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The Voyager 2 spacecraft was launched from Earth in 1977, and then flew by Jupiter in July 1979, Saturn in August 1981, and Uranus in January 1986. Uranus accelerated Voyager 2 toward a flyby of Neptune along a hyperbolic orbit in August 1989. The season on Neptune was late spring, nearly summer, in its southern hemisphere. The closest approach (18,169 mi [29,240 km]) to Neptune's center occurred at 3:56 Universal Time (U.T.) on August 25, 1989, about 4,900 km above the cloud tops of its north polar region. During Voyager 2's encounter with Neptune from June 5, 1989, to October 2, 1989, the observations it made greatly increased our knowledge about the Neptune system. The plane of Neptune's equator is tilted 29.6° to the plane of its orbit around the Sun. Voyager 2 flew by Triton at a minimum distance of 24,724 mi (39,790 km) on August 25, 1989 at about 9:10 U.T. It observed Triton continuously from about 6:00 U.T. to 12:00 U.T. on that date, and discovered much about Triton that will be discussed in detail in a separate section. The main discoveries Voyager 2 made about Neptune, its rings, and its small satellites follow.