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Remote Sensing Observations of the Giant Planets

A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2022) | Viewed by 25930

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Astronomy and Department of Earth and Planetary Science, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
Interests: astronomy; planetary science; adaptive optics and radio observations of giant planets, their rings and satellites

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Guest Editor
1. SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Sorbonnelaan 2, NL-3584 CA Utrecht, The Netherlands
2. Leiden Observatory, University of Leiden, Niels Bohrweg 2, 2333CA Leiden, The Netherlands
Interests: astronomy, planetary science, interiors and atmospheres of the giant planets in our solar system and exoplanets

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

General interest in giant planets has increased in recent years with current, recent, and (potential) future missions, and above all because these planets provide nearby examples of the ever-growing number of exoplanets. With the potential to soon be able to characterize a large number of exoplanets, it is becoming ever so important to understand the make-up and evolution of the planets in our own Solar System. With recent advances in remote sensing techniques using premier telescopes, state-of-the-art instruments, and unique remote sensing capabilities from recent missions, we focus in this Special Issue of Remote Sensing on observations of giant planets across the electromagnetic spectrum. Together, these data paint a picture of the giant planets from their interiors up to their outermost atmospheric layers. In this issue, we will compare and contrast the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn with the smaller ice giants Uranus and Neptune. We will also compare our detailed knowledge of solar system giants with the large amount of data coming from giant exoplanets and the prospects for this field in the near future. Review contributions are welcomed, as well as papers describing new observations and analyses.

Dr. Imke de Pater
Dr. Yamila Miguel
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Remote Sensing is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Giant planets
  • Interior structure
  • Atmospheric composition
  • Global dynamics
  • Vortex dynamics
  • Solar system and exoplanets

