back to article NASA scientists mull sending a spacecraft on a 13-year mission to visit Neptune's 'bizarre' moon, Triton

NASA is considering sending a spacecraft to fly by Neptune's largest moon, Triton, in a bid to study its random spurts of ice and strange atmosphere filled with charged particles. The proposed mission named Trident, after the spear carried by Neptune, the Roman god of the sea, is currently undergoing review as a potential …

  1. Youngone

    Do it, please.

    But 2038 is no good, as I might not live to see that. Next Tuesday would suit me better.

    1. eldel

      Re: Do it, please.

      I resemble that remark. It's depressing how fast father time sneaks up on you.

      1. Methusalah
        Coat

        Re: Do it, please.

        It's an unwritten Universal Rule, I believe:

        That the approach speed of OFT (along with his partner in crime TGR) is directly proportional to the age of their target.

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: Do it, please.

          Directly?!

          Exponentially.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Do it, please.

      Hope the onboard computer will run a fixed version of any *nix....

    3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Do it, please.

      I was doing the same calculation. I'll be closer to eighty than seventy by that point, so it is cutting it close!

      It is a bit depressing to realise that I'm now at an age where I may not live to see the results of relatively short-duration plans made today...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do it, please.

      Fly past is scheduled for 03:14:07 on Tuesday, 19 January 2038

      What could go wrong?

      1. Bitsminer

        Re: Do it, please.

        Ahh, I hope the prospective PI, Ms Louise Prockter is, umm, less than (click click click of the calculator, click, click click, darn!, click, click click) ummm 45 years of age, lest she be subject to future forced retirement rules.

        We'd all hate to have her have to sit on the sidelines while the project of a lifetime is pulled from her thoughtful, skilled and insightful fingers.

  2. LenG

    Faster!

    I wish there was some way of speeding these things up. At 67, and a space nut since the launch of sputnik 1 (which I remember) I am now getting concerned that I won't be around to see the outcome of some of these missions.

    1. JDPower

      Re: Faster!

      Ah but you saw things some of the rest of us dream of having seen, like the moon landing, first shuttle launch etc

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Faster!

        But that why us geezers want things sped up. I remember the first satellite launches. I want to see some colonization, new things in space. I want them yesterday.

        BTW, get off my lawn, kid.

      2. AK565

        Re: Faster!

        Those of us of a certain age were promised nuclear powered flying cars, colonies on the moon with excursions to the dark side. We were also promised vacations on Mars where we could ski down mountains of unimaginable heights. Oh, and long before anyone even thought of "The Energy Crisis" we were promised limitless electricity from nuclear power. Our ships and airplanes would also be nuclear powered. Speaking of airplanes, supersonic airliners were supposed to be phasing out about now in favor of sub-orbital hypersonic planes that would cut NYC - London from three hours to ONE.

        THAT is why us folk approaching retirement age are so cranky all the time. We want the tech we were promised!

        1. My other car is also a Trabant.

          Re: Faster!

          Those of us who had to learn about thermodynamics, how nuclear power actually works, and the energies involved in getting things to,say, Mars, never believed any of that stuff would happen.

          What we got was exceedingly fast computers, fast networking, high resolution graphics and audio, and the realisation that getting from London to NY was pointless if you were going to spend 4 hours in traffic at either end.

          Sending something small but clever to Triton to have a look around will actually be an achievement unimaginable to anyone in 1969 given the level of technology in Apollo. How would you get a minimum 3 man crew there and back? 2001 and Rendezvous with Rama make the point - these days we'd be sending robot probes as a first step, so much cheaper and safer than sending people, but in those days even an A C Clarke was unable to imagine that HAL would be replaced with a relatively tiny box controlling an array of instruments, and no wetware to mismanage.

    2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: Faster!

      I cannot recall Sputnik, but the moon landings are etched into my memories as the coolest thing I have ever seen on TV (first space shuttle came close). I hope to be around when Trident reaches Triton, nonetheless. Where is a warp drive when you need one (that or boosterspice)

  3. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Go

    I was hoping we could get another probe to Neptune and Uranus.

