Aaviskar Paudyal

Aaviskar Paudyal

Grade: 12

School: Horizon Gautam Buddha School

City: Rupandehi

Topic: Triton

"Voyage around the cosmos is imperative for evolution of science coupled with our thinking. Ever since scientists were amazed by the elegant mysterious world; they began utilizing it as their grand laboratory. William Lassell discovered Triton within eight days, when John Herschel suggested him to seek moon for Neptune. In the same fashion, I urge NASA to send spacecraft to Triton which could possibly be the habitable moon.

Artist's view of Voyager 2 at Triton
Icy crust of Triton comprises mostly nitrogen ice, maximum of 35% water ice and carbon dioxide, methane in trace amount. Ammonia, as antifreeze in extreme low temperature is a plus point which may allow for life. Reduction in albedo since previous flyby adds to the fact that there is increase in temperature within nine years’ interval. The thin atmosphere is abundant with hydrocarbon and nitriles which are the sources for other biochemical compounds to support primitive life. In spite of its great distance from sun, the heating effect plays a crucial role over subsolar region which is enhanced by a kind of greenhouse effect caused by translucent layer of nitrogen.

All the geological activities on Triton are feasible due to tidal friction caused by synchronous rotation of the planet and its satellite. Voyager 2, during its first visit led to the discovery of active geysers and cryovolcanoes erupting liquid ammonia, nitrogen and water which also admit that the life evolving there may not be similar to that of the earth. They could use other substance which functions as liquid to bring nutrients close to the cells as our body uses water for the same purpose.

The usual concept of humans that “Water is a must for life to exist” might not apply in case of Triton.

Geomorphological map of Triton reveals huge amount of tholins in sub polar region and methane over south polar ice caps. Researchers think that radioactive decay undergoing inside the rocky core must have developed liquid ocean below the crust.

The increasing temperature, presence of organic compounds, ammonia, water, nitrogen and solvent working as nutrient carriers are major factors mandatory for abiogenesis. Furthermore, Triton has thermosphere where ultraviolet rays cause ionization effect which helps in synthesis of amino acids, organic polymers. Alike in Miller Urey experiment, thus formed carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids may be transformed to living molecules under favorable condition. Therefore, possibility of developing life from abiogenesis cannot simply be ignored.

There is no cent percent assurance that life exists on Triton and we cannot even expect of discovering something advanced than very primitive archaebacteria.

Instead discovery of such bacteria would be great news for all the astrobiologists around. Intense exploration of Triton would help us delve into insights of hallmarks obligatory for sustaining life. In my opinion, kicking off the proposed spacecraft Triton Hopper (powered by radioisotope rocket engine) would be great endeavor to demonstrate that moons could also support life in them."

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