Pran Traisorat

Pran Traisorat

Grade: 11

School: Bangkok Patana School

City: Bangkok

Topic: Triton

"Space exploration has been a topic of fascination for humans and ever since we invented the first modern space telescopes in the early 1900s, we’ve been constantly looking outwards into our own universe. Over the years, we have discovered countless celestial bodies that have helped us further our knowledge of our universe and the world we live in. Perhaps a poignant point of curiosity would be the Triton, the largest moon of the Neptune which out of all three moons, because it has some possibility for containing life.

Artist's view of Voyager 2 at Triton
Triton consists of several signs that could make it habitable for life, making in a prime candidate for further study. First of all, it is possible that there is or was at some point in the past a liquid subsurface ocean coming from tidal and radiogenic heating underneath the moon’s surface. Since water has many unique qualities - including being the universal solvent and having the ability to transfer between the three primary states of matter within a narrow temperature range - this could potentially be an indicator that life could have at some point developed there.

Additionally, the surface of Triton is also composed of geysers which shows that the moon is volcanically active at the present time. These geysers could be another indication of life there, since the chemicals and heat that arise through those volcanic eruptions could act as a catalyst for the formation of life. In fact, many scientists also speculate that life on Earth originated from these similar chemical reactions happening in hydrothermal vents deep underneath the ocean billions of years ago. Furthermore, we also speculate that there may be organic compounds brewing within these geysers on Triton and further study is needed to see if those compounds are present there.

Furthermore, Triton is the only large moon we know of that has a retrograde orbit, a strange and unique form of orbit that goes in the opposite direction of its planet's rotation. This has sparked curiosity among many and until we are able to further study this moon, this strange occurrence and its effects will only remain a mystery to us. Alongside our potential to learn more about its strange orbit, Triton also shares many similarities with our dwarf planet Pluto, being only slightly larger in size and consisting of similar diameter, mass and density. Since both bodies also have matching surface materials being made up of nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide, further investigation into Triton would offer us more profound insights on the nature of Pluto and other dwarf planets.

Although Triton is not among the most likely places in the solar system to contain life because of its extremely low temperature, the presence of liquid subsurface oceans and geysers there still means that it is possible. In addition to the possibility of learning more about its orbit and its similarities with Pluto, Triton is a prime candidate for further study."

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