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Weird Object: Neptune's Moon Triton

No. 16: The Backward Cantaloupe

RELATED TOPICS: WEIRDEST OBJECTS | NEPTUNE | TRITON
AttentionPassengers
"ATTENTION, PASSENGERS."  This computer-generated montage shows Neptune as it would appear from a spacecraft approaching Triton, the planet’s largest moon. 
NASA/JPL/USGS

A celestial body can be weird because of how it moves. Or how it looks. Or because it embodies mysteries no one can solve. Neptune’s moon Triton possesses all three qualities. 

Triton is the most distant of the solar system’s major moons — and the word “major” is important. Satellites in our solar system naturally arrange themselves into two distinct families. The major group includes those that are spherical, have a hefty mass, and follow a round orbit, suggesting an original and ancient connection with their respective planet. They are all at least 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) in diameter. There are only seven of these: our Moon, Jupiter’s four Galilean satellites, Saturn’s Titan, and Neptune’s Triton. Some might include an additional eight medium-sized round moons — the ones at least 600 miles (1,000 km) wide: Saturn’s Tethys, Dione, Rhea, and Iapetus, and Uranus’ Ariel, Umbriel, Titania, and Oberon. 

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