This Week’s “Where In The Universe” Challenge

It’s time once again for this week’s Where In The Universe challenge. Take a look at the image above and try to determine where in the universe this image was taken. Give yourself extra points if you can name the spacecraft responsible for taking this image. As always, no peeking below for the before you make your guess.

Here’s one more image of this object.

Ready for the answer?

These are images of Neptune’s moon Proteus. Needless to say, Proteus is not one of the better-known moons of our solar system. Did you recognize it? Proteus was discovered in 1989 by the only spacecraft that has flown by Neptune, Voyager 2. Though Proteus (400 km diameter) is larger than Neptune’s better known moon, Nereid (340 km, which was discovered in 1949 by Gerard Kuiper) Proteus was not discovered earlier because it is very dark and so close to Neptune that it is difficult to see in the glare of the much brighter planet.

Proteus has an irregular almost box-like shape, and scientists believe it is probably about as big as an irregular body can be before its gravity pulls it into a more spherical configuration.

There’s not a lot of action on Proteus. The heavily cratered surface shows no signs of geologic activity.

Other than those facts, there’s not much to say about Proteus. As Bill Arnett says on his Nine Planets website, “We know next to nothing about Proteus.” We’ve not sent a spacecraft to go visit and study Neptune and its moons specifically, and although NASA was considering sending a probe to Neptune a few years ago, it appears such a mission has been put on the back burner.

How’d you do in this week’s challenge?

20 Replies to “This Week’s “Where In The Universe” Challenge”

  1. I first thought it could be an asteroid but then I realized there is no such photo of an asteroid and this image does not look like a radar image either. Then I thought maybe it was some obscure shepherd moon of Saturn but it doesn’t really look like one. That’s where I gave up. So in other words: not an inkling. I think this “where in the universe” thing has a problem. It seems that there are only either very easy targets or very hard, not much in between. But as stated above, it’s an opportunity to learn something new.

    Keep them coming!

  2. Failed miserably on this one. The first photo at first glance led me to think of Mimas, perhaps shot by one of the voyagers, but then I went “nope, it can’t be, Mimas is pretty round”, so I thought perhaps it was an old photo of some of the small irregular moons of Saturn.

    We need a Cassini-like spacecraft out there in Uranus and/or Neptune!

  3. From the first guess I had, I thought it was Mimas due to the fact of the large death star like crater…just a darker image

  4. It’s a charcoal briquet from my bbq. I put it on a black cloth and took a lousy picture. Anyone get it?

  5. There are not many pictures of Proteus, so I knew what it was and that it was Voyager 2 because we haven’t yet sent other spacecraft to Neptune. The big crater is named Pharos.

  6. I got the moon part right! But I thought it was either Phobos or Deimos. I had never heard of Proteus before so I have learned something new. Will follow up on this with the space simulation software Celestia. Thank you!

  7. I recognized the picture of “that moon with that giant crater”, but like names and faces of people, I failed to come up with it’s name or photographer!

  8. Thought Mimus. Then thought better of it. Guessed an asteroid, but was not confident with the guess. My 5th miss.

  9. The prominent crater made me thought it was Mimas too. Oh well. However because of the image’s low resolution I guessed correctly that it was taken by one of the Voyagers. Thanks.

  10. I was quite good: I was sure this was a photo taken by one of the voyagers (I always mix up 1 and 2, though) and that it was either one of Neptune’s or Uranus’ moons.


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