News of the WeekPlanetary Science

Neptune's Hasty Moon Poses Celestial Puzzle

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Science  21 Aug 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5380, pp. 1124
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5380.1124a

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Ever since Newton, astronomers have been calculating the orbits of planets and moons and getting them exactly right. But last week, a team of observers reported that Galatea, a small satellite of the planet Neptune, is a few minutes ahead of schedule. To explain this puzzling haste, astronomers are blaming everything from the gravitational tug of Neptune's mysterious Adams ring to the pull of other, undiscovered moons to an error in the original orbital predictions.