Where In The Universe Challenge #26

Here’s the image for this week’s “Where In The Universe” challenge. And, like last week, we’ll provide the image, but won’t reveal the answer right away. This gives everyone a chance to mull over the image and provide their answer in the comment section. But check back tomorrow for the answer and to see how you did. Again, here’s the procedure: 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. Post your answers in the comments (if you’re brave enough!) and check back tomorrow for the answer. Good luck!

UPDATE: The answer has now been posted below. If you haven’t made your guess yet, no peeking before you do!!

As the majority of the commenters said, this is Neptune’s moon Triton, taken by Voyager 2. In the summer of 1989, NASA’s Voyager 2 became the first spacecraft to observe the planet Neptune, its final planetary target. Passing about 4,950 kilometers (3,000 miles) above Neptune’s north pole, Voyager 2 made its closest approach to any planet since leaving Earth 12 years earlier. Five hours later, Voyager 2 passed about 40,000 kilometers (25,000 miles) from Neptune’s largest moon, Triton, the last solid body the spacecraft will have an opportunity to study.

Good job, everyone!

59 Replies to “Where In The Universe Challenge #26”

  1. DestroyAllHumans – you’re funny 😀

    I have no idea about what I’m looking at here… I would’ve hazarded a guess at Mercury by Mariner 10…. but it looks like that rather uneducated guess goes against the UT consensus…. I’d better do some more planetary studies, I feel woefully inept. 😐

    Oh well, back to my solar studies I guess 🙂

    Nice one Nancy!

    Cheers, Ian

  2. Triton taken by Voyager 2. Triton (pronounced /?tra?t?n/ TRYE-t?n, or as in Greek ??????), is the largest moon of the planet Neptune, discovered on October 10, 1846 by William Lassell. It is the only large moon in the Solar System with a retrograde orbit, which is an orbit in the opposite direction to its planet’s rotation. At 2700 km in diameter, it is the seventh-largest moon in the Solar System. Triton comprises more than 99.5% of all the mass known to orbit Neptune, including the planet’s rings and twelve other known moons. It is also more massive than all the Solar System’s 159 known smaller moons combined.

    Because of its retrograde orbit (unique for an object of its size) and similar composition to Pluto, Triton is thought to have been captured from the Kuiper belt. Triton consists of a crust of frozen nitrogen over an icy mantle believed to cover a substantial core of rock and metal. The core makes up two-thirds of its total mass. Triton has a mean density of 2.061 g/cm3 and is composed of approximately 15–35% water ice.

    Triton is one of the few moons in the Solar System known to be geologically active. Its crust is dotted with geysers believed to erupt nitrogen. As a consequence, its surface is relatively young, with a complex geological history revealed in intricate and mysterious tectonic terrains. Triton has a tenuous nitrogen atmosphere less than 1/70 000th the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere at sea level.

  3. Ah, this is the moon Triton of the planet Neptune. I’m not sure about the spacecraft, though. I think it was one of the Voyagers – I have this vague notion that the Pioneers only visited the two big ones – but I don’t know which one.

  4. Triton – it took me less than a second.
    I have been studying the ice giants recently, looking for any potential new mission that may be proposed. Someone should get a probe there as soon as possible. Very interesting place!

  5. Oh come, anyone who knows anything about space would know Triton in a second.

    And I presume anyone who reads UT has at least some interest and knowledge about space, otherwise they are only here by accident.

    Let’s have a REAL challenge next time.

  6. Those little geyser marks just give it away, don’t they?

    It is Triton, moon of Neptune, and the picture was snapped by Voyager 2 in 1989 (ok, I had to look up the year!)

  7. Well, we seem to have a consensus anyway… Took me a few seconds (before reading the comments, of course!) but then I came upon triton, which of course means Voyager 2, 1989, end of the Grand Tour.

  8. Ian, to which his own, don’t worry. If Nancy started to post images of the sun in these challenges, I’d probably guess it was the sun (well… that’s a lot easier than Triton), but as far as the spacecraft goes, I’d just blurt “Soho” every time. Especially if the sun looked green. 😉

    You, on the other hand, would certainly be able to name a number of other spacecraft, and would probably even know which solar cycle the pictures referred to. Heck, you might even be able to name the sunspots! Er… assuming they have names, that is… 🙂

    Still, the really funny thing here is that I’m currently reading a novel written by the guy who commented right after me (in the same minute, in fact), which was published by the same publisher that pays my bills in exchange for translations.

    This is what I’d call a cosmic coincidence! 😀

  9. Well, everyone seems pretty sure… I was going to guess Enceledus (sp?) and I guess Cassini. With the mention of the black geysers it makes sense it is Triton (nitrogen)? The top part of the picture looks kinda like Enceladus, no?

  10. Yes, I remember this image from a National Geographic magazine I delighted in as a boy. It was about Voyager 2 … I think I even remember it ended in “…send more Chuck Berry!”.

