Washington: A US scientist has created the best global colour map so far of Neptune’s big moon Triton.
Paul Schenk of Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston used images taken by a NASA spacecraft 25 years ago to prepare the map.
The map assumes significance as NASA spacecraft New Horizons is moving towards a flyby of Pluto July 14 next year.
Given the fact that Triton and Pluto share many striking features, the map will be helpful for scientists studying Pluto.
In the intervening quarter century and its many discoveries, I think we have tended to forget how strange and exotic Triton really is!” Schenk wrote in his blog post.
Schenk produced the map after restoring photos taken by the Voyager 2 probe during its flyby of Neptune and Triton Aug 25, 1989.
Both Triton and Pluto are a bit smaller than the earth’s moon and possess nitrogen-dominated atmospheres.
Interestingly, NASA’s New Horizons probe was scheduled to cross the orbit of Neptune Aug 25, nearly 25 years after Voyager 2’s encounter.