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

19 pages, 1464 KiB  
Article
The Deep Atmospheric Composition of Jupiter from Thermochemical Calculations Based on Galileo and Juno Data
by Frank Rensen, Yamila Miguel , Mantas Zilinskas, Amy Louca, Peter Woitke, Christiane Helling and Oliver Herbort
Remote Sens. 2023, 15(3), 841; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs15030841 - 02 Feb 2023
Viewed by 2025
Abstract
The deep atmosphere of Jupiter is obscured beneath thick clouds. This causes direct observations to be difficult, and thermochemical equilibrium models fill in the observational gaps. This research uses Galileo and Juno data together with the Gibbs free energy minimization code GGchem to [...] Read more.
The deep atmosphere of Jupiter is obscured beneath thick clouds. This causes direct observations to be difficult, and thermochemical equilibrium models fill in the observational gaps. This research uses Galileo and Juno data together with the Gibbs free energy minimization code GGchem to update the gas phase and condensation equilibrium chemistry of the deep atmosphere of Jupiter down to 1000 bars. Specifically, the Galileo data provides helium abundances and, with the incorporated Juno data, we use new enrichment values for oxygen, nitrogen, carbon and sulphur. The temperature profile in Jupiter’s deep atmosphere is obtained following recent interior model calculations that fit the gravitational harmonics measured by Juno. Following this approach, we produced pressure–mixing ratio plots for H, He, C, N, O, Na, Mg, Si, P, S and K that give a complete chemical model of all species occurring to abundances down to a 1020 mixing ratio. The influence of the increased elemental abundances can be directly seen in the concentration of the dominant carriers for each element: the mixing ratio of NH3 increased by a factor of 1.55 as compared with the previous literature, N2 by 5.89, H2O by 1.78, CH4 by 2.82 and H2S by 2.69. We investigate the influence of water enrichment values observed by Juno on these models and find that no liquid water clouds form at the oxygen enrichment measured by Galileo, EH2O = 0.47, while they do form at higher water abundance as measured by Juno. We update the mixing ratios of important gas phase species, such as NH3, H2O, CO, CH4 and H2S, and find that new gas phase species, such as CN, (NaCN)2, S2O and K+, and new condensates, namely H3PO4 (s), LiCl (s), KCl (s), NaCl (s), NaF (s), MgO (s), Fe (s) and MnS (s), form in the atmosphere. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing Observations of the Giant Planets)
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46 pages, 5840 KiB  
Article
Deep Clouds on Jupiter
by Michael H. Wong, Gordon L. Bjoraker, Charles Goullaud, Andrew W. Stephens, Statia H. Luszcz-Cook, Sushil K. Atreya, Imke de Pater and Shannon T. Brown
Remote Sens. 2023, 15(3), 702; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs15030702 - 25 Jan 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2237
Abstract
Jupiter’s atmospheric water abundance is a highly important cosmochemical parameter that is linked to processes of planetary formation, weather, and circulation. Remote sensing and in situ measurement attempts still leave room for substantial improvements to our knowledge of Jupiter’s atmospheric water abundance. With [...] Read more.
Jupiter’s atmospheric water abundance is a highly important cosmochemical parameter that is linked to processes of planetary formation, weather, and circulation. Remote sensing and in situ measurement attempts still leave room for substantial improvements to our knowledge of Jupiter’s atmospheric water abundance. With the motivation to advance our understanding of water in Jupiter’s atmosphere, we investigate observations and models of deep clouds. We discuss deep clouds in isolated convective storms (including a unique storm site in the North Equatorial Belt that episodically erupted in 2021–2022), cyclonic vortices, and northern high-latitude regions, as seen in Hubble Space Telescope visible/near-infrared imaging data. We evaluate the imaging data in continuum and weak methane band (727 nm) filters by comparison with radiative transfer simulations, 5 micron imaging (Gemini), and 5 micron spectroscopy (Keck), and conclude that the weak methane band imaging approach mostly detects variation in the upper cloud and haze opacity, although sensitivity to deeper cloud layers can be exploited if upper cloud/haze opacity can be separately constrained. The cloud-base water abundance is a function of cloud-base temperature, which must be estimated by extrapolating 0.5-bar observed temperatures downward to the condensation region near 5 bar. For a given cloud base pressure, the largest source of uncertainty on the local water abundance comes from the temperature gradient used for the extrapolation. We conclude that spatially resolved spectra to determine cloud heights—collected simultaneously with spatially-resolved mid-infrared spectra to determine 500-mbar temperatures and with improved lapse rate estimates—would be needed to answer the following very challenging question: Can observations of deep water clouds on Jupiter be used to constrain the atmospheric water abundance? Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing Observations of the Giant Planets)
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26 pages, 8839 KiB  
Article
Giant Planet Observations in NASA’s Planetary Data System
by Nancy J. Chanover, James M. Bauer, John J. Blalock, Mitchell K. Gordon, Lyle F. Huber, Mia J. T. Mace, Lynn D. V. Neakrase, Matthew S. Tiscareno and Raymond J. Walker
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(23), 6112; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14236112 - 02 Dec 2022
Viewed by 1731
Abstract
While there have been far fewer missions to the outer Solar System than to the inner Solar System, spacecraft destined for the giant planets have conducted a wide range of fundamental investigations, returning data that continues to reshape our understanding of these complex [...] Read more.
While there have been far fewer missions to the outer Solar System than to the inner Solar System, spacecraft destined for the giant planets have conducted a wide range of fundamental investigations, returning data that continues to reshape our understanding of these complex systems, sometimes decades after the data were acquired. These data are preserved and accessible from national and international planetary science archives. For all NASA planetary missions and instruments the data are available from the science discipline nodes of the NASA Planetary Data System (PDS). Looking ahead, the PDS will be the primary repository for giant planets data from several upcoming missions and derived datasets, as well as supporting research conducted to aid in the interpretation of the remotely sensed giant planets data already archived in the PDS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing Observations of the Giant Planets)
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35 pages, 3552 KiB  
Article
The Spatial Variation of Water Clouds, NH3, and H2O on Jupiter Using Keck Data at 5 Microns
by Gordon L. Bjoraker, Michael H. Wong, Imke de Pater, Tilak Hewagama and Máté Ádámkovics
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(18), 4567; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14184567 - 13 Sep 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1146
Abstract
We obtained high-resolution spectra of Jupiter between 4.6 and 5.4 µm using NIRSPEC on the Keck 2 telescope in February 2017. We measured the spatial variation of NH3, H2O, and the pressure level of deep (p > 3 [...] Read more.
We obtained high-resolution spectra of Jupiter between 4.6 and 5.4 µm using NIRSPEC on the Keck 2 telescope in February 2017. We measured the spatial variation of NH3, H2O, and the pressure level of deep (p > 3 bar) clouds using two geometries. We aligned the slit north–south on Jupiter’s Central Meridian to measure the spatial variation of the gas composition and cloud structure between 66°N and 70°S. With the slit aligned east–west, we also examined the longitudinal variation at two regions of the North Equatorial Belt (NEB) at 18°N and at 8°N near the latitude of the Galileo Probe entry site. We used the integrated line absorption, also known as the equivalent width, of deuterated methane (CH3D) at 4.66 µm to derive the pressure level of deep clouds between 3 and 7 bar. From thermochemical models, these are most likely water clouds. At the location of a deep cloud revealed by HST methane-band imaging, we found spectroscopic evidence for an opaque cloud at the 5 bar level. We also identified regions on Jupiter that lacked deep clouds but exhibited evidence for upper clouds and enhanced NH3. We estimated column-averaged mole fractions of H2O and NH3 above the opaque lower boundary of the deep cloud. The meridional scan exhibited significant belt-zone structure with retrieved NH3 abundances in the 200–400 ppm range above the opaque lower cloud, except for a depletion (down to 90 ppm) in the NEB. Water in Jupiter’s belts varies from a maximum of 7 ppm at 8°S to a minimum of 1.5 ppm at 23°S. We found evidence for water clouds and enhanced NH3 and H2O in the South Equatorial Belt Outbreak region at 13°S. The NEB is a heterogeneous region with significant variation in all of these quantities. The NH3 abundance at 18°N and 8°N varies with the longitude with mole fractions between 120 and 300 ppm. The H2O abundance at these same latitudes varies with the longitude with mole fractions between 3 and 10 ppm. Our volatile mole fractions apply to the 5 to 8 bar pressure range (or to the level of an opaque cloud top where found at shallower pressure); therefore, they imply a deeper gradient continuing to increase toward higher concentrations detected by the Galileo Probe Mass Spectrometer at 11 and 20 bar. Hot Spots in the NEB exhibit minimal cloud opacity; however, they lack prominent anomalies in the concentrations of NH3 or H2O. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing Observations of the Giant Planets)
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Review

