Mankind’s exploration of space has revealed lots of interesting discoveries over the years about the composition of our solar system and how it evolved into its current, relatively stable, state. For all this examination of the planets and asteroids, you can boil most planetary exploration these days down to one thing: the search for possible life-bearing environments, either in the present or earlier in our solar system’s history. Now we can add one more location of interest to that search, as a group of researchers think there may be a subsurface ocean on Neptune’s largest moon, Triton.
Neptune and its moons are probably one of the last places you’d think of when it comes to extraterrestrial life. The planet orbits roughly 30 AU from the sun; that’s 30 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun. At this distance, Neptune’s largest moon, Triton, has an average surface temperature of −235 °C, so there’s zero chance of little green men living on its surface, no matter how comfy their sweaters may be. But all hope is not lost for the frozen moon. According to Universe Today, a research team at the University of Maryland believes that, through a process known as tidal heating, Triton could be hiding an ocean underneath its frigid surface. Saswata Hier-Majumder, of the university’s Dept. of Geology, is cautiously optimistic about the study’s claims.