Irene Wang

Irene Wang

School: Crosby Heights Public School

Teacher: Jennifer Boehlke

City: Richmond Hill, Ontario

Topic: Triton

"I opened up the new 2012 agenda handed out by the teacher, and flipped through it, all the way to the last few pages, where shapes, colors, and cycle diagrams were displayed-- those were my favorite pages. However on the second page, there was a new unfamiliar section: The Planets of the Solar System. There was a picture of all the planets orbiting the Sun, and under that, the names of each planet, their distance from the Sun and Earth, and lists of the moons of each planet. The planet I was most interested was Neptune; there was something about it that stood out to me the most; what was it? The milky, dark blue color, the distance from the sun, the name?

Artist's view of Voyager 2 at Triton
I thought that Triton, Neptune’s largest moon, would be the best moon to explore. Neptune was named after the Roman god of the sea, and it’s largest moon’s name, Triton, has the same meaning as its planet--The god of the sea, but of Greek origin; I like seeing correlation between things. Another reason why I chose Triton is, of course, for its unusual but unique, retrograde orbit around its planet, where its direction of rotation is opposite to Neptune’s, and because of this, people can assume that Triton was captured by Neptune from elsewhere, which I found unusual. The surface of this moon is also considerably unique, as it is made of nitrogen ice, water ice, dry ice, and small amounts of methane and carbon monoxide; what I found most intriguing is that because the nitrogen is condensed as frost, giving its surface an icy sheen that reflects 70% of the sunlight that hits it. It turns out that the surface of Neptune’s neighboring dwarf planet, Pluto, is also made up of very similar substances or materials. Pluto also has its status in the Kuiper Belt, and scientists think Triton is a Kuiper Belt Object captured by Neptune's gravity millions of years ago, thus suggesting a possibility that Triton’s origin could be connected to Pluto’s. This moon is so thought-provoking and stimulating--more than the other moons, Miranda and Charon, in my opinion. More ideas, thoughts, and theories can be uncovered, by further exploring it, and I am determined to find more.

I think that there’s much more to this moon than it seems, and in my opinion it’s the best moon to explore. Although it may seem very far and distant, people shouldn’t hesitate to go ahead and make new discoveries; as André Gide once said: “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

Solar System News