Neptune's Wind Speeds Obtained by Tracking Clouds in Voyager Images

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Science  22 Sep 1989:
Vol. 245, Issue 4924, pp. 1367-1369
DOI: 10.1126/science.245.4924.1367


Images of Neptune obtained by the narrow-angle camera of the Voyager 2 spacecraft reveal large-scale cloud features that persist for several months or longer. The features' periods of rotation about the planetary axis range from 15.8 to 18.4 hours. The atmosphere equatorward of -53° rotates with periods longer than the 16.05-hour period deduced from Voyager's planetary radio astronomy experiment (presumably the planet's internal rotation period). The wind speeds computed with respect to this radio period range from 20 meters per second eastward to 325 meters per second westward. Thus, the cloud-top wind speeds are roughly the same for all the planets ranging from Venus to Neptune, even though the solar energy inputs to the atmospheres vary by a factor of 1000.

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