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Curious facts about cosmic life and their inhabitants.

Triton was the second moon in our Solar System that was found to have a substantial atmosphere, which is primarily composed of nitrogen--with smaller quantities of carbon monoxide and methane. Discovered by William Lassell in 1846, only seventeen days after the discovery of Neptune, Triton is one of the most frigid worlds in our Solar System, with a surface temperature of only about 38 Kelvin. Triton's frozen surface is coated by nitrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, and water ices, and it has a high geometric albedo of more than 70%. Surface features include a large southern polar cap, ancient cratered planes that are cross-cut by scarps and graben, as well as much younger features thought to have been formed by endogenic processes like cryovolcanism (ice volcanoes).

and here is another

Voyager 2 flew by Neptune back in 1989, and its observations revealed a number of active geysers, situated within the polar cap heated by the Sun. The geysers hurl out plumes to the impressive height of up to 8 kilometers. Triton has a relatively high density that indicates rocks account for approximately two-thirds of its mass, and ices (mostly water ice) compose the remaining one-third.

and finally

One of the findings they found out is that the lunar phases are consistently rotating. They go round and round without ending and every cycle is similar as the previous cycle. As there were no tools or technological devices to remind them of time, prehistoric populace only had the moon to be their guidance in life, besides the mighty Sun. The phase of the moon would indicate the time or month of the year, although it was not implied exactly in the form of months like how we are symbolizing the periodic months. But of course, the use of the moon did differ from one culture to another, one religion to the other.

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Triton and Pluto share roughly the same bulk composition and density, as well as similar atmospheres. In addition, both remote bodies move in unusual orbits. Pluto has a highly eccentric orbit, and is sometimes closer to the Sun than Neptune! Furthermore, Pluto orbits in the opposite direction around our Sun than do the eight major planets of our Solar System. Triton revolves around Neptune in a direction counter to that of its planet--and its retrograde orbit indicates that it is a captured object. Because of the unusual nature of both Triton's and Pluto's orbits, as well as the similarities of their bulk properties and atmospheres, it has long been thought that there is some sort of historical connection between them. Indeed, it was once thought that Pluto was an escaped moon of Neptune, but this is now considered unlikely. It is much more likely that long ago Triton, like Pluto, circled the Sun independently, but was unluckily captured by its adoptive planet--whereas Pluto was left to wander freely.

"We've found a likely solution to the long-standing problem of how Triton arrived in its peculiar orbit. In addition, this mechanism introduces a new pathway for the capture of satellites by planets that may be relevant to other objects in the Solar System," explained Dr. Craig Agnor, a researcher from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the May 10, 2006 issue of Time Magazine.

The prevailing theory of lunar formation--the Giant Impact hypothesis--proposes that our Moon was born as the result of a disastrous collision between our still-forming proto-Earth and a doomed Mars-sized body named Theia--and this impact is thought to have created a partially vaporized, extremely hot disk of material that swirled around our infant planet. Eventually, this primordial disk cooled off, and ultimately accreted to form our Moon. In February 2018, a team of astronomers announced that their ongoing research is revealing that Earth's Moon may be wetter than initially thought, which raises important questions about some aspects of this origin story.