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50 Neptune’s Physical Features Thermal images taken in 2006 by the Very Large Telescope in Chile, show that Neptune’s south pole is a lot warmer than the rest of the planet. It may be that the difference in temperature between the warmer south pole and the rest of the planet is what causes Neptune’s powerful winds. The Hubble has shown images of white clouds continuing to race across the planet’s surface, which serves as proof of these strong winds. Studies of Neptune show that the cloudy surface of the planet’s southern hemisphere is brightening and absorbing more sunlight.

The Hubble Space Telescope continues to provide images of the planet, and spacecraft heading beyond our Solar System may also be able to observe Neptune. One example is the New Horizons spacecraft. 75 billion km) away. 54 Neptune’s Physical Features New space technology and new discoveries about Neptune may one day reveal more of Neptune’s secrets. Until new missions to Neptune occur, observations will have to be made through telescopes and calculations. Perhaps it will fall to some young astronomer, just as it did to John Couch Adams, to discover something new and amazing about the eight planet.

The blue-green color is from the methane in the planet’s atmosphere. 41 41 Neptune than can be explained by methane in the atmosphere. The planet has rings that are mysteriously disappearing. And it has an icy moon—Triton—that still manages, despite its coldness, to have geysers. THE HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE Astronomers had known for some time that any Earth-based telescope was going to have a problem with interference from the Earth’s atmosphere and with light pollution from cities. In 1969, the United States Congress set aside money for a telescope that would stay in orbit around the Earth.

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