Welcome Hippocamp!

Hubble Space Telescope image analysis to the discovery of Hippocamp moon (circled). Image credit: NASA/Hubble/StSI

Hubble Space Telescope image analysis to the discovery of Hippocamp moon (circled). Image credit: NASA/Hubble/StSI

Greetings Earthlings and welcome back to another segment of Universe Playpen!

Let’s welcome to the Solar System Hippocamp (a.k.a. S/2004 N1), a new moon discovered around Neptune!

Neptune did not have its own mission (not yet anyway), so discovering moons and rings must come from other means, such as the Voyager fly-bys and the Hubble Space Telescope!

Hippocamp, just a little over 10 miles large, was found through a newer technique for image analysis of past planetary images, mainly the Hubble Space Telescope! The moon was then confirmed in later images from Hubble!

Satellite orbits around Neptune with Hippocamp circled. Image credit: NASA

Satellite orbits around Neptune with Hippocamp circled. Image credit: NASA

This new technique can bring about many golden opportunities to sift through years and years of previous images, most of which are publicly available! Maybe this will lead to a citizen-scientist program? What more moons and rings would we discover?

In the meantime, we truly need a mission to the icy giants!

Thank you for reading and come back next week for a look at what’s going on at Bennu!

Caitlin Ahrens