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Emily LakdawallaMarch 11, 2016

Approaching Neptune

A couple of days ago, a scientist friend asked me if I knew of modern reprocessed versions of the movies that the Voyager spacecraft made as they approached Saturn, Uranus, or Neptune. I pointed them to a terrific Saturn approach movie, but couldn't locate Uranus or Neptune ones, so I turned to the amateur image processing community at unmannedspaceflight.com to ask if anyone there had worked on this problem. It turns out that Ian Regan had, and a few days later Regan shared this "rough draft" of a Neptune approach movie. It's going to take much more work to turn it into a color movie, but I think it is spectacular as is, and am glad to share it here:

NASA / JPL / Ian Regan

Approaching Neptune (video)
Voyager 2 flew past Neptune on August 25, 1989. Here, Ian Regan has taken a long sequence of Neptune images shot through many different filters in July and August 1989, as Voyager 2 approached. Regan aligned them to make a rough draft of a movie of the spinning planet. It will take much more work to generate color frames from the images. Voyager 2 was relaying the images to Earth as it was taking them, so its frame rate was limited by how fast it could send each image: images are separated in time by about 5 minutes. There were gaps in imaging as Voyager 2 turned its camera to photograph other features in the Neptune system (rings and moons).

Read more: amateur image processing, Voyager 1 and 2, Neptune, animation

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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