Astronomy Picture of the Day
July 5, 2014

Features of the South Polar Regions of Neptune
Features of the South Polar Regions of Neptune

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

Neptune's bright Crescent viewed in six frames (each obtained with a different Spectral Filter, such as, from top to bottom, UltraViolet, Violet, Blue, Clear - or Neutral -, Green and Orange) taken by the NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft on August, 31, 1989. These images were shuttered in temporal order and show us how the bright core of "D2", such as the extremely white and bright South Polar Atmospherical Feature (visible toward the upper Left - Sx - corner of each frame), and the Symmetric Atmospherical Structure immediately surrounding the South Pole of Neptune, changed their shape and relative brightness in a relatively short lap of time.

The (remarkable) High Contrast of the Atmospherical Features visible in these six images - as compared to the rest of the visible portion of the Gas-Giant Planet - indicates that they should extend (----> are located way) above most of the Light Scattering Haze and Absorbing Methane Gas which are both present, in large quantities, inside the deep and very dense Atmosphere of Neptune.

This image-composite (which is a sequence of six Original NASA - Voyager 2 Spacecraft's b/w frames published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 02204) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, magnified to aid visibility of the details and then colorized, according to an educated guess (or, if you wish, an informed speculation) carried out by Dr Paolo C. Fienga, 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 South Polar Regions of 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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