Montage of Neptune and Triton
(January 6, 1990) This computer generated montage shows Neptune as it would appear from a spacecraft approaching Triton, Neptune's largest moon at 2706 km (1683 mi) in diameter. The wind and sublimation eroded south polar cap of Triton is shown at the bottom of the Triton image, a cryovolcanic terrain at the upper right, and the enigmatic "cantaloupe terrain" at the upper left. Triton's surface is mostly covered by nitrogen frost mixed with traces of condensed methane, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide. The tenuous atmosphere of Triton, though only about one hundredth of one percent of Earth's atmospheric density at the surface, is thick enough to produce wind-deposited streaks of dark and bright materials of unknown composition in the south polar cap region. The southern polar cap was sublimating at the time of the Voyager 2 flyby, as indicated by the irregular and eroded appearance of the edge of the cap...Image # : PIA00340
NASA Photo Collection
In 1977, Voyager 1 and 2 started their one-way journey to the end of the solar system and beyond, now traveling a million miles a day. Jimmy Carter was president when NASA launched two probes from Cape Canaveral. Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, were initially meant to explore Jupiter, Saturn, and their moons. They did that. But then they kept going at a rate of 35,000 miles per hour. Each craft bears an object that is a record, both dubbed the Golden Records. They were the product of Carl Sagan and his team who produced a record that would, if discovered by aliens, represent humanity and "communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials."