The planet, rings and satellites

Ellis D. Miner and Randii R Wessen

Neptune It has now been more than a decade since the authors worked together as part of the science effort within the Voyager Project at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Each of us was involved in robotic exploration missions to the planets prior to the Voyager Project, and each has been involved in other missions and endeavors since our Voyager experience. We are, nevertheless, both in full agreement that no other experience is likely to come close to matching the excitement of anticipation and discovery that accompanied the Voyager Mission -- and that was especially true for the Neptune encounter of Voyager 2 in 1989.

This book follows the general format and content of Uranus: the Planet, Rings and Satellites, written as a part of the Wiley-Praxis Series in Astronomy and Astrophysics, and no attempt has been made to avoid repetition of materials and information contained in the 1998 edition of that book. On the contrary, each book has been written as a standalone project. It is also our belief that the inspiring story of the continuing discoveries associated with spacecraft and telescopic exploration of the Solar System in which we live cannot be told too often. We have been fortunate to be able to witness much of that discovery and we desire to share the excitement and wonder of those days, months, and years.

A professional text, entitled Neptune and Triton, was published in 1995 by The University of Arizona Press. It contains 23 chapters spanning more than 1,200 pages. Its editor, Dale Cruikshank, and most of its contributors, are our friends and colleagues from Voyager days. Much of the description of the findings and conclusions about Neptune and its system from the Voyager Mission that we include in this book are based on the results chronicled in Neptune and Triton. In contrast with that text, however, we attempt here to present a more coherent account in a language and style more accessible and understandable to the `non-expert'. We have attempted to include the most salient conclusions, without getting into esoteric details of interest primarily to those whose lives and careers are intimately tied to the scientific investigation of the giant planets of the outer Solar System.

With the advent of new tools with advanced capabilities, such as the Hubble Space Telescope and large Earth-based telescopes (such as the Keck telescope atop Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii) equipped with adaptive optics, observations from Earth are beginning to rival those of spacefaring robots like Voyagers 1 and 2. We attempt to include in this book relevant results from such investigations, especially as they alter or expand upon the Voyager results. It is likely, in a field where new discoveries are announced on an almost daily basis, that some of the material in this book will already have been superseded by new observational or theoretical studies. Such is the nature of science in general, and Solar System studies in particular, and the authors welcome constructive criticism on the depth, breadth, and accuracy of this book's contents.

Table of Contents
    List of figures
    List of tables
    Authors' preface
    List of acronyms

  1. The discovery of Neptune
  2. Neptune's position in the Solar System
  3. Speculation about Neptune's rings
  4. Other pre-Voyager Neptune observations
  5. The saga of Voyager 2
  6. The pre-Neptune scientific results of Voyager
  7. The Voyager 2 encounter with Neptune
  8. The interior of Neptune
  9. The atmosphere of Neptune
  10. The magnetosphere of Neptune
  11. The rings of Neptune
  12. The satellites of Neptune
  13. Post-Voyager observations of Neptune
  14. Comparative planetology of the four giant planets

    List of figures

Extent: 320 pages
Binding: paperback
Publication Date: November 2001
ISBN: 978-1-85233-216-7

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