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Top ten interesting moons in our solar system

Saturday, 23 December 2017

When studying our solar system, the eight planets get the most attention, but the moons are less put in the spotlight. That is unjust, because life might exist on some moons. The great planets Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus count the most moons. These are not all equally interesting, but some of them are fascinating enough to end up in the list below.

10. Iapetus, a moon with two faces

One of the 60 moons around Saturn is Iapetus. This moon has two faces: one half of the surface is black as coal, while the other half is white. It turns out that Iapetus does not revolve around his own axis, and thus always directs the same hemisphere to Saturn (just like our own moon). During his orbit around Saturn, one hemisphere of Iapetus picks up grit and debris from another Saturn's moon, Phoebe. This makes the surface of one hemisphere look much darker than the other hemisphere. The temperature on the black surface is also much higher, so that no ice can form. This hemisphere of Iapetus therefore remains dark forever. In the other hemisphere, ice is formed by the lower temperature, so that this surface looks bright white. A second peculiarity of Iapetus is a rock plateau on the equator 13 kilometers high and 20 kilometers wide. There is no explanation so far.

9. Titan, a moon that may contain life

The largest moon of Saturn is Titan. This moon is larger than the planet Mercury and has a dense atmosphere, mainly consisting of nitrogen and methane. Titan gives a good idea of ​​how the earth may have looked in its early childhood. Space probes have shown seas, lakes and rivers on Titan, but ... these contain liquid methane, not water! As there is water falling from the sky on earth, it rains liquid methane on Titan. All components are present, however, to make life possible on Titan.

8. Miranda, a peculiar moon of Uranus

Uranus has no less than 27 moons, of which Miranda is closest to Uranus. If you walked around Miranda, most of the sky would be taken by Uranus. That walking around would not be that easy, because Miranda is being seperated by huge canyons, some of which are 20 kilometers deep. This immediately explains why photographs of Miranda's surface show numerous 'scars'. On Miranda there would be a lot of volcanic activity going on, in which no lava, but ice is pushed to the surface.

7. Enceladus, a moon with geysers

Another moon of Saturn in our list: Enceladus. In the South Pole area of ​​Enceladus, space probes have detected geysers, which inject ice particles up to 500 kilometers into space. Part of it falls back on the surface as snow. These geysers would be fed by an ocean of liquid water under the surface in which extraterrestrial life could develop. The ice that the geysers inject into space has contributed to the formation of one of the rings around Saturn, namely the E-ring.

6. Umbriel in Oberon

Two moons this time, both belonging to Uranus. We discuss both moons simultaneously because of their peculiar geological features. Umbriel is known for the large crater Wunda at its north pole. In this crater there is a ring of clear material, the origin of which is not immediately clear. Oberon is a moon with numerous impact craters. A black substance is visible on the bottom of many craters, which also gives scientists a mystery.

5. Io: the moon with the most volcanic activity

Io is the moon closest to Jupiter. The influence of the enormous gravity of Jupiter on Io explains volcanism on this moon. The volcanoes of Io do not spew lava, but sulfur or sulfur dioxide. These sulfur plumes rise up to 300 kilometers above the surface. The tidal effect of Jupiter on Io would also cause waves of about 100 meters. Note: these are not water waves (there is no water on Io), but waves in the surface of this moon!

4. Triton, an icy moon of Neptune

Triton is a large moon of Neptune, which also turns in the other direction around Neptune than the other Neptune's. It is possible that Triton was originally not a moon of Neptune, but the moon was 'caught' by the gravity of this planet. It is very cold on Triton: nitrogen is present in the solid state (ie frozen liquid nitrogen!). There is also volcanic activity on Triton: the volcanoes do not spew lava, but liquid nitrogen.

3. Our own moon

Indeed, even the faithful companion of the earth is not missing in this list. What makes our own moon so interesting? Recent discoveries have shown that the moon contains water: in glass beads collected by the Apollomissies, it appears that 0.05% water is present. It has also been proven that volcanic activity has once been on the moon. Moreover, the moon appears for the most part to consist of the same material as the earth, which indicates a common origin.

2. Ganymede, the largest moon

The largest moon, Jupiter, also belongs to the largest moon in our solar system: Ganymede. This moon is interesting because it has a magnetosphere like the earth and there is liquid water under the surface. In addition, there is tectonic activity and oxygen is present in the thin atmosphere of Ganymede. Sufficient ingredients to allow microorganisms to survive ...

1. Europe: the best candidate for extraterrestrial life

Europe is a moon of Jupiter, with a thin atmosphere consisting of oxygen. Under the ice surface there is an ocean of liquid water, which is kept at a reasonable temperature by geological activity in the soil. Moreover, there is tidal action by the influence of Jupiter. These are the right conditions for creating life. However, more research with space probes is needed to demonstrate the existence of life in the ocean of Europe.

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