Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Neptunes’s moon Triton and Love and Intrigue Under the Seven Moons of Kordea

Helena Puumala’s SF Romance series features a planet, Kordea, with seven moons.  This rather unusual setting gives me the opportunity to talk about some of the remarkable moons in our solar system, as I test different moons for the cover of book 2 of the series (link given below).  This blog is about Triton, the largest moon of Neptune, notable for its likely being a captured small planet, of the sort that is similar to Pluto (a trans-Neptunian object).

The Witches’ Stones Book 2: Love and Intrigue under the Seven Moons of Kordea.

Here are a few facts about Triton, courtesy of Wiki:

  • It's the only large moon with a retrograde orbit.  This means that it orbits the planet in the opposite direction of the planet’s spin.
  • This, as well as its compositional similarity to Pluto, is why it is considered likely to be a body from the Kuiper Belt (i.e. well beyond Neptune), that was captured by Neptune at some point in the solar system’s history.  If a moon was formed at the same time as the planet formed, it is natural that its orbit would be in the same direction as the planet’s rotation, due to angular momentum considerations.
  • It is about 1350 km in radius, which is larger than Pluto (1185 km).  It is also rather dense, with a rock and metal core making up about two thirds of its mass.  Water ice makes up much of the remainder.  It also has a tenuous nitrogen atmosphere.
  • It is geologically active with cryovulcanism (cold volcanoes) and other tectonic activity.
  • It is orbitally locked with Neptune, so that the same side always faces the planet, like our moon and most large moons.
  • Neptune doesn’t have many other moons – the capture of Triton is thought to have caused other moons to have their orbits disrupted and to have escaped from Neptune.
  • It has a high albedo (reflectivity), about 0.6 to 0.9.  Earth’s moon only has an albedo of about 0.12.
  • It is speculated that the rocky core might contain enough radioactive material to produce heat for a subsurface ocean.  As with the other outer solar system moons, that might mean life would be possible.
  • It’s pretty cold there, only about 40 degrees above absolute zero.
  • The surface is young, with relatively few craters and not much difference in surface elevation.  Both of those facts indicate the presence of volcanic and  tectonic activity (resurfacing).
  • Geysers eject nitrogen and dust from below the surface, up to 8 km high.
  • Triton features distinctive “cantaloupe terrain”, which is probably because of geologic activity in dirty ice.  It looks pretty much like it sounds.
  • Voyager 2 visited in 1989.  Most of our data is from that single visit.  It is doubtful whether we will visit again for many decades.

Here's a picture of Triton, taken by Voyager in 1989.


Now, here’s a moon-based pitch for Helena Pummala’s latest SF Romance series, The Witches’ Stones:

Helena Puumala's SF Romance series features the planet Kordea, home to a race of beautiful and powerful psychic aliens, known as the Witches of Kordea.  The planet has seven moons, an extraordinary arrangement for a terrestrial sized planet in its star's habitable zone, as is noted in Book 1, which you can get from the link below:    :).


In fact, the moons of Kordea become a central element in Book 2, now out as well.  The cover below actually borrows the moon Titan, one of the moons of Jupiter.  I will by testing out different moons for the cover of the Witches' Stones Book 2, so, as noted above, this gives me the opportunity to do a mini-tour of some of the major moons of our solar system.  Moons, including our own, are fascinating.  A terrestrial planet with seven moons would be cool (though it would probably be a very unstable arrangement).

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