Dr. Kathy Rages

December 21, 2006

“Radiative Transfer Modeling of Planetary Atmospheric Structure”

NCC 2–1337

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) continues to produce spatially resolved images of the outer planets on a more-or-less yearly timescale, and is being joined by ground-based telescopes using adaptive optics to produce comparable (~0.1") spatial resolution in the near-infrared. Data from spacecraft such as Voyager, Galileo, and the various Mars orbiters and landers can still be exploited for very high spatial resolution and scattering geometries much different from any that can be observed from the vicinity of Earth.

This proposal is for work over a three year period to utilize the results of past and ongoing spatially resolved observations of planetary atmospheres to model the vertical structure of scatterers in some of those atmospheres, including latitudinal variations, discrete albedo features, and temporal changes on time scales of months and years. The work will include investigating the properties and vertical distribution of albedo features seen over a 12-year period in Neptune’s atmosphere by both Voyager and HST, examining changes in Uranus’ atmosphere which may be seasonal in origin, characterizing the properties of Jovian and saturnian stratospheric hazes seen by Galileo, Voyager, and HST, and including sunlight scattered by dust in the atmosphere of Mars in the determination of photometric properties for surface objects (rocks).