Seasons Discovered on Neptuneís Moon Triton
2010 04 08
The thin atmosphere of Neptuneís moon Triton varies in thickness with the seasons and in the throes of summer, despite its relatively large distance from the sun compared to other bodies in the solar system, new observations have found.
The European Southern Observatoryís Very Large Telescope, located in Chile, made infrared observations of Triton which show that summer is in full swing in the moonís southern hemisphere, and that the warmth of the summer sun causes Tritonís thin atmosphere to thicken.
"We have found real evidence that the sun still makes its presence felt on Triton, even from so far away," said Emmanuel Lellouch of the Observatoire de Paris in France and a member of the team that made the discovery.
The telescope also discovered the presence of carbon monoxide in Tritonís atmosphere and made the first ground-based detection of methane on the Neptunian moon.
Triton, Neptuneís largest natural moon, was the last solid object visited by the Voyager 2 spacecraft on its epic 10-year tour of the outer solar system. This view of Triton was made from topographic mapping of images obtained by Voyager. Credit: NASA/JPL/Universities Space Research Association/Lunar & Planetary Institute.
Of Neptuneís 13 moons, Triton is by far the largest, and, at about 1,700 miles (2,700 km) in diameter (or three quarters of the diameter of the Earthís moon), is the seventh largest moon in the whole solar system.
Since its discovery in 1846, Triton has fascinated astronomers because of its geologic activity, the many different types of surface ices, such as frozen nitrogen as well as water and dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide), and its unique retrograde motion (which means it rotates around its planet in the opposite direction of its planetís rotation).
On Triton, where the average surface temperature is about minus 391 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 235 Celsius), it is currently summer in the southern hemisphere and winter in the northern.
As Tritonís southern hemisphere warms up, a thin layer of frozen nitrogen, methane, and carbon monoxide on Tritonís surface sublimates into gas, thickening the icy atmosphere as the season progresses during Neptuneís 165-Earth-year orbit around the sun.
A season on Triton lasts a little over 40 years, and Triton passed the southern summer solstice in 2000.
Based on the amount of gas measured, Lellouch and his colleagues estimate that Tritonís atmospheric pressure may have risen by a factor of four compared to the measurements made by Voyager 2 in 1989, when it was still spring on the giant moon. The atmospheric pressure on Triton is now between 40 and 65 microbars ó 20,000 times less than on Earth.
Carbon monoxide was known to be present as ice on the surface, but Lellouch and his team discovered that Tritonís upper surface layer is enriched with carbon monoxide ice by about a factor of ten compared to the deeper layers, and that it is this upper "film" that feeds the atmosphere.
While the majority of Tritonís atmosphere is nitrogen (much like Earthís, which is 78 percent nitrogen), the methane in the atmosphere, first detected by Voyager 2, and only now confirmed in this study from Earth, plays an important role as well.
"Climate and atmospheric models of Triton have to be revisited now, now that we have found carbon monoxide and re-measured the methane," said team member Catherine de Bergh, also of the Observatoire de Paris.
The new observations of Tritonís atmosphere are detailed in the March 15 issue of the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Pluto, often considered a cousin of Triton and with similar conditions, is receiving renewed interest in the light of the carbon monoxide discovery, and astronomers are racing to find this chemical on the even more distant dwarf planet.
Article from: Space.com
Voyager 2 flyby Animation - Neptune and Triton (1989)
Video from: YouTube.com
Neptuneís moon Triton - Interesting Facts
Video from: YouTube.com
Real Sound of Neptune - New Voyager Recording ;)
Global Warming on Mars, Pluto, Triton and Jupiter
Does gravity change with the seasons?
Hubble shows Pluto "turning red" - Planet X?
Scientists discover Earth-like, water-rich planet: study
Earth-like planet discovered outside solar system
Suicidal planet seems on death spiral into star
Mars May Still Be A Living Planet, Methane In Atmosphere Reveals
NASA uses probes to hunt for ancient planet that may prove Earth moon origins
Obamaís Plan To "Geo-Engineer" The Planet Mirrors CFR Policy Documents
Odd Cloud on Neptune Seen Splitting Into Two
Latest News from our Front Page
New Report: Unregulated Contaminants Common in Drinking Water
2013 12 05
Traces of 18 unregulated chemicals were found in drinking water from more than one-third of U.S. water utilities in a nationwide sampling, according to new, unpublished research by federal scientists. Included are 11 perfluorinated chemicals, an herbicide, two solvents, caffeine, an antibacterial compound, a metal and an antidepressant.
Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency analyzed ...
Unarmed man charged with assault after cops shoot at him but wound bystanders instead
2013 12 05
A grand jury indicted an unarmed, emotionally disturbed man on assault charges after police opened fire on him near New York Cityís Times Square and wounded two bystanders.
Investigators said 35-year-old Glenn Broadnax, of Brooklyn, created a disturbance Sept. 14 by lurching into traffic and lunging toward oncoming cars.
Police arrived as a crowd gathered at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue and ...
The Kardashian 2013 Christmas Card: A Tribute to the Illuminati Entertainment Industry
2013 12 05
If there was an award for the less Christmas-y Christmas card in the History of the world, I believe that the 2013 Kardashian Christmas card would take the prize. Shot by elite fashion photographer David Lachapelle, the card is a rather grim and depressing summation of the entertainment world Ė an industry ruled by a shadowy elite that is turning ...
Oldest-ever human DNA found in 400,000-year-old ĎPit of Bonesí poses evolutionary mystery
2013 12 05
Scientists have reached farther back than ever into the ancestry of humans to recover and analyze DNA, using a bone found in Spain thatís estimated to be 400,000 years old. So far, the achievement has provided more questions than answers about our ancient forerunners.
The feat surpasses the previous age record of about 100,000 years for genetic material recovered from members ...
Canada Seeks to Claim North Pole
2013 12 05
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has instructed government bureaucrats to include the North Pole in the countryís Arctic claim to be submitted to the United Nations.
Canada has considered the inclusion of the geographic North Pole in order to extend its northern sea boundary for seabed riches in the Arctic, the daily Globe and Mail reported on Wednesday.
|More News Ľ |