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Interesting facts about space.

The mass distribution of the moons of Neptune is lopsided. In fact, it is the most lopsided satellite system of any of the giant planets dwelling in our Solar System. Triton accounts for nearly all the mass of the system, with all of the other moons together accounting for only one-third of 1%. This is very similar to the system of moons that circle the ringed-planet Saturn, where the large, smoggy, orange moon Titan--the second-largest moon in our Sun's family (after Ganymede of Jupiter)--accounts for over 95% of the total mass of Saturn's system of moons.



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Triton also possesses a thin atmosphere composed mainly of nitrogen, and a smaller quantity of methane. This atmosphere probably is the result of Triton's cryovolcanism, which is enhanced by seasonal heating from the Sun. Although little is currently known of Pluto's atmosphere, it is thought to be primarily composed of nitrogen with some carbon monoxide and methane added to the mix--and it is extremely tenuous. Pluto's very thin atmosphere may exist as a gas only when Pluto is nearest to the Sun (perihelion). For most of Pluto's very long year, the atmospheric gases are frozen in the form of ice on its extremely frigid surface. One year on Triton is almost 248 Earth-years long--or 90,471 Earth-days!



and finally

For this reason, for many years astronomers considered the possibility that hydrocarbon lakes and seas might exist on this fantastic moon-world. Data that finally arrived courtesy of the joint NASA and European Space Agency's (ESA's) Cassini-Huygens mission lived up to their expectations. Since arriving at the Saturn system in 2004, the Cassini spacecraft has revealed more than 620,000 square miles of Titan's long-hidden, bewildering surface--and it has shown that almost two percent of Titan's entire surface is covered in liquid.

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Although Europa was visited by the two spacecraft Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 in the early 1970s, and the twin Voyagers in 1979, these early flybys only produced grainy, dim images. However, these early pictures revealed enough about the little moon to make it intriguing. Pale yellow icy plains were seen in the Voyager images. The plains also tantalizingly displayed red and brown mottled areas. Long cracks were observed, running for thousands of miles over the shattered eggshell-like crust. On Earth, similar cracks would suggest such features as high mountains and deep canyons. But nothing higher than a few kilometers was seen on the moon. In fact, Europa is one of the smoothest bodies in our Solar System.



Earth's Moon was thought to be The Moon--and the only moon--until Galileo Galilei took his primitive telescope up to the roof of his house in Padua in January 1610. Galileo aimed his telescope up to the clear starlit night sky above his home--one of the first to be used for astronomical purposes--and aimed it at the giant planet Jupiter. As a result, Galileo discovered the four large Jovian Galilean Moons, eventually named in his honor: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.



Until 2004, no spacecraft had visited Saturn in over two decades. Pioneer 11 had snapped the very first close-up images of Saturn when it flew past in 1979, Voyager 1 had its rendezvous about a year later, and in August 1981 Voyager 2 had its brief but highly productive encounter. At last, on July 1, 2004, NASA's Cassini spacecraft went into orbit around Saturn, and started taking breathtaking photographs.