Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation

Abstract

Voyager 2 images of Neptune reveal a windy planet characterized by bright clouds of methane ice suspended in an exceptionally clear atmosphere above a lower deck of hydrogen sulfide or ammonia ices. Neptune's atmosphere is dominated by a large anticyclonic storm system that has been named the Great Dark Spot (GDS). About the same size as Earth in extent, the GDS bears both many similarities and some differences to the Great Red Spot of Jupiter. Neptune's zonal wind profile is remarkably similar to that of Uranus. Neptune has three major rings at radii of 42,000, 53,000, and 63,000 kilometers. The outer ring contains three higher density arc-like segments that were apparently responsible for most of the ground-based occultation events observed during the current decade. Like the rings of Uranus, the Neptune rings are composed of very dark material; unlike that of Uranus, the Neptune system is very dusty. Six new regular satellites were found, with dark surfaces and radii ranging from 200 to 25 kilometers. All lie inside the orbit of Triton and the inner four are located within the ring system. Triton is seen to be a differentiated body, with a radius of 1350 kilometers and a density of 2.1 grams per cubic centimeter; it exhibits clear evidence of early episodes of surface melting. A now rigid crust of what is probably water ice is overlain with a brilliant coating of nitrogen frost, slightly darkened and reddened with organic polymer material. Streaks of organic polymer suggest seasonal winds strong enough to move particles of micrometer size or larger, once they become airborne. At least two active plumes were seen, carrying dark material 8 kilometers above the surface before being transported downstream by high level winds. The plumes may be driven by solar heating and the subsequent violent vaporization of subsurface nitrogen.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 6 articles

  • How Well Do We Understand the Belt/Zone Circulation of Giant Planet Atmospheres?
    Fletcher LN, Kaspi Y, Guillot T, Showman AP. Fletcher LN, et al. Space Sci Rev. 2020;216(2):30. doi: 10.1007/s11214-019-0631-9. Epub 2020 Mar 12. Space Sci Rev. 2020. PMID: 32214508 Free PMC article. Review.
  • Ice Giant Circulation Patterns: Implications for Atmospheric Probes.
    Fletcher LN, de Pater I, Orton GS, Hofstadter MD, Irwin PGJ, Roman MT, Toledo D. Fletcher LN, et al. Space Sci Rev. 2020;216(2):21. doi: 10.1007/s11214-020-00646-1. Epub 2020 Feb 24. Space Sci Rev. 2020. PMID: 32165773 Free PMC article. Review.
  • The seventh inner moon of Neptune.
    Showalter MR, de Pater I, Lissauer JJ, French RS. Showalter MR, et al. Nature. 2019 Feb;566(7744):350-353. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-0909-9. Epub 2019 Feb 20. Nature. 2019. PMID: 30787452 Free PMC article.
  • NEPTUNE'S DYNAMIC ATMOSPHERE FROM KEPLER K2 OBSERVATIONS: IMPLICATIONS FOR BROWN DWARF LIGHT CURVE ANALYSES.
    Simon AA, Rowe JF, Gaulme P, Hammel HB, Casewell SL, Fortney JJ, Gizis JE, Lissauer JJ, Morales-Juberias R, Orton GS, Wong MH, Marley MS. Simon AA, et al. Astrophys J. 2016 Feb 1;817(2):162. doi: 10.3847/0004-637X/817/2/162. Epub 2016 Jan 28. Astrophys J. 2016. PMID: 28127087 Free PMC article.
  • The Astrobiology Primer v2.0.
    Domagal-Goldman SD, Wright KE, Adamala K, Arina de la Rubia L, Bond J, Dartnell LR, Goldman AD, Lynch K, Naud ME, Paulino-Lima IG, Singer K, Walther-Antonio M, Abrevaya XC, Anderson R, Arney G, Atri D, Azúa-Bustos A, Bowman JS, Brazelton WJ, Brennecka GA, Carns R, Chopra A, Colangelo-Lillis J, Crockett CJ, DeMarines J, Frank EA, Frantz C, de la Fuente E, Galante D, Glass J, Gleeson D, Glein CR, Goldblatt C, Horak R, Horodyskyj L, Kaçar B, Kereszturi A, Knowles E, Mayeur P, McGlynn S, Miguel Y, Montgomery M, Neish C, Noack L, Rugheimer S, Stüeken EE, Tamez-Hidalgo P, Imari Walker S, Wong T. Domagal-Goldman SD, et al. Astrobiology. 2016 Aug;16(8):561-653. doi: 10.1089/ast.2015.1460. Astrobiology. 2016. PMID: 27532777 Free PMC article. Review. No abstract available.
See all "Cited by" articles

LinkOut - more resources

Feedback