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Temperature changes and energy inputs in giant planet atmospheres: what we are learning from H3+.

Stallard, TS; Melin, H; Miller, S; O'Donoghue, J; Cowley, SW; Badman, SV; Adriani, A; (2012) Temperature changes and energy inputs in giant planet atmospheres: what we are learning from H3+. Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci , 370 (1978) 5213 - 5224. 10.1098/rsta.2012.0028.

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Abstract

Since its discovery at Jupiter in 1988, emission from H(3)(+) has been used as a valuable diagnostic tool in our understanding of the upper atmospheres of the giant planets. One of the lasting questions we have about the giant planets is why the measured upper atmosphere temperatures are always consistently hotter than the temperatures expected from solar heating alone. Here, we describe how H(3)(+) forms across each of the planetary disks of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus, presenting the first observations of equatorial H(3)(+) at Saturn and the first profile of H(3)(+) emission at Uranus not significantly distorted by the effects of the Earth's atmosphere. We also review past observations of variations in temperature measured at Uranus and Jupiter over a wide variety of time scales. To this, we add new observations of temperature changes at Saturn, using observations by Cassini. We conclude that the causes of the significant level of thermal variability observed over all three planets is not only an important question in itself, but that explaining these variations could be the key to answering the more general question of why giant planet upper atmospheres are so hot.

Type: Article
Title: Temperature changes and energy inputs in giant planet atmospheres: what we are learning from H3+.
Location: England
DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2012.0028
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Science and Technology Studies
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1372280
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