Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

November 4, 1995

Neptune's Moon Proteus
Credit: NASA, Voyager 2

Explanation: Proteus is the second largest moon of Neptune behind the mysterious Triton. Proteus was discovered only in 1982 by the Voyager 2 spacecraft. This is unusual since Neptune has a smaller moon - Nereid - which was discovered 33 years earlier from Earth. The reason Proteus was not discovered sooner is that its surface is very dark and it orbits much closer to Neptune. Proteus has an odd box-like shape and were it even slightly more massive, its own gravity would cause it to reform itself into a sphere.

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.