    I'd really like to see us revisit these other big gas giants now that Cassini and Galileo are done.

    (And no jokes about probing Uranus, you reprobates!!)

  4. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

    Quibble:- Trident...Triton... Neptune

    Re the Trident name explanation:

    Triton was a son of Poseidon, whose (P's) symbol was the trident.

    Neptune was just a foreign Johnny-come-lately who nicked the whole IP right down to the logo. And, apparently, a planet.

    Bloody Romans.

    1. dajames Silver badge

      Re: Quibble:- Trident...Triton... Neptune

      Neptune was just a foreign Johnny-come-lately who nicked the whole IP right down to the logo. And, apparently, a planet.

      That's one way to view it ... the other is to consider that Poseidon undertook a rebranding exercise in order to exploit opportunities for new temples in the expanding Roman empire.

      Gods take the longer view, not being subject to the same mortality issues as we mortals.

    2. My other car is also a Trabant.

      Re: Quibble:- Trident...Triton... Neptune

      IIRC Poseidon was originally the god of horses,hence his sobriquet of the "Earth-shaker". When the peoples whose god he was became a maritime society, he became the god of the sea. ("Um, Poseidon...there's been a bit of a corporate reorganisation, we want you to take on a new role in marketing.")

      The Roman Empire just absorbed foreign gods, identifying them with their own if possible. They did exactly the same thing with Christianity, even pinching the Hebrew God, replacing Jupiter, and demoting all the other gods to angels or saints.

      Exactly what Disney does with books today.

    3. OssianScotland Silver badge
      Coat

      Bloody Romans.

      Yes, what have they ever done for us?

      (and having set the scene, I'll go quietly....)

    4. DemeterLast

      Re: Quibble:- Trident...Triton... Neptune

      If NASA uses Saturn for a gravity boost, and sends Trident past Titan on its way to Triton, every news scribbler in the world will shoot themselves in the face rather than try to keep all that straight.

    5. Bitsminer

      Re: Quibble:- Trident...Triton... Neptune

      Bloody Romans

      Bit late to the party, aren't you? Did the Visigoths say you could come, or what?

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Phones Sheridan

    "How could an ancient moon six times farther from the Sun than Jupiter still be active?,"

    The answer’s simple....

    That’s no moon!

    https://youtu.be/8Nho44lGVV8

  7. Roger Kynaston Bronze badge

    73 if it takes off on time

    At least I have some hope of being around for it's arrival.

    1. MCMLXV
      Happy

      Re: 73 if it takes off on time

      Hopefully by then you'll have mastered apostrophes :)

  8. KarMann Bronze badge
    Unhappy

    Just a flyby?

    Damn shame they apparently can't keep enough delta-v on board to bring it into orbit around Triton or Neptune when it gets there, assuming the repeated use of the word 'flyby' is accurate. Or send it on a slower, longer transfer orbit, which would need less delta-v to slow down there. But I guess there will have to be trade-offs, and this is what they've gone with.

    1. aje21

      Re: Just a flyby?

      I was thinking the same thing - 13 years to get there but only 13 days in orbit... a few months to study it would be really nice, but I guess there's no such thing as a free lunch and free afters too.

    2. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge

      Re: Just a flyby?

      I did wonder if they could drop a small probe off into orbit for the longer term.

  9. Toni the terrible

    Trident?

    I just hope they dont send the ICBM version by accident

  10. JCitizen Bronze badge
    Boffin

    Assumptions..

    What happened to all those assumptions made when it was first discovered? You know - the tidal functions of the planetary gravity well churning forces below the moon's surface? Maybe I should have got my coat instead?

  11. RLWatkins

    "Trident" means "three teeth"...

    ... and is a *description* of the thing carried by Neptune, which looks like a cross between a pitchfork and a spear.

    When it's torches-and-pitchforks time, a trident would be a pretty cool thing to have.

    Sadly, it's also the name of a brand of chewing gum.

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