This is an image of Triton.
Click on image for full size
Life on Triton?
Triton is a little bit like Jupiter's moon Europa
, and a little bit like Saturn's moon Titan
. There is a very thin atmosphere which is a bit like Titan's. It is very cold, about -300 degrees. Like the Earth, there is Nitrogen and other complex molecules. Nitrogen is one of the waste products left behind
by life forms. Except for the cold, these signs would be favorable for some sort of life.
Like other icy moons, Triton is small, with direct exposure to space and the charged particle environment of Neptune's magnetosphere. These signs are less favorable for life.
The interior of Triton may have been warm enough at one time to contain a liquid layer just under the surface. On Earth, we know that there are some creatures which can survive in an environment of very cold water, such as under the ice of the north pole.
Overall, the environment sounds unfriendly to life as we know it on earth, because of the radiation and the cold. However, if the interior is warm enough, and if the conditions are just right, there may be living creatures on Triton under the icy surface.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!Traveling Nitrogen
is a fun group game appropriate for the classroom. Players follow nitrogen atoms through living and nonliving parts of the nitrogen cycle. For grades 5-9.
You might also be interested in:
The diagram shows possibilities for the interior structure of Europa. There is a core of rocky material buried inside, overlain with ice of various phases. The diagram shows that there may be an ocean...more
Most forms of life leave evidence behind that they are there. Plants use up carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Some bacteria are known to release nitrogen into the environment. People leave behind smog,...more
On Earth, we know that there are many types of living things that are able to live in difficult environments. The picture to the left shows an example of some of these creatures. These are tubeworms that...more
Jupiter's atmospheric environment is one of strong gravity, high pressure, strong winds, from 225 miles per hour to 1000 miles per hour, and cold temperatures of -270 degrees to +32 degrees (freezing temperature)....more
In July, 1996, it was announced that Dr. David McKay, along with a team of scientists at Johnson Space Center (a division of NASA), had discovered possible fossils of bacteria in an ancient rock from Mars....more
Saturn's atmospheric environment is one of strong gravity, high pressure, strong winds, from 225 miles per hour to 1000 miles per hour, and cold temperatures of -270 degrees to +80 degrees. With winds...more
Titan's atmosphere is a lot like the Earth's, except that it is very cold, from -330 degrees to -290 degrees! Like the Earth, there is a lot of Nitrogen and other complex molecules. There also may be an...more