NASA Proposes Mission to Neptune’s Moon Triton: ‘It May Harbor Alien Life’

NASA wants to send a Mission to Neptune's moon Triton, and scientists say it may harbor life.

Triton, Neptune’s largest moon was discovered in 1846 and since then, we’ve learned a plethora of things about it.

The most important detail is perhaps the fact that scientists believe the moon could be an ocean world, covered with liquid water which in turn may harbor alien life.

That’s why studying Triton further is of great importance.

Now, we are one step closer to actually visiting Triton and studying the alien moon for traces of life.

Global Color Mosaic of Triton, taken by Voyager 2 in 1989. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Global Color Mosaic of Triton, taken by Voyager 2 in 1989. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has recently proposed at a conference in Texas sending a spacecraft called “Trident” to Triton. The spacecraft’s mission would be to find out whether or not the alien moon can harbor life as we know it.

And the cost of the mission will not number the billions.

As noted by the New York Times, the proposed mission to Triton will be roughly the “price of a small mission to the moon.”

“The time is now to do it at a low cost,” explained Louise Prockter at Tuesday’s Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas, director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston and the principal investigator of the proposed ‘Triton’ mission.

“And we will investigate whether it is a habitable world, which is of huge importance.”

Triton (lower left) compared to the Moon (upper left) and Earth (right), to scale. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Triton (lower left) compared to the Moon (upper left) and Earth (right), to scale. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Not only will the Trident Mission visit Triton, but it would also swing by Jupiter’s Moon Io, as well as travel to Venus, Earth’s neighboring planet and the second world from the sun.

More than 20 years have passed since the last time NASA visited Venus.

Furthermore, the last time we had a good view of the blue gas giant was during the 1989 flyby of NASA’s Voyager 2 – which also marked the first time any spacecraft had ever done so.

Interpretative geomorphological map of Triton. Image Credit: Wikimedia Common.s
Interpretative geomorphological map of Triton. Image Credit: Wikimedia Common.s

“We are comparing with the Voyager encounter in 1989, which was built on early 1970s technology, essentially a television camera attached to a fax machine,” said Karl Mitchell, the proposed mission’s project scientist, as quoted by the Times.

But scientists not only want to get to Triton because it may harbor life, scientists believe that Triton was a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) a long time ago. It is thought that the alien moon was eventually captured by the gravity of Neptune and pulled into orbit eventually becoming the Gas Giant’s moon.

Unlike terrestrial planets whose composition is rocky, gas giants have a mostly gaseous composition, such as hydrogen and helium. They do have some rocky material, although this is most often found in the planet core. The four gas giants are (in order of distance from the Sun): Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

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