Special Issue "Developments in the Detection and Characterization of Planetary Atmospheres"

A special issue of Atmosphere (ISSN 2073-4433). This special issue belongs to the section "Planetary Atmospheres".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (19 November 2021) | Viewed by 4857

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Michel Blanc
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie, Université de Toulouse / CNRS / UPS / CNES, Toulouse, France
Interests: planetary magnetospheres; ionospheres and upper atmospheres; giant planet exploration; space exploration of the solar system; planetary systems; space plasma physics
Dr. Thomas Smith
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China
Interests: geochemistry; cosmochemistry; meteoritics; planetary science; mass spectrometry; noble gases

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The study of planetary and exoplanetary atmospheres involves a wide range of techniques and disciplines which provide crucial information about their vertical layering, their dynamics and chemistry, and the role of condensable species in their meteorology. It is also a key contributor to the understanding of planet and moon climates and their potential as habitable worlds, particularly in the case of exoplanets. The techniques involved in such investigations include, among others, ground-based telescopic observations, computer simulations and numerical models, and direct spacecraft observations (orbiters, landers, entry probes). The study of the various atmospheric and exospheric environments in our solar system, from telluric planets to gas and ice giants and even to dwarf planets, as well as of their respective satellites (such as the Galilean moons of Jupiter, Saturn’s moon Titan, and Neptune’s moon Triton), offer a “close” comparative laboratory in our understanding of the growing numbers of exoplanet candidates and their potential habitability.

We are inviting researchers to contribute original research articles as well as review articles including the current state-of-the art techniques for the observation/investigation of (exo-)planetary atmospheres, their composition, chemistry, and dynamics. In addition, authors are encouraged to discuss the current technical challenges and recent developments, as well as put emphasis on the habitability issue.

Dr. Michel Blanc
Dr. Thomas Smith
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • observation/investigation of (exo-)planetary atmospheres
  • exoplanetary atmospheres
  • atmospheric and exospheric environments
  • telluric planets
  • dwarf planets

