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How is the atmosphere composition of astronomical objects, for example triton, the moon of neptune, determined?

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This would have been just as good--or perhaps a bit better--on on Astronomy.SE (no pressure, I won't migrate it to a beta site without your say-so). I'll migrate if you want, or it can stay here (but please don't cross-post). – dmckee Oct 8 '11 at 1:27
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They check for absorption lines when conditions are appropriate. Have a look at this ozone layer in Venus' atmosphere detected by ESA.

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