Global color mosaic of Triton, who, in 1989 by Voyager 2 during the flyby of the Neptune system. (Credit: NASA/JPL/USGS)
NASA is planning a mission to the coldest known object in our solar system in his hunt for extraterrestrial life.
The legendary space agency wants to send a high-tech probe on the Neptune’s icy moon Triton, which some believe that the possession of an ocean hidden beneath the surface.
Water is one of the most important ingredients for life, which means that if Triton has an ocean could harbor small alien microbes.
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Scientists from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to forward plans for exploring the moon at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas.
The mission would be accompanied by the development of a new type of spaceship known as Trident.
It would fly to Triton and take pictures of the icy object, while also the study of the atmosphere and the chemical make-up for the signs of an underground ocean.
If water is found, then NASA would mark Triton, the largest of Neptune’s 13 moons – as an important objective for the future alien hunting missions.
Trident would also give scientists a chance to visit Neptune and its moons for the first time since the 1980’s, as well as exploring an object from the Kuiper belt.
The belt is a ring of ice lumps that is well, then Neptune, and scientists believe Triton is a Kuiper object that got knocked in Neptune’s appeal billion years ago.
“Triton gives tantalizing hints on to be active and have an ocean,” NASA scientist Dr. Amanda Hendrix told the New York Times.
“It’s a three-for-one goal, because you can visit the Neptune system, a visit to this interesting ocean world, and also a visit to a Kuiper belt object, without to go all the way.”
There is little known about Triton, and the only images we have of the moon were captured by the probe Voyager 2 in 1989.
During the flyby, space boffins spotted geysers on Triton that spewed nitrogen gas. Nasa intended for further research.
The moon is supposed to be similar to Pluto in many respects, and is the coldest known object in the solar system, with a surface temperature of the collapsed on a cold -235°C.
That makes it two and a half times colder than the coolest temperature ever measured on Earth – an icy -89.2°C recorded in a Soviet weather station in Antarctica in 1983.
The proposed mission to Triton hinges on the price tag.
The launch of Trident would cost less than $500 million £380 million – about the same as a small mission to the Moon.
That may make the difference as the team push for the funding of NASA’s competitive Discovery program.
NASA’s goal is to make the implementation of these missions once every two years, and Trident is up against three other possible assignments for the next free slot.
They are journey of the Earth, the moon, as well as Jupiter’s moon Io and a return to Venus.
According to Louise Prockter, chief investigator for Trident, now is the time for the launch of a Triton mission, because it is of vital importance to know whether the moon hosts to extraterrestrial life.
Dr. Hendrix added that objects, such as Triton could help us gain new insights into how the ocean worlds of shapes and water retention.
For example, Triton’s temperatures are far below freezing, but could contain ammonia that keeps the ocean in a liquid form.
Clues such as these could help us discover and other ocean worlds in the future as we examine whether we are alone in the universe.
This story originally appeared in The Sun.