Peer Through Jupiter’s Clouds with Keck & the VLA | SF
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San Francisco Amateur Astronomers | 50 Moraga Ave, The Presidio, San Francisco, CA
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
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Despite the fact that Jupiter has been observed for decades from the ground and in situ by spacecraft, its bulk composition and global atmospheric dynamics is still unknown to mankind. The sensitivity upgrade to the Very Large Array (VLA), combined with novel data reduction techniques, has enabled scientists to produce detailed longitude-resolved maps of Jupiter’s atmosphere at different wavelengths. Since at these wavelengths the main source of opacity is ammonia gas, the maps provide a 3D picture of ammonia gas in Jupiter’s atmosphere, within and below the planet’s visible cloud layers. These maps reveal upward and downward motions within the turbulent atmosphere, and bear a striking resemblance to visible- light images taken by amateur astronomers and Hubble.
At the 10-m Keck telescope they use 5-micron spectroscopy which provides complementary information on cloud altitudes and composition. The results provide important context for NASA’s Juno spacecraft, that arrived at Jupiter on July 4th, 2016, after a five year flight.
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