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With Explore the Planets, investigate the planets, their moons, and understand the processes that shape them. By G. Jeffrey Taylor, Ph.D. See our DVD collection.
This picture is from a model of how the earth's magnetic field is generated.
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Glaztmeir and Roberts of LANL

The Generation of Neptune's Magnetosphere

Magnetospheres are generated with 1.) magnetic materials and 2.) with motions within the magnetic material. As long as a planet has these two ingredients scientists believe that it can generate a magnetic field.

The Earth-like planets generate magnetospheres within the iron cores at their centers. However, Neptune has almost no iron core.

The magnetic material of Neptune is found within its icy shell. Motions within that shell produce the magnetic field.

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The Structure of Neptune's Interior

There is no surface to the giant planets, only a gradual change from the atmosphere, as pictured in this drawing. Therefore the giant planets do not have strict layers, as the earth-like planets do. Ice...more

Detecting Planetary Magnetism

A magnetometer is an instrument for measuring magnetic fields. Many spacecraft carry magnetometers to measure the magnetic fields around planets. When a spacecraft makes those measurements, what do the...more

The Plasmaspheres of Neptune

Neptune has three tiny plasmaspheres. The rings of Neptune sweep away much of the particles in the area. Particles enter the plasmasphere from the atmosphere as well as the magnetotail. Particles might...more

Neptune's "Scooter"

One of the many cloud patterns of Neptune is the "scooter" which was discovered by Voyager in 1989. In this image, the Great Dark Spot is found in the upper left of the image, and just below the Spot is...more

The position of Neptune when gas changed to ice

The position of the planets in the solar nebula greatly affected their 1. size and 2. composition. This is because of the effect of how cold it was in the nebula. 1. The nebula was a lot warmer close to...more

How a proto-planet sweeps up nearby material

As shown in this picture, while they were forming in the solar nebula, the nuclei of the planets-to-be (called protoplanets) drew material to themselves from the cloud of gas and dust around them. The...more

The Atmosphere of Triton

Triton is by far the largest moon of Neptune. It is slightly smaller than Earth's Moon. The surface of Triton is colder than the surface of any other planet or moon in our Solar System. It is so cold on...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA