Archive for the ‘ Paul Schenk ’ Category

Triton and Neptune: 20 years since Voyager, 6 years before New Horizons – with Dr. Paul Schenk

Editor’s Note: It is really a pleasure for me to watch the Beyond the Cradle family getting bigger…

Our most recent collaborator is, currently, a staff scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston Texas. Paul Schenk has been mapping the icy satellites of the outer planets since graduate school days at Washington University in Saint Louis and is currently assisting the New Horizons team plan Pluto encounter observations for July 2015.  Read his full profile back at the Collaborators Lounge, now…let us follow Dr. Schenk on a ride to Triton…

ppsThis August will mark 20 years since Voyager 2 ended its main mission with a hair-raising pass over the north pole of Neptune.  While Voyager continues to report on conditions far from the Sun, its 10 year tour of the Outer Planets ending at Neptune was a benchmark in human exploration.   The last solid object that Voyager encountered was Neptune’s exotic moon Triton.  Slightly smaller than Earth’s Moon, Triton could not be more different.  Coated in alien ices of frozen carbon monoxide, nitrogen, methane, and corbon dioxide, among others, Triton also has a geologic history just as alien and youthful as Europa and Enceladus.  I have generated new topographic data from these old images, and shown here as a simulated fly over of the surface, give us a fresh perspective on this bitterly cold moon, chilled to a lonely 35 degrees above absolute zero near the edge of the Solar System:

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