisms are inhabiting there? Or, due to its icy conditions, can Triton be preserving something from the past deep inside its core? Does the retrograde orbit affect Triton in any way? There are so many questions, but only one way to find the answer to all of them, to send another spacecraft aimed towards Triton."

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