A tiny, previously unknown moon circling Neptune has been spotted by astronomers using the Hubble telescope.
The moon, which is currently known as S/2004 N1, was found on July 1 by Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., NASA announced Monday.
It is less than 20 kilometres wide and its orbit is 105,000 kilometres from Neptune, between those of Larissa and Proteus, two of Neptune's other 14 known moons. It circles Neptune once every 23 hours.
The tiny moon is so small and dim that it was even missed by NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft when it flew by and observed Neptune, its moons and its rings in 1989.
Finding the new moon increases the likelihood that there are more objects around Pluto, and that’s a hazard for New Horizons. Worse would be a cloud of debris encasing the dwarf planet. But scientists behind the mission have contingency plans in place.
So there is a mission that will reach neptune in 2015:
New Horizons was launched in 2006 when three of Pluto’s moons were known:
motherboard.vice.com...edit on 15-7-2013 by Char-Lee because: (no reason given)
Originally posted by MarioOnTheFly
reply to post by boncho
It is less than 20 kilometres
in words of the immortal ATS-ers...it's a rock
Originally posted by yourmaker
I don't know why but it kind of makes me sad in a way that we are using Hubble to look at Neptune's pitiful 20kilometre rock moon.
I feel like we should strap a couple rockets on a Hubble-like tele and send it out as far as it can go to send us back some real views, not to mention give it all the abilities of the visual spectrum so we're seeing it all.
Originally posted by SeenAlot
Help me with my astronomy, please, anyone?
Weren't the rings on any planet thought to be destroyed satellites (moons)? Perhaps this is a remnant? Or the reforming of the remaining debris?
A body found floating in a ring would be interesting. But 20km seems kinda small to get excited about.