Surface Conditions on Neptune

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The surface of Neptune isn't very solid, being a gas giant, and the surface temperature is -225 degrees Celsius. Learn about the atmosphere of Neptune, which is made of hydrogen, helium and methane, with help from a science teacher in this free video on planetary science.

Part of the Video Series: Physics & Electromagnetism
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Steve Jones. I'm going to tell you a little about the surface of Neptune. Now first of all, let's get an idea of what it's like if you were stood on it, not that you would be stood on it, but if you were; it rotates in 16.11 hours. That's a little bit less than the earth. So the day is quite a little bit shorter than our day; but not significantly so. The year however is very different. The year is 165 earth years because it has a long long way to go around the sun. So that's basically something about the planet itself. It is a much larger planet of course. It's the outermost of the four gas giants; starting with Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and then Neptune and Neptune's orbit is a bit strange because sometimes it tucks inside the Uranus orbit. So that is where Neptune is. It is a gas giant, it doesn't have the solid surface and the surface at the temperature is -225 Celsius. Now if you compare that to earth, the lowest temperature ever recorded on earth is around -90. So it's a bit cooler than that. And the atmosphere on the surface of the planet is mainly hydrogen, helium and methane; in fact methane is the biggest component. So in methane, if you look at the actual point of which methane solidifies, presumably it is less than that temperature. So this is all gaseous. The color, the blue green color is due to the methane in the atmosphere. So we see a blue green planet, that's because the light that comes through in it is reflected from the planet is absorb all except the blue and green which the methane reflects. And that's why we see a blue green planet. In other words, it's basically the, the red part of the spectrum it absorbs. So that is basically what the surface of the planet is like. It will not be solid, as I say it's a gas giant. And therefore, one would expect that the whole thing is held together by gravity, but you couldn't stand on it. You have to be a very, very lucky person to get anywhere near it. Gravity is going to be a little bit bigger than the earth's gravity and you would find yourself being rather heavier than you are on earth. So basically that's what the surface of Neptune is like.

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