36th DPS Meeting, 8-12 November 2004
Session 17 Kuiper Belt II: Binaries and Dynamics
Poster I, Tuesday, November 9, 2004, 4:00-7:00pm, Exhibition Hall 1A

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[17.01] Observation of an Opposition Surge on Triton

B.D. Herbert (Cornell University), B.J. Buratti (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), B. Schmidt (University of Arizona), J.M. Bauer, M.D. Hicks (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Ground-based observations of Neptuneís moon Triton taken during the summers of 2000, 2003, and 2004 show a rotational light curve with a large amplitude. This is in stark contrast to data from the 1989 Voyager II flyby, which implies significant changes have occurred on Tritonís surface since that time. The light curve has two notable regions, one that is significantly brighter than was observed in 1989 and one that is significantly darker. Data were also taken at a broad range of solar phase angles, allowing for a comprehensive study of the effects of phase on Tritonís brightness. Analysis of the phase curve yields a solar phase coefficient close to zero for phases greater than ~0.08 degrees, a number in close agreement with past studies that focused on higher phase angles. We also report a previously unrecognized opposition surge. Preliminary analysis suggests that the surge has different characteristics in the dark and bright regions currently visible on Triton, implying a non-homogenous regolith. Funding for this project was provided in part by the New York Space Grant Consortium and the NASA Undergraduate Student Research Program.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: bdh24@cornell.edu

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 #4
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.