July 2, 2011
By tracking atmospheric features on Neptune, a UA planetary scientist has accurately determined the planet’s rotation, a feat that had not been previously achieved for any of the gas planets in our solar system except Jupiter. In this animation, the viewer takes the perspective of an object circling Neptune matching its rotational speed, much like a geostationary satellite hovering above the same spot. Only then does the giant gas planet reveal the movements of its features relative to each other, often in opposite directions.
Credit: E. Karkoschka/University of Arizona