Astronomy Picture of the Day
April 3, 2014

Deep Blue (Part II)
Deep Blue (Part II)

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

This Clear Filter Image of Neptune was acquired by the NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft on August 14, 1989, at a range of 14,8 Million KiloMeters (such as approx. 9,19 Million Miles) from the Gas-Giant Planet (---> from the Cloud-Tops). The picture here shows us very well a Dark Atmospherical Feature extending Westward (left - Sx) and Northward (up) toward the Equator from the Great Dark Spot (or "GDS", for short). This puzzling phenomenon developed over a relatively short period (three full rotations of Neptune - or about 54 Earth hours), and continued to evolve with time. After many years of studying, a number of Planetary Scientists that this peculiar "protrusion" could either represent an actual flow of Dark Cloud Material coming from the GDS, or a powerful Atmospheric Disturbance (whose origin, however, was and still is and remains unknown) associated with the Western Boundary of the GDS

Furthermore, (and in our opinion, as IPF), the possibility that the GDS was - somehow - "dividing" (---> splitting) itself, by creating a Secondary Great Dark Spot (which, in time, shall have merged again with the Primary GDS and become one single gigantic Atmospherical Feature, even today, cannot be fully excluded.

Bright, wispy "Cirrus-type" Clouds are seen overlying the GDS at its Southern Margin and over its North/Western Boundary (---> Edge or Margin, as well). This is the first evidence that the GDS lies lower in the Neptunian Atmosphere than the bright Clouds which have remained in its vicinity for several months. A lot of interesting Atmospherical Features related to the Planet's so-called "Global Banding", as well as to its South Polar Regions, are also well visible.

This frame (which is an Original NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 01922) 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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