Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Flotsam and Jetsam

In addition to Triton, Neptune has many smaller moons.  In the compilation below, the image on the upper left depicts the moon Larissa and the rest of the images depict Proteus, Neptune's second largest moon.  Proteus is one of the largest worlds in the solar system to not be fairly round, despite the fact that it is similar in size to Saturn's volcanically active moon Enceladus.

The image to the right depicts Nereid, Neptune's third largest moon, which orbits very far from Neptune and therefore was not seen close up.  On the right is tiny Despina, a moon that orbits close to Neptune and is only about 150 km across.  
Finally, here is Despina, transiting the disk of Neptune.  This is a montage showing Despina and its shadow at four positions, each taken nine minutes apart.  The last one shows Despina itself against the clouds of Neptune.

Finally, here is a version of the transit image with Despina artificially brightened to aid visibility.

Processed images Copyright Ted Stryk, Raw Data Courtesy NASA/JPL

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