NASA bombshell: How space agency made ‘puzzling' discovery on Neptune – ‘Mystery’

NASA bombshell: How space agency made ‘puzzling' discovery on Neptune – ‘Mystery’

Neptune is the eighth and furthest known planet from the Sun in the Solar System and is 17 times the mass of Earth. In 1987, NASA launched its Voyager programme armed with two robotic probes – Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 to study the outer Solar System. Just over a decade later, in 1998, Voyager 2 made a close flyby of the Blue Planet, and scientists were left stumped.

Brian Cox revealed during his new BBC series “The Planets” how they discovered storms raging on Neptune.

Stranger still, they made an even more puzzling find below the surface.

He said last month: “Over the years, we’ve observed more storms raging on the planet.

“It’s one of the great mysteries of planetary exploration, why a planet so far from the Sun, with so little energy falling into its atmosphere from sunlight, can have the most extreme winds in the Solar System. 

“Yet Voyager made yet another puzzling discovery. 

“Although further from the Sun, the planet is warmer than Uranus.

“The source of this extra heat remains a mystery.”

Dr Cox went on to reveal how this bizarre phenomenon is causing extreme conditions in the atmosphere.

He added: “For some reason, Neptune emits over two-and-a-half times the heat it receives from the Sun.

“This internal heat helps to explain the ferocious storms.

“As the heat makes its way from the core of the planet and out into space, it churns the entire atmosphere, creating winds unlike anything seen elsewhere in the Solar System.”

Dr Cox went on to detail his theory behind the extreme weather seen on Neptune.

He continued: “The probable reason that wind speeds can be so high is that there is no solid surface on the planet like Neptune. 

Its exotic liquids further down, and gases further up.

“But there’s no rocky surface, there are no mountains and continents to break up the flow of atmospheric gases and, so, the winds can just whip around the planet at supersonic speeds.”

It was revealed during the same series how NASA discovered a “new world” the size of Pluto with the Hubble telescope.

“From Earth, Pluto, far away on the inner edge of the Kuiper belt, is so distant, even with Hubble, it appears as nothing more than a fuzzy image.

“But Pluto was not alone, we began to detect other distant objects.

“Then Hubble discovered that another world is almost the same size as Pluto.

“The discovery of this new world forced us to reconsider what we mean by the word planet.”

In 2005, Eris, a dwarf planet in the scattered disc which is 27 percent more massive than Pluto, was found.

This led scientists to completely reconsider how they defined a planet.

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