Jump to: Research

45 pages, 32249 KiB  
Review
Mid-Infrared Observations of the Giant Planets
by Michael T. Roman
Remote Sens. 2023, 15(7), 1811; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs15071811 - 28 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2558
Abstract
The mid-infrared spectral region provides a unique window into the atmospheric temperature, chemistry, and dynamics of the giant planets. From more than a century of mid-infrared remote sensing, progressively clearer pictures of the composition and thermal structure of these atmospheres have emerged, along [...] Read more.
The mid-infrared spectral region provides a unique window into the atmospheric temperature, chemistry, and dynamics of the giant planets. From more than a century of mid-infrared remote sensing, progressively clearer pictures of the composition and thermal structure of these atmospheres have emerged, along with a greater insight into the processes that shape them. Our knowledge of Jupiter and Saturn has benefitted from their proximity and relatively warm temperatures, while the details of colder and more distant Uranus and Neptune are limited as these planets remain challenging targets. As the timeline of observations continues to grow, an understanding of the temporal and seasonal variability of the giant planets is beginning to develop with promising new observations on the horizon. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing Observations of the Giant Planets)
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49 pages, 99414 KiB  
Review
A Review of Radio Observations of the Giant Planets: Probing the Composition, Structure, and Dynamics of Their Deep Atmospheres
by Imke de Pater, Edward M. Molter and Chris M. Moeckel
Remote Sens. 2023, 15(5), 1313; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs15051313 - 27 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2053
Abstract
Radio observations of the atmospheres of the giant planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune have provided invaluable constraints on atmospheric dynamics, physics/chemistry, and planet formation theories over the past 70 years. We provide a brief history of these observations, with a focus on [...] Read more.
Radio observations of the atmospheres of the giant planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune have provided invaluable constraints on atmospheric dynamics, physics/chemistry, and planet formation theories over the past 70 years. We provide a brief history of these observations, with a focus on recent and state-of-the-art studies. The global circulation patterns, as derived from these data, in combination with observations at UV/visible/near-IR wavelengths and in the thermal infrared, suggest a vertically-stacked pattern of circulation cells in the troposphere, with the top cell similar to the classical picture, overlying cells with the opposite circulation. Data on the planets’ bulk compositions are used to support or disfavor different planet formation scenarios. While heavy element enrichment in the planets favors the core accretion model, we discuss how the observed relative enrichments in volatile species constrain models of the outer proto-planetary disk and ice giant accretion. Radio observations of planets will remain invaluable in the next decades, and we close with some comments on the scientific gain promised by proposed and under-construction radio telescopes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing Observations of the Giant Planets)
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22 pages, 1983 KiB  
Review
Interior and Evolution of the Giant Planets
by Yamila Miguel and Allona Vazan
Remote Sens. 2023, 15(3), 681; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs15030681 - 23 Jan 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2258
Abstract
The giant planets were the first to form and hold the key to unveiling the solar system’s formation history in their interiors and atmospheres. Furthermore, the unique conditions present in the interiors of the giant planets make them natural laboratories for exploring different [...] Read more.
The giant planets were the first to form and hold the key to unveiling the solar system’s formation history in their interiors and atmospheres. Furthermore, the unique conditions present in the interiors of the giant planets make them natural laboratories for exploring different elements under extreme conditions. We are at a unique time to study these planets. The missions Juno to Jupiter and Cassini to Saturn have provided invaluable information to reveal their interiors like never before, including extremely accurate gravity data, atmospheric abundances and magnetic field measurements that revolutionised our knowledge of their interior structures. At the same time, new laboratory experiments and modelling efforts also improved, and statistical analysis of these planets is now possible to explore all the different conditions that shape their interiors. We review the interior structure of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, including the need for inhomogeneous structures to explain the data, the problems unsolved and the effect that advances in our understanding of their internal structure have on their formation and evolution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing Observations of the Giant Planets)
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26 pages, 21357 KiB  
Review
Hot Exoplanetary Atmospheres in 3D
by William Pluriel
Remote Sens. 2023, 15(3), 635; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs15030635 - 20 Jan 2023
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2170
Abstract
Hot giant exoplanets are very exotic objects with no equivalent in the Solar System that allow us to study the behavior of atmospheres under extreme conditions. Their thermal and chemical day–night dichotomies associated with extreme wind dynamics make them intrinsically 3D objects. Thus, [...] Read more.
Hot giant exoplanets are very exotic objects with no equivalent in the Solar System that allow us to study the behavior of atmospheres under extreme conditions. Their thermal and chemical day–night dichotomies associated with extreme wind dynamics make them intrinsically 3D objects. Thus, the common 1D assumption, relevant to study colder atmospheres, reaches its limits in order to be able to explain hot and ultra-hot atmospheres and their evolution in a consistent way. In this review, we highlight the importance of these 3D considerations and how they impact transit, eclipse and phase curve observations. We also analyze how the models must adapt in order to remain self-consistent, consistent with the observations and sufficiently accurate to avoid bias or errors. We particularly insist on the synergy between models and observations in order to be able to carry out atmospheric characterizations with data from the new generation of instruments that are currently in operation or will be in the near future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing Observations of the Giant Planets)
