NASA Study Finds Neptune Innermost Moons Carry Zigzag Like Maneuvers

The US space agency NASA has claimed to detect weird orbital movement from two moons of Neptune. Neptune, the eighth planet in the solar system, has fourteen moons. The two moons namely Naiad and Thalassa have been carrying out the swirling exercise in strange orbits. Astronomers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California said they orbit while performing a dance. The study concluded that the innermost moons odd orbital dynamics could be to avoid each other. Scientists involved in the study of orbital dynamics have called it a dance of avoidance. The study said there are different types of orbital dynamics that moons, planets, and asteroids follow in the solar system. But dynamics shown by the Neptune’s moons have never been seen before.

Naiad and Thalassa orbit Neptune only about 1,150 miles apart. But the two never get that close to each other. They orbit the planet in the same direction as Neptune rotates. They remain close to Neptune’s equatorial plane. Scientists said Naiad’s orbit is tilted by five degrees. It spends half of its time above Thalassa and remaining below. Thalassa moves slowly than Naida. It was also observed that when Naiad passes Thalassa, the two are about 2,200 miles apart. While Naiad swirls around Neptune every seven hours, Thalassa takes seven and a half hours. For the study, scientists used data collected between 1981 and 2016. Scientists used telescopes on Earth, Voyager 2, and the Hubble Space Telescope to study the orbital dynamics of Neptune’s moons. Naiad and Thalassa are among the seven inner moons of the plane that are tightly packed.

Neptune is often referred to as an ice giant by scientists. This is because the planet’s rocky, icy cores exceed the amount of gas it contains. It is one of the two ice giants of the solar system. Uranus is the second ice giant. Neptune is also the farthest known planet from the Sun. It is the fourth-largest planet by diameter and third-most-massive planet. It is 17 times the mass of Earth.