Lecture: 18 July “Peering through Jupiter’s Clouds with Keck and the VLA” by Imke de Pater

18 July 2017, Tuesday, 7:45 PM, Presidio Officers’ Club

“Peering through Jupiter’s Clouds with Keck and the VLA”


Imke de Pater, PhD, UCB, Dept of Astronomy

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.

Brief Bio

Imke de Pater is a Professor in the Department of Astronomy at UC Berkeley, and a world- renowned planetary scientist. She is an authority on modeling and mapping the planets of our solar system, and led a worldwide campaign to observe the impact of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter in 1994. This lead to a detailed investigation of the effects of impacts on the magnetospheric environment of Jupiter. Her research interests includes: infrared observations on the Keck, Gemini and VLT telescopes. She also observes the giant planets at radio wavelengths, using the Very Large Array, ALMA and LOFAR.

Many exciting discoveries include impacts on Jupiter, volcanism on Io, clouds on Titan and Uranus and planetary ring systems.

View her website at: http://astron.berkeley.edu/~

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