Red, Gray, and Blue: Near Infrared Spectrophotometry of Faint Moons of Uranus and Neptune

David E. Trilling, Robert H. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Using the CoCo Cold Coronagraph at NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility on Mauna Kea, we observed the uranian satellites Miranda, Puck, Portia, and Rosalind and the neptunian satellite Proteus in the near infrared (JHK) to determine the albedos of those faint satellites. In V-J, all of Puck, Portia, Rosalind, and Proteus are very blue, similar to the colors of many icy satellites and of water ice. The satellites we observed have a wide range of J-H colors, with Miranda being blue, Proteus being gray, and Puck, Portia, and Rosalind being red. For the satellites for which we could determine H-K (Miranda, Puck, and Proteus), the colors are gray to red. As a whole, spectrally, these five satellites lie between icy Solar System satellites (e.g., saturnian satellites or the major uranian satellites) and Kuiper belt objects. The redness of Proteus and Puck and perhaps other satellites suggests the presence of organic material, although the redness is also similar to that of C- and D-class asteroids and some outer jovian moons. In all cases, diagnostic spectral features could be masked by broadband photometry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-306
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2000


  • Ices
  • Infrared observations
  • Satellites of Neptune
  • Satellites of Uranus
  • Spectrophotometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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