Infrared Studies of Jupiter’s Atmospheric Circulation in the Era of the Spaxel

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 - 9:00am PST
Leigh Fletcher
University of Leicester
Event Type: 

Observations of Jupiter’s infrared spectrum provide access to the internal workings of the extreme atmosphere of this archetypal giant planet. Gaseous absorption and emission features are superimposed onto a continuum formed from hydrogen and helium collisions and aerosol opacity, allowing us to reconstruct the three-dimensional thermal, chemical, and cloud structure of the atmosphere, from the churning cloud tops into the stably-stratified middle atmosphere. Spatially-resolved infrared spectroscopy (spaxels, or spectral pixels) therefore reveals the dynamics and chemistry of Jupiter’s atmosphere, from small-scale convective storm features, to medium-scale belt/zone variability, to large-scale global circulation patterns. Such observations were only previously possible from visiting spacecraft, such as Voyager and Cassini. In this presentation, I will discuss the latest developments in Earth-based infrared mapping of Jupiter, using both ground-based facilities (IRTF and VLT, and SOFIA (FORCAST,, and their importance in supporting NASA’s Juno mission.

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