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Peering through Jupiter's Clouds with Keck and the VLA


Despite the fact that Jupiter has been observed for decades from the ground and in situ by spacecraft, we still do not know its bulk composition nor do we understand its global atmospheric dynamics well. The sensitivity upgrade to the Very Large Array (VLA), combined with novel data reduction techniques, has enabled us 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, our 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 we 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.

Speaker: Imke de Pater, UC Berkeley

Tuesday, 07/18/17


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San Francisco Amateur Astronomers

Presidio Officer's Club
50 Moraga Ave
San Francisco, CA 94129