New Delhi: NASA is expected to launch a tiny spacecraft towards the moon of Neptune, according to researchers at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas. NASA researchers believe that Triton, the Neptune’s moon is likely to be able to sustain life if there are liquid oceans beneath its icy surface. They added that the water would stay in a liquid state due to the presence of ammonia.
In 1989, NASA’s Voyager 2 captured a glimpse of Neptune’s moon. This made scientists believe that the moon might hold water deep beneath its surface in liquid form. NASA tweeted on Monday, “A storm tracking team at NASA Goddard analyzes telescope data to observe the formation and paths of weather systems on the icy planet. What’s next? Studying the storms’ vortex and wind speed.”
‘The time is now to do this mission,’ said Louise Prockter, director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston and the principal investigator of the proposed mission in a New York Times report. ‘The time is now to do it at a low cost,’ said Prockter adding, ‘And we will investigate whether it is a habitable world, which is of huge importance.’
Meanwhile, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope had discovered a diminutive moon in 2013. Astronomers call it “the moon that shouldn’t be there.” The tiny moon, named Hippocamp, is unusually close to a much larger Neptunian moon called Proteus. Normally, a moon like Proteus should have gravitationally swept aside or swallowed the smaller moon while clearing out its orbital path, researchers said.
(With agency inputs)