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Article
From Atmospheric Evolution to the Search of Species of Astrobiological Interest in the Solar System—Case Studies Using the Planetary Spectrum Generator
Atmosphere 2022, 13(3), 461; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos13030461 - 12 Mar 2022
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Abstract
The study of minor chemical species in terrestrial planets’ atmospheres can teach us about the chemistry, dynamics and evolution of the atmospheres through time. Phosphine or methane on terrestrial planets are potential biosignatures, such that their detection may signify the presence of life [...] Read more.
The study of minor chemical species in terrestrial planets’ atmospheres can teach us about the chemistry, dynamics and evolution of the atmospheres through time. Phosphine or methane on terrestrial planets are potential biosignatures, such that their detection may signify the presence of life on a planet. Therefore, the search for these species in the solar system is an important step for the subsequent application of the same techniques to exoplanetary atmospheres. To study atmospheric depletion and the evolution of water abundance in the atmospheres of terrestrial planets, the estimation of the D/H ratio and its spatial and temporal variability is used. We used the Planetary Spectrum Generator (PSG), a radiative transfer suite, with the goal of simulating spectra from observations of Venus, Mars and Jupiter, searching for minor chemical species. The present study contributes to highlight that the PSG is an efficient tool for studying minor chemical species and compounds of astrobiological interest in planetary atmospheres, allowing to perform the detection and retrieval of the relevant molecular species. Regarding detection, it is effective in disentangling different molecular opacities affecting observations. In order to contribute to the scientific community that is focused on the study of minor chemical species in the solar system’s atmospheres, using this tool, in this work, we present the results from an analysis of observations of Venus, Mars and Jupiter, by comparison of observations with simulations in the infrared (IR). The first step was to clearly identify the position of molecular features using our model simulations, since the molecular absorption/emission features of different molecules tend to overlap. For this step, we used the method of the variation of abundances. The second step was to determine the molecular abundances and compare them with values from the literature using the retrieval method and the line depth ratio method. For Venus, our study of SO2-related observations by the Texas Echelon Cross Echelle Spectrograph (TEXES) at 7.4 μm enabled the identification of absorption lines due to sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide as well as constrain the abundance of SO2 at the cloud top. Phosphine was not detected in the comparison between the simulation and TEXES IR observations around 10.5 μm. For Mars, both a positive and a non-detection of methane were studied using PSG simulations. The related spectra observations in the IR, at approximately 3.3 μm, correspond, respectively, to the Mars Express (MEx) and ExoMars space probes. Moreover, an estimate of the deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio (D/H ratio) was obtained by comparing the simulations with observations by the Echelon Cross Echelle Spectrograph (EXES) onboard the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) at approximately 7.19–7.23 μm. For Jupiter, the detection of ammonia, phosphine, deuterated methane and methane was studied, by comparing the simulations with IR observations by the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) at approximately 7–12 μm. Moreover, the retrieval of the profiles of ammonia and phosphine was performed. Full article
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Article
Amateur Observers Witness the Return of Venus’ Cloud Discontinuity
Atmosphere 2022, 13(2), 348; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos13020348 - 18 Feb 2022
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Abstract
Firstly identified in images from JAXA’s orbiter Akatsuki, the cloud discontinuity of Venus is a planetary-scale phenomenon known to be recurrent since, at least, the 1980s. Interpreted as a new type of Kelvin wave, this disruption is associated to dramatic changes in [...] Read more.
Firstly identified in images from JAXA’s orbiter Akatsuki, the cloud discontinuity of Venus is a planetary-scale phenomenon known to be recurrent since, at least, the 1980s. Interpreted as a new type of Kelvin wave, this disruption is associated to dramatic changes in the clouds’ opacity and distribution of aerosols, and it may constitute a critical piece for our understanding of the thermal balance and atmospheric circulation of Venus. Here, we report its reappearance on the dayside middle clouds four years after its last detection with Akatsuki/IR1, and for the first time, we characterize its main properties using exclusively near-infrared images from amateur observations. In agreement with previous reports, the discontinuity exhibited temporal variations in its zonal speed, orientation, length, and its effect over the clouds’ albedo during the 2019/2020 eastern elongation. Finally, a comparison with simultaneous observations by Akatsuki UVI and LIR confirmed that the discontinuity is not visible on the upper clouds’ albedo or thermal emission, while zonal speeds are slower than winds at the clouds’ top and faster than at the middle clouds, evidencing that this Kelvin wave might be transporting momentum up to upper clouds. Full article
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Article
Kelvin Wave and Its Impact on the Venus Atmosphere Tested by Observing System Simulation Experiment
Atmosphere 2022, 13(2), 182; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos13020182 - 24 Jan 2022
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Abstract
At the cloud top of the Venus atmosphere, equatorial Kelvin waves have been observed and are considered to play an important role in the super-rotation. We were able to reproduce the wave in a general circulation model (GCM) by conducting an observing system [...] Read more.
At the cloud top of the Venus atmosphere, equatorial Kelvin waves have been observed and are considered to play an important role in the super-rotation. We were able to reproduce the wave in a general circulation model (GCM) by conducting an observing system simulation experiment (OSSE) with the help of a data assimilation system. The synthetic horizontal winds of the Kelvin wave produced by the linear wave propagating model are assimilated at the cloud top (~70 km) in realistic conditions, assuming they are obtained from cloud tracking of ultra-violet images (UVI) taken by the Venus orbiters. It is demonstrated using Eliassen–Palm (EP) fluxes that the reproduced Kelvin wave transports angular momentum and plays an important role in the magnitude and structure of the super-rotation, causing the acceleration and deceleration of zonal wind of ~0.1 m/s day−1. The conditions required in order to reproduce the Kelvin wave have also been investigated. It is desirable to have 24 hourly dayside satellite observations in an equatorial orbit, such as the Akatsuki Venus climate orbiter. The results of this type of data assimilation study will be useful in the planning of future observation missions to the atmospheres of planets. Full article
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Article
Eyjafjallajökull Volcanic Ash 2010 Effects on GPS Positioning Performance in the Adriatic Sea Region
Atmosphere 2022, 13(1), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos13010047 - 28 Dec 2021
Viewed by 435
Abstract
The Eyjafjallajökull volcanic ash crisis in 2010 temporarily suspended European air traffic operations, as the 39-day eruption caused widely dispersed ashes to enter the lower atmosphere. In this paper, we assessed the effects of this event on the ionosphere layer and, consequently, on [...] Read more.
The Eyjafjallajökull volcanic ash crisis in 2010 temporarily suspended European air traffic operations, as the 39-day eruption caused widely dispersed ashes to enter the lower atmosphere. In this paper, we assessed the effects of this event on the ionosphere layer and, consequently, on GPS positioning. We collected and analysed the data from four IGS stations, nearest to the volcano, for the month of April 2010. We recorded Vertical Total Electron Content (VTEC) time series, analysed their dynamics, and compared them with the GPS positioning errors of a commercial-grade, un-aided, single-frequency GPS receiver (simulating the response of a mass-market GPS receiver). The geomagnetic indices during the time period show little geomagnetic disturbance, especially during the volcanic event. Our results show an enhancement in ionosphere error by up to 15% during the volcanic ash event and an enhanced variance in GPS position components errors. This study reveals the potential impact of the charged volcanic ash on single-frequency, unaided GPS positioning accuracy in the Adriatic Sea region and establishes a foundation for studying similar events in future. Full article
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