Athena Huynh and Christopher Hogan
School: St Joseph Catholic School
Teacher: Sherri Durant
City: Richardson, Texas
Neptune’s Icy Satellite
"In 1989, Voyager 2 flew by Neptune’s largest moon and sent back close-up, detailed pictures of the icy, natural satellite. Triton’s structure is like no other, including a surface similar to a cantaloupe and many other intriguing attributes. Revisiting this moon would provide further knowledge on how geologically active moons behave. Unlike multiple other moons, Triton has a thin atmosphere; observing the differences between Earth’s atmosphere and Triton’s would inform NASA how atmospheres correlate to the certain moon or planet’s environmental conditions. If NASA desires to be informed about interstellar space exploration, then the organization must reexplore Triton.
Unlike many other planets and natural satellites of the solar system, Triton is geologically active and has numerous geysers, volcanoes, and tectonics. Triton is one of less than ten geologically active planetoids in the solar system, meaning revisiting this moon could give us a rare close look at what happens on a satellite like Triton. Unlike the geysers on Earth, Triton’s geysers erupt nitrogen gases back into the atmosphere. Even though Triton is more than one billion miles away from the sun and has a frozen exterior, this celestial body must have a heated center. Without a heating element, Triton’s geysers would not be able to erupt. Additionally, though this may seem unusual to some, Triton has volcanoes that spew ice. All the built-up nitrogen gasses rise to the surface carrying ice and other particles from the planet’s interior causing this amazing outburst.
Triton has a thin atmosphere, a rarity among moons. Similar to Earth’s atmosphere, Triton’s is composed mostly of nitrogen. Since Triton has an atmosphere, more than likely there is wind on the moon's surface. At sea level, Triton's atmospheric pressure is less than 1/70,000 of Earth’s. Triton’s gravitational pull is so tenuous that a 120-lb person would weigh only about nine pounds.
All in all, going back to Triton would give the world a better understanding of how the universe works. No other moon is like this. Reexploring Triton would be like discovering a new world with an infinite amount of possibilities."