Triton is known for being the largest moon orbiting the planet Neptune. It is the largest Neptunian moon and the seventh largest moon overall, making it larger than Uranus’s biggest moon, Titania. Triton has some unique feature which make it a little different to the other moons. Let’s look at some of the facts about Triton.
Triton Moon Facts
- Triton has a radius of 841 miles (1354km), making it Neptune’s largest moon.
- Triton is not much smaller than the moon that orbits the Earth. It’s around half the size of the solar systems biggest moon, Ganymede.
- The average temperature on the surface of Triton is -235°c.
- Like the other larger moons in our solar system, Triton has it’s own atmosphere (albeit very thin). It is primarily made up of Nitrogen.
- Triton has one of the youngest surfaces of any moon, with it’s surface potentially just 5 of 6 million years old (instead of billions of years!).
- There are not many craters on Triton due this. However, the largest crater is quite sizeable, with a 27 kilometer diameter. It’s name is Mazomba, taking it’s name from Tanzanian mythology.
- On it’s surface, Triton also has cryovolcanoes, which is essentially a volcano that spews out water or ammonia instead of lava. The largest of these has a 100km diameter.
- Part of Triton’s surface is described as having “cantaloupe terrain”, as it resembles a cantaloupe.
- To date, only one spacecraft has actually flown past Triton. This was the Voyager 2, the well known NASA spacecraft that’s currently in interstellar space.
- Unlike most moons, Triton actually orbits Neptune in the opposite direction to the way it rotates. This leads astronomers to believe that it may have been a random object, caught in Neptune’s gravity.
- Triton has an irregular shaped orbit which means it’s getting closer and closer to Neptune. In a few million years, it will collide with the planet and be destroyed, either creating new Neptune rings or becoming part of the planet.
- Triton has an approximate distance of 220,500 miles (354,800 km) from Neptune.
- There is a mission that has been proposed to go to Triton – we’re still waiting for see if it’s approved or not!
Most Common Questions about Triton
What makes Triton different as a moon?
There are many things about Triton that make it an interesting moon to research. The main thing that separates it from all the other moons is that it rotates in the opposite direction to Neptune; other moons rotates the same way that the planet they’re orbiting does. We call this a retrograde orbit, and Triton is the only large moon that does this.
Could we live on Triton?
Well, we still don’t know that much about this moon as there’s only been one spacecraft that has been within it’s vicinity. Triton has a lot of geysers on it’s surface, and this potentially could be dangerous for humans, as we aren’t sure how volatile they are at the moment. The low atmosphere would be good, as it won’t allow strong winds to blow us away (like the Earth’s moon). The coldness of Triton would likely prove a problem, though.
How cold is Triton?
the average temperature on Triton is -235°c, which is absolutely freezing. It is the coldest object that we know of in our solar system – it is likely there are colder objects, but we haven’t discovered them yet!
Is there oxygen on Triton?
There’s no research that suggests that there is oxygen in the atmosphere on Triton. We do know that it is largely made up of Nitrogen however, and with this much nitrogen in the air, this would be extremely bad for humans to breathe. So even if there was oxygen, the nitrogen sort of cancels it out!
Is Triton bigger than Earth?
No, Triton is not bigger than out planet Earth. There is no moon that is bigger than our planet. Triton is around 20% smaller than the Earth’s moon, and just over 20% the size of our Earth.
Overall, Triton is one of the most interesting moons due to it’s retrograde orbit and young surface. The largest moon orbiting the planet Neptune is definitely interesting, and hopefully a mission is approved with NASA so we can find out more about it.