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Interesting facts about space.

Moons can be found in a rich assortment of various sizes, shapes, and types. Although they are generally solid little worlds, a few of them are known to sport atmospheres. Indeed, the atmosphere of the second largest moon in our Solar System, Titan of Saturn, is so dense that it hides Titan's strange hydrocarbon-slashed surface beneath a thick orange veil.



and here is another

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.



and finally

"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.

Other facts:

An orbiting spacecraft sporting such an ice-piercing radar is necessary to confirm and map Europa's enormous lake. NASA is considering such a mission, proposed to launch sometime before 2022.



If this ancient catastrophic impact really did occur, there should be deposits of these tragic moons on the Martian surface. The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is currently planning a sample return mission to Phobos and Deimos, the Martian Moons Explorer, and NASA has plans to eventually return samples to Earth from the surface of Mars-- perhaps as soon as the 2020s. At the conclusion of their paper, the authors note, "Our scenario provides further motivation for a sample return mission to the Martian satellites."



According to the new theory, moon-formation starts at the very edge of a planetary ring, where a fragile baby moon can begin to emerge without the danger of being ripped apart by the fierce gravity of its parent planet. These dancing little moonlets, formed from ring-material, then travel outward. As the ring-system continually produces moonlet after moonlet after moonlet, the small icy worlds coalesce to form increasingly larger moons. The larger moons, in turn, may also merge together, as they dance outward from their parent planet.