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Waspie_Dwarf

Does Triton Have a Subsurface Ocean?

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Does Triton Have a Subsurface Ocean?

Triton was discovered in 1846 by the British astronomer William Lassell, but much about Neptune’s largest moon still remains a mystery. A Voyager 2 flyby in 1989 offered a quick peak at the satellite, and revealed a surface composition comprised mainly of water ice. The moon’s surface also had nitrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide. As Triton’s density is quite high, it is suspected that it has a large core of silicate rock. It is possible that a liquid ocean could have formed between the rocky core and icy surface shell, and scientists have investigated if this ocean could have survived until now.

Captured from the Kuiper Belt

Triton has a unique property among large solar system moons; it has a retrograde orbit. Planets form from a circumstellar disc of dust and gas that surrounds a young star. This disc circles the star in one direction, and thus the planets and their moons must also orbit in this same direction. These orbits are known as prograde, and a rogue object that orbits backwards is said to be in a retrograde orbit. The retrograde orbit of Triton means that it most likely did not form around Neptune.

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