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NEPTUNE

Neptune is 30 times farther from the Sun than Earth, and has the most powerful hurricanes of any planet in the Solar System. It is a gas giant with faint rings. TRITON is the largest of its 11 known moons.

Table 11. NEPTUNE DATA

Diameter (width) at equator30,779 miles (49,532 km)
Average distance from Sun2.795 billion miles (4.498 billion km)
Time to orbit Sun164.8 years
Time to spin around own axis16.11 hours
Mass17.2 x Earth’s mass
Gravity1.13 x Earth’s gravity
Cloudtop temperature–328°F (–200°C)
Number of moons11

WHAT IS NEPTUNE MADE OF?

Neptune’s atmosphere is made of hydrogen, helium, and methane, flecked with wisps of white clouds. The methane gas makes the planet appear deep blue. Underneath, there is a vast liquid mantle, and a small core of silicate rock at the center.

TRITON

Bigger than the planet Pluto, Triton is Neptune’s largest moon. It has the coldest surface in the Solar System, –391°F (–235°C).

WHAT IS TRITON’S SURFACE LIKE?

Triton’s beautiful frozen surface is covered with icy craters and pinkish snow. In some regions, jets of nitrogen gas erupt like geysers and carry fine dust in the wind. This dust then falls and settles on the ground in dark streaks.

TRITON'S ORBIT

Triton is the only large moon in the Solar System that orbits its planet in the opposite direction from the way the planet spins. Some astronomers believe it was once a separate body that was captured by Neptune’s gravity.

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley

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