  11. Yes, it is Triton taken by Voyager 2. It was a bittersweet time looking at the spectacular photos of Triton and Neptune, knowing that this was the end of the Voyager tour (other than some interesting measurements to come out at the heliopause and Sagan’s “pale blue dot” shot from the edge of the solar system. I spent my young adult years waiting for each next Voyager encounter. Still waiting to see Pluto when New Horizons gets there. I’m guessing it will look a lot like Triton…

  12. I didn’t know the resolution for Voyager 2 was that good… If it weren’t for everyone else saying Triton, I would have said it is a new picture of Mercury

  13. What’s the point of extra credit for planets that have only been visited by a single spacecraft?

    I wonder how similar Pluto will look to Triton. We’ll find out in 7 years!

  14. Yes, it is Triton. Good detail on the image. Better than any reproduction I’ve seen. This could be a glimpse of wha Pluto and other ‘dwarf planets’ in the Kuiper Belt are like.

  15. This is a thank you to Jorge, I love getting reading lists from unexpected places, I just checked my local library and they have three titles by Paul McAuley and I have reseved all three, I’m looking forward to reading all of them, thanks again to both Jorge and to Paul for the insight and for having written them. 🙂

  16. That’s a picture of an old golf ball that I kept since I was a kid! This is incredible! Small world.

  17. Hey my turn! The dark plumes gave it away for me and I knew it was Triton. Its a great (composite) image of the south polar cap by Voyager 2.

  18. Okay – I endorse to the group of braggarts. Neptunes moon Triton – taken by voyager 2.

    I must admit I first gueesed on Saturns moon Enceladus, and still find a good similarity, becourse of the lines on the surface.


  19. It’s a picture of Earth sent back from the future taken from the ISS, star-date 2012….Doomsday!!!!

  20. Being in Europe I never get to see these images early enoght to get in first. Even so I saw the image and said to myself, Triton, cantelope terain and Voyager (okay so I couldn’t remember if it was Voyager 1 or 2 but Janeway was definitely not on board!).


  21. I think it is ganymede by Galileo???

    After reading the comments looks like i am by a few AU’s…:(

  22. At first glance I thought it”s Europe but my final conclusion is Triton, taken from Voyager 2

  23. No you’re all wrong. It a close up of a ‘pile’ that was surgically removed from me and used to be in orbit around myanus.

    Photo taken by Suzie Sheerbottom during a porno photoshoot last week


  24. I got this one right: Triton, I’m guessing Voyager 2 snapped it. Interesting for me to see that this moon also has double ridges running along its surface as on Europa.

  25. I keep forgetting – so many of you either weren’t even born in 1989 or were too young to remember and appreciate Voyager 2’s last planetary flyby (in working order, at least).

    So sad all the way around.

    But if you anything about astronomy, the only closeup photos of Triton we will likely ever see in our lifetimes (well, mine, anyway, judging by how wet behind the ears most of you apparently are) should be high on your list of famous images from space.

    But, seriously, next time pick an image for the real space pros. There are a few of us left, but apparently we are a dying breed.

    And I had to first see that image in a magazine, not the Internet! I know, how did we ever manage to survive back then?

  26. Here’s the thing. Hiding the real answer doesn’t help much because by the first 3 or 4 comments its been pegged anyway. Too bad there wasn’t a way to hide the comments. Of course if the temptation to peek is too strong … 🙂

  27. Southern hemisphere of Triton, satellite of Neptune.
    I don’t recall the spacecraft… maybe a Voyager?

    Now I’m going to check…


  29. uh oh…. I called it Iapetus taken by Cassinni because of the stark differences in the coloration. I get the feeling that I missed it by a few million miles….

  30. Triton mosaic by Voyager 2. Notice the 2 types of terrain: 1)the jumbled, rille infested regions near the terminator & 2) the lightly colored, cratered region with dark streaks appearing near some (possibly ejecta spewed by liquid nitrogen ‘ice volcanoes’!). Great shot of one of the coldest bodies in the solar system.

  31. You could do it like Filmwise-invisibles. They don’t allow comments in the actual Invisibles challenge, though the forum has hints, so long as no one comes right out and says what the movie is.

  32. On August 25, 1989, I was glued to the TV expecting pictures from Voyagere 2’s too quick passage through the Neptune system. The picture is a mosaic of Triton of course.

  33. Let’s not get overboard here. Yeah, there will probably always be a few people who peek. Who cares? Some of us don’t, and I’ll bet that once a truly hard challenge comes up there’ll be answers going in all directions, so much so that even those who peek will have a hard time knowing which answer to… hm… “adopt as their own”, so to speak.

    So I say let it be as it is. I’m looking forward for the anticipation of not knowing for a day or so if I got one doubtful answer right or not, irrespective of what the others might say.

  34. It’s a beautiful and rare picture taken by Voyager 2 during its passage at Neptune. It shows the moon Triton in bright detail.

    When the picture was later analysed in detail, it became clear that the dark ‘stripes’ on the picture are vents emanating from the interior of the moon (a bit like earth geysers and the plumes at Enceladus)

    Worth visiting again !!

  35. The answer is Triton, taken by Voyager 2 in 1989. Thanks everyone for your answers!

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