No, you cannot walk on the surface of Neptune.
In the article that follows, we’ll explain.
Can You Walk On Neptune? (EXPLAINED)
Introduction To Neptune
Neptune is the eighth planet from the sun, and the final planet in our solar system, if you accept that Pluto doesn’t get to count.
Though Galileo Galilei suspected that he had spotted something new out past Jupiter in the 1600s, it wasn’t until the 1800s confirmed that Neptune was not just another star in the heavens, but was in fact, a planet in our solar system.
The discovery of Neptune as a planet was actually quite controversial as multiple astronomers laid claim to the discovery around the same time.
Like Uranus, Neptune is known as an “ice giant.”
The outer edge of the planet that we can see is its atmosphere, made of hydrogen, helium, and methane gas.
Underneath this thick atmosphere, there is a slushy layer of water, ammonia and methane, some of which is present in its icy form.
Underneath that, at the center of the planet, scientists hypothesize that there is a solid core.
This core could be made up of ice, rocks, or some combination.
Some scientists think that the core is similar to Earth’s core, made up metals like iron.
Still others think that the core could be made up of diamond due to the pressure.
The Surface Of Neptune Isn’t Solid
While the core of Neptune is certainly interesting to discuss and explore, it is pretty much irrelevant to the discussion.
After all, the after you get past the gaseous atmosphere surrounding Neptune, you get to the slushy liquid layer.
This layer is very thick, and there is no “crust” like you have here on Earth to land on.
it is almost like the planet is just one big slushy ocean all the way around.
Yes, we know that the planet is called an “ice giant.”
But this does not mean that the planet is actually a big ball of ice orbiting the sun.
Neptune is called an “ice giant” to differentiate it from the “gas giants.”
The reason Neptune needs a different name is that it is big (like the other giants), and it also has a pretty decent sized atmosphere made up of mostly hydrogen and helium.
Just like Saturn and Jupiter.
The “ice” part of the name refers to the ice that exists in the liquid layer of the planet.
You’ll see if you do your research that many websites still call Neptune a “gas giant,” lumping it together with Saturn and Jupiter.
It is not wrong to call Neptune a “gas giant.”
Neptune’s classification as an “ice giant” is a subset under the umbrella of “gas giant.”
Thus, all ice giants in our solar system could also be called gas giants, while not all gas giants could also be called ice giants.
Walking On Neptune
The reason we can’t walk on Neptune is that there’s nothing to stand on.
There’s nothing to land a spaceship on.
There’s nothing for us to put our human feet upon that will hold us up.
Much of the planet is composed of gases.
After the gas, you reach a liquid.
If you were to take your feet and put them on the “surface” of Neptune (whether you consider the surface layer to be the hydrogen/helium mix or the liquid slush layer), you’d sink below the surface.
If you tried to land on the surface, the spaceship would also sink.
Let’s say you wanted to go beneath the surface of the liquid to find the solid core we think exists down in there somewhere.
The pressure where the solid core is located would be immense, significant enough to create diamonds.
Your ship would be crushed before you got there, as would your fragile human body.
There would be no walking, not even a step.
Did You Know? (Other Facts About Neptune)
Here’s some other cool facts about Neptune you should know about:
- Like Uranus, from space the planet Neptune looks blue. This is probably caused by methane. However, Neptune is a brighter blue color than Uranus. Scientists aren’t exactly sure yet why that is.
- Neptune is more than 2.7 billion miles away from the sun. In contrast, Earth is only 91 million miles away from the sun.
- Neptune cannot be viewed from Earth with the naked eye.
- It takes Neptune more than 160 Earth years to orbit the sun just one time. Jupiter, on the other hand, takes only 12 Earth years, and Saturn takes 29 Earth years.
- Neptune rotates more quickly than Earth, completing a full Neptune day in about 16 Earth hours.
- Neptune has seasons! However, since it takes so long to go around the sun, a season on Neptune lasts about 40 years each.
- Neptune has six known narrow rings. The rings are not solid like we see around Saturn. Instead, the rings are sort of clumpy and irregular. The moons around Neptune might be the cause.
- Neptune has 14 moons. In comparison, we’ve identified close to 80 moons orbiting Jupiter, and Uranus has 27 moons, some of which are just clumps of ice orbiting the blue planet.
- Neptune is thought to be more than 4 million years old.
- Scientists theorize that Neptune was once much closer to the sun than it is now.
- Neptune has a strong magnetic field, much stronger than Earth’s magnetic field. This probably causes turbulent winds and storms on Neptune. In fact, winds could be as strong as over 1300 miles per hour on Neptune. This is yet another practical reason why you wouldn’t expect a human to be able to walk on Neptune, even if there was a solid place to land or to take steps upon.
Neptune is a fascinating planet, and we look forward to learning more about it as the progress of space exploration continues.
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