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41 pages, 37977 KiB  
Review
Moist Convection in the Giant Planet Atmospheres
by Csaba Palotai, Shawn Brueshaber, Ramanakumar Sankar and Kunio Sayanagi
Remote Sens. 2023, 15(1), 219; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs15010219 - 30 Dec 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1732
Abstract
The outer planets of our Solar System display a myriad of interesting cloud features, of different colors and sizes. The differences between the types of observed clouds suggest a complex interplay between the dynamics and chemistry at play in these atmospheres. Particularly, the [...] Read more.
The outer planets of our Solar System display a myriad of interesting cloud features, of different colors and sizes. The differences between the types of observed clouds suggest a complex interplay between the dynamics and chemistry at play in these atmospheres. Particularly, the stark difference between the banded structures of Jupiter and Saturn vs. the sporadic clouds on the ice giants highlights the varieties in dynamic, chemical and thermal processes that shape these atmospheres. Since the early explorations of these planets by spacecrafts, such as Voyager and Voyager 2, there are many outstanding questions about the long-term stability of the observed features. One hypothesis is that the internal heat generated during the formation of these planets is transported to the upper atmosphere through latent heat release from convecting clouds (i.e., moist convection). In this review, we present evidence of moist convective activity in the gas giant atmospheres of our Solar System from remote sensing data, both from ground- and space-based observations. We detail the processes that drive moist convective activity, both in terms of the dynamics as well as the microphysical processes that shape the resulting clouds. Finally, we also discuss the effects of moist convection on shaping the large-scale dynamics (such as jet structures on these planets). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing Observations of the Giant Planets)
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24 pages, 13944 KiB  
Review
What the Upper Atmospheres of Giant Planets Reveal
by James O’Donoghue and Tom Stallard
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(24), 6326; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14246326 - 14 Dec 2022
Viewed by 1595
Abstract
The upper atmospheres of the Giant Planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are transition regions between meteorological layers and outer space. As a result of their exceptionally rarefied nature, they are highly sensitive and therefore revealing probes of the forcing exerted both from [...] Read more.
The upper atmospheres of the Giant Planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are transition regions between meteorological layers and outer space. As a result of their exceptionally rarefied nature, they are highly sensitive and therefore revealing probes of the forcing exerted both from above and below. This review provides an overview of these upper atmospheres and the major processes that take place within them, including their powerful auroras, the giant planet ‘energy crisis’ and the decay of Saturn’s rings into the planet. We discuss the many remote-sensing tools that have been used to understand them, for example, large ground-based observatories such as the Keck telescope, space-based observatories such as the Hubble Space Telescope and orbiters such as the Cassini spacecraft. Looking into the future, we discuss the possibilities afforded by the latest and next generation of observatories and space missions, such as the James Webb Space Telescope. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing Observations of the Giant Planets)
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28 pages, 24789 KiB  
Review
Giant Planet Atmospheres: Dynamics and Variability from UV to Near-IR Hubble and Adaptive Optics Imaging
by Amy A. Simon, Michael H. Wong, Lawrence A. Sromovsky, Leigh N. Fletcher and Patrick M. Fry
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(6), 1518; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14061518 - 21 Mar 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 4826
Abstract
Each of the giant planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, has been observed by at least one robotic spacecraft mission. However, these missions are infrequent; Uranus and Neptune have only had a single flyby by Voyager 2. The Hubble Space Telescope, particularly the [...] Read more.
Each of the giant planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, has been observed by at least one robotic spacecraft mission. However, these missions are infrequent; Uranus and Neptune have only had a single flyby by Voyager 2. The Hubble Space Telescope, particularly the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) instruments, and large ground-based telescopes with adaptive optics systems have enabled high-spatial-resolution imaging at a higher cadence, and over a longer time, than can be achieved with targeted missions to these worlds. These facilities offer a powerful combination of high spatial resolution, often <0.05”, and broad wavelength coverage, from the ultraviolet through the near infrared, resulting in compelling studies of the clouds, winds, and atmospheric vertical structure. This coverage allows comparisons of atmospheric properties between the planets, as well as in different regions across each planet. Temporal variations in winds, cloud structure, and color over timescales of days to years have been measured for all four planets. With several decades of data already obtained, we can now begin to investigate seasonal influences on dynamics and aerosol properties, despite orbital periods ranging from 12 to 165 years. Future facilities will enable even greater spatial resolution and, combined with our existing long record of data, will continue to advance our understanding of atmospheric evolution on the giant planets. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing Observations of the Giant Planets)
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