What is triton?

Triton is the largest of Neptune’s moons. Discovered in 1846 by British astronomer William Lassell — just weeks after Neptune itself was found — the moon showed some strange characteristics as astronomers learned more about it.

Like our own moon, Triton is locked in synchronous rotation with Neptune?one side faces the planet at all times. But because of its unusual orbital inclination both Polar Regions take turns facing the Sun.

Triton has a diameter of 1,680 miles (2,700 kilometers). Spacecraft images show the moon has a sparsely cratered surface with smooth volcanic plains, mounds and round pits formed by icy lava flows. Triton consists of a crust of frozen nitrogen over an icy mantle believed to cover a core of rock and metal. Triton has a density about twice that of water. This is a higher density than that measured for almost any other satellite of an outer planet. Europa and Io have higher densities. This implies that Triton contains more rock in its interior than the icy satellites of Saturn and Uranus.

Triton’s thin atmosphere is composed mainly of nitrogen with small amounts of methane. This atmosphere most likely originates from Triton’s volcanic activity, which is driven by seasonal heating by the Sun. Triton, Io and Venus are the only bodies in the solar system besides Earth that are known to be volcanically active at the present time.

Triton is named after the son of Poseidon (the Greek god comparable to the Roman Neptune). Until the discovery of the second moon Nereid in 1949, Triton was commonly known as simply “the satellite of Neptune.”


Picture Credit : Google