Triton: Do We See to the Surface?

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Science  21 Jul 1989:
Vol. 245, Issue 4915, pp. 283-286
DOI: 10.1126/science.245.4915.283


The quantity and physical state of methane and nitrogen in the atmosphere of Neptune's satellite Triton and on the surface are evaluated by means of new telescopic data and laboratory measurements of these volatiles. Methane ice is seen in some spectral regions, indicating that the atmosphere is sufficiently transparent to permit sunlight penetration to the surface. Some of the molecular nitrogen absorption occurs in the atmosphere, though some must occur in condensed nitrogen (liquid or solid) on Triton's surface, or in a thin cloud of condensed nitrogen. The Voyager spacecraft cameras should see the surface of Triton.

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