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Triton also possesses a thin atmosphere composed mainly of nitrogen, and a smaller quantity of methane. This atmosphere probably is the result of Triton's cryovolcanism, which is enhanced by seasonal heating from the Sun. Although little is currently known of Pluto's atmosphere, it is thought to be primarily composed of nitrogen with some carbon monoxide and methane added to the mix--and it is extremely tenuous. Pluto's very thin atmosphere may exist as a gas only when Pluto is nearest to the Sun (perihelion). For most of Pluto's very long year, the atmospheric gases are frozen in the form of ice on its extremely frigid surface. One year on Triton is almost 248 Earth-years long--or 90,471 Earth-days!
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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.
In the tragicomedy that characterizes human relationships, it has been said that the closer we get to someone, the weirder that person gets. Earth's Moon is our planet's closest neighbor in Space--mysterious, bewitching, bothersome, and bewildering, it has successfully hidden many of its secrets from the prying eyes of curious observers. In July 2017, using satellite data, a team of astronomers announced that they have, for the first time, detected widespread water hidden within ancient explosive volcanic material on Earth's nearest and dearest companion world. This discovery indicates that the interior of Earth's Moon contains large quantities of indigenous water that has finally been revealed in numerous volcanic deposits distributed across the lunar surface--and these ancient deposits contain unusually high amounts of imprisoned water compared with surrounding terrains. The discovery of water in these ancient lunar deposits, which are believed to be composed of glass beads created in the explosive fiery eruption of magma shooting out from the deep interior of the Moon, strengthens the theory that the lunar mantle is surprisingly water-rich.
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Earth's lunar companion is thought to have been born about 4.51 billion years ago, according to a recent study. This means that our Moon was born soon after Earth's formation in the primeval Solar System. The average distance of Earth's Moon from our planet is about 238,900 miles--or approximately 1.28 light-seconds--and it is in synchronous rotation with Earth, always showing the same face, with the near side famous for its beautiful bewitching dark volcanic maria (Latin for seas) that are situated between prominent impact craters and the bright, very ancient, crustal highlands. Our Moon's surface is actually quite dark, even though it appears in the sky at night to be very bright, with a reflectance only a bit higher than that of old asphalt. The prominent position of our Moon in our planet's night sky, as well as its regular cycle of phases, have made our nearest and dearest celestial companion a valuable cultural influence since ancient times in art, mythology, language, and on calendars.
"The growing evidence for water inside the Moon suggest that water did somehow survive, or that it was brought in shortly after the impact by asteroids or comets before the Moon had completely solidified," explained Dr. Li in the July 24, 2017 Brown University Press Release. "The exact origin of water in the lunar interior is still a big question," he added.
Mysterious and enticing--a true Wonderland world--Mars has sung its scientific siren's song for years to those who seek to understand its many long-held secrets. This small, rocky world with an intriguing red hue, gets its rusty color from the large amount of iron oxide that coats its surface. Much of this small world's charm comes from its reputation of being the happy abode of "little green men"--Earth's neighboring planet that plays host to life as we know it. However, Mars has many captivating features and bewitching mysteries, in addition to the somewhat dated idea that it is the most likely world in our Solar System--other than our Earth--to host living creatures. The duo of small potato-shaped Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, are frequently considered to be captured asteroids that the Red Planet's gravity snared when they were making an ancient and unfortunate journey through interplanetary space from their place of birth in the Main Asteroid Belt, located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The duo of rocky objects now circle their adopted parent-planet--at least, for the time being. However, in July 2016, a team of astronomers proposed an alternative viewpoint, suggesting that the two little moons were born from an ancient impact on the Martian surface by a crashing primordial object--along with many other now long-lost little moons.