Tuesday, January 10, 2023
Ice Giant Systems Seminar Series: Dr. Mark Hofstadter
Presenter: Dr. Mark Hofstadter (JPL/Caltech)
Topic: The Deep Atmosphere of Uranus: Clues and Mysteries from Ground-Based Radio Observations
Abstract: The deep troposphere of Uranus is, not surprisingly, of great interest to those who want to understand giant planet atmospheric circulation and chemistry. It is, however, also important to those interested in the formation and evolution of giant planets, as the atmosphere is the only directly observable interface to the deep interior. Ground-based radio observations are our current window into this region, probing pressures from roughly 1 to 100 bars. I will first discuss some of the mysteries seen, which are not explained by atmospheric models. These include extremely large differences in composition and/or temperature between high and low latitudes, zonal banding that does not seem correlated with the cloud-top winds, and vertical variations not explained by equilibrium chemistry. Some of these features are time variable, and others are reminiscent of what has been seen at Jupiter by the Juno spacecraft. I will conclude with thoughts on how a future Uranus orbiter could help us understand this intriguing region of Uranus.