Back in the summer of 1989, NASA’s Voyager 2 became the first, and remains the only ever spacecraft to have visited the planet Neptune. During the brief flyby, the probe sent back images of Triton, a giant moon, larger in size than the dwarf planet Pluto, which orbits Neptune.
Now those images are being stitched together to create a map and video with unprecedented detail, revealing the best look at Neptune’s moon to date. This is all thanks to Paul Schenk at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, a scientist who has been working on the restoration project. “In the intervening quarter century and its many discoveries, I think we have tended to forget how strange and exotic Triton really is!” Schenk wrote in a blog post.
“The biggest challenge in restoring this map was the color of Triton,” Schenk wrote. “We had considerable difficulty because some of the color images were smeared or noisy, and there is some uncertainty in the absolute calibration of the color images. We also do not know exactly what the color of Triton was in those days. Earth-based observations gave very different answers. We did our best to give at least an impression of what the color of this very active body at the edge of the Solar System looks like.”
“Triton is of importance as it offers clues to what geologic features might look like on Pluto, given that the icy crusts of both bodies are probably rather similar and would presumably react in similar ways under internal stress and heat,” he added. “So if there were or are volcanoes on Pluto, they could look similar to those we see on Triton.”
Read more about the story at Space.