Astronomy Picture of the Day
April 2, 2014

Deep Blue (Part I)
Deep Blue (Part I)

Credits: NASA/JPL - Voyager 2 Project - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF

This picture of the farthest (as far as our Solar System is concerned) Gas-Giant Planet Neptune, shows us three of the Atmospherical Features that the NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft photographed during its historical Fly-By. Near the Equator of Neptune, slightly to the West (Sx), we can see the Great Dark Spot, accompanied by bright, white Clouds that (even today) undergo rapid changes in their appearance, as the Hibble Space Telescope proved quite a few times. Just out of curiosity, a few Planetary Scientists, including us, as IPF, believe that the Great Dark Spot is, in fact, the final result of a combination (---> a "mix-up") of two different large Dark Spots (which. periodically, merge into each other, and then split again). Unfortunately, this Theory, that - however - seems reasonable, even by looking at the pictures that we possess (including this one), cannot be fully proven at present time.

On the other hand, towards the Southern Latitudes of the Great Dark Spot, there is the White and Bright Atmospherical Feature (that looks like some sort of a "triangle") that the Voyager Scientists nicknamed as the "Scooter". Still farther South, we can find another very interesting Atmospherical Feature known as the "Dark Spot 2", which has a bright core, and dark surroundings (as a matter of fact, it looks like an "eye"). Each Atmospherical Feature moves Eastward and all of them move at different velocities, so it is only occasionally (---> every now and then) that they appear (relatively) close to one other (such as, for instance, at the time when this picture was taken). The Voyager 2 Mission was conducted by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (or "JPL", for short) for NASA's Office of Space Science and Applications.

This frame (which is an Original NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 02219) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, magnified to aid visibility of the details and then colorized in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft and then looked outside, towards the Gas-Giant Planet Neptune), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team. Different colors, as well as different shades of the same color, mean, among others, the existence of different Elements present in the Atmosphere of Neptune, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

Note: it is possible (but we, as IPF, have no way to be one-hundred-percent sure of such a circumstance), that the actual luminosity of Neptune - as it is in this frame - would appear, to an average human eye, way lower than it has been shown (or, better yet: interpreted) here.

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