National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has thought about getting closer to studying Triton, Neptune’s largest satellite. To do this, an automatic station could be sent to the celestial body.
Proposals to study the Triton are called the Trident. The research program is being considered as part of a project aimed at exploring the planets of the solar system with automatic stations.
In the event that the Trident research program is approved, the station to Neptune may be sent in 2025-2026. It would have to survey the satellite’s surface, with almost no craters visible. Scientists believe this could indicate that the ice layer on the surface is relatively recent.
Triton, named after the god of the sea from Greek mythology, has a diameter of about 2.7 thousand kilometers. It is the seventh-largest satellite in the solar system and the largest of Neptune’s 14 known satellites to science. It was discovered by the British astronomer William Lassel in 1846.
Triton is the only satellite in the solar system that rotates around the planet in the opposite direction to its rotation. It is also interesting because its atmosphere is almost entirely made up of nitrogen with a negligible amount of methane.
Space researchers believe that Triton could have formed in the Kuiper Belt, a huge cluster of small celestial bodies at the edge of the solar system.
Voyager 2 was the first and only apparatus to approach Neptune and its satellites at this time. It was launched into space on August 20, 1977, and already in 1989, it took a series of images. However, only about 40% of the surface of the celestial body was captured.
Voyagers’ initial task was to investigate Jupiter and Saturn. Both have already left the solar system, Voyager 1 did so in the summer of 2012, and Voyager 2 in the fall of 2019.