Triton Facts

Triton Facts
The largest moon of the planet Neptune is Triton. Just weeks after Neptune was found, British astronomer William Lassell discovered the moon on October 10, 1846. It is the only large moon in the Solar System to orbit in the opposite direction to its planet's rotation, this is known as a retrograde orbit. Lassell was a brewer by trade and in 1820, he began making mirrors for his amateur telescope. The moon was named thirty-four years later by French astronomer Camille Flammarion. Triton was named after the Greek sea god and son of Poseidon from his 1880 book Astronomie Populaire, however it was many decades later when the name caught on. Before that it was simply known as "the satellite of Neptune.
Interesting Triton Facts:
Triton is the seventh largest moon and the sixteenth largest object in the Solar System. It is larger than Pluto and Eris. It has a diameter of 2,706 kilometers.
The moon's distance from its parent planet is 220,405 miles (354,800 kilometers).
Triton rotates on its axis as it orbits the planet. It keeps the same face toward Neptune at all times. The orbital surface is 5.87 days.
Due to the moon's high albedo and very little sunlight absorbed by the surface, Triton's surface temperature is colder than any other measured object in the Solar System with an average temperature of minus 391 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 235 degrees Celsius).
Triton has an extremely thin atmosphere, with trace amounts of carbon monoxide and small amounts of methane close to its surface.
Unlike other planet atmospheres, Triton lacks a stratosphere and instead has a thermosphere.
Triton has an icy surface with geysers and craters. It is also an infamous rugged terrain known as a cantaloupe terrain due to its resemblance to the skin of a cantaloupe and likely covers much of Triton's western half. It contains depressions 30-40 kilometers in diameter which are probably not impact craters because they have smooth curves and all are a similar size. There are very few craters visible on the surface which indicates that Triton is very young and mostly likely highly active, with regions varying from an estimated 50 million years old to 6 million years old.
Mazomba is Triton's largest known impact crater that was observed by Voyager 2 and is about 27 kilometers in diameter. Larger craters were observed; however, they are generally thought to be volcanic in nature.
Triton has a southern polar cap that is covered with frozen nitrogen and methane. There may also be a north polar cap.
It is believed that Triton will wander too close to Neptune in around 3.5 billion years and the gravitational pull will break up Triton.
All known data is from 1989 when Voyager 2 flew by and mapped the planet. A very interesting discovery was made by the spacecraft when it photographed a plume of frozen material being ejected from the moon's surface several kilometers into the atmosphere. It is believed that the material is composed of liquid nitrogen or methane. The best observed examples were named Mahilani and Hili. An eruption of a Triton geyser may last up to a year.

Related Links:
Space Facts
Animals Facts
Poseidon Facts
Conch Facts
Athena Facts
1960s Timeline
Acceleration Due to Gravity Formula
Lighthouse of Alexandria Facts

Educational Videos