24/7 Space News
OUTER PLANETS
Jupiter was targeted by exoplanet hunter
With ESPRESSO, the team was able to measure winds on Jupiter from 60 to 428 km/h with an uncertainty of less than 36 km/h. These observations, applied with a high-resolution instrument to a gaseous planet, have their challenges: "One of the difficulties centered on 'navigation' over Jupiter's disk, that is, knowing exactly which point on the planet's disk we were pointing to, due to the enormous resolution of the VLT telescope", explains Pedro Machado.
ADVERTISEMENT
     
Jupiter was targeted by exoplanet hunter
by Staff Writers
Lisbon, Portugal (SPX) Dec 27, 2023

For the first time, an instrument to find planets light years away was used on an object in the Solar System, in a study on Jupiter's winds. We find ourselves at a time when it has become almost commonplace to discover planets orbiting another star, with more than 5,000 already registered. The first distant worlds to incorporate this list were mainly giant planets, similar to but also very different in many ways from Jupiter and Saturn.

Astrophysicists have already begun to obtain data on the atmospheres of exoplanets, but fundamental questions about the atmosphere of the largest planet in the Solar System are yet to be answered. To understand what happens in Jupiter's clouds and air layers, it is necessary to study it over time, in continuous observations. Now, for the first time, an instrument developed to find and analyze worlds light years away, exoplanets, has been pointed at a target in the Solar System, 43 light minutes away from Earth: the planet Jupiter.

Researchers from the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences (IA), at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon (Portugal) (Ciencias ULisboa), used the ESPRESSO spectrograph installed on the VLT telescope at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) to measure wind speeds on Jupiter. The results are now published in the scientific journal Universe.

The method that the team developed is called Doppler velocimetry and is based on the reflection of visible light from the Sun by clouds in the target planet's atmosphere. This reflected light is bent in wavelength in proportion to the speed at which the clouds are moving relative to the telescope on Earth. This gives the instantaneous wind speed at the observed point.

The method now used with ESPRESSO was developed by the Planetary Systems research group of IA, with other spectrographs, to study the atmosphere of Venus. The researchers have been measuring the winds of this neighboring planet and have been contributing to the modelling of its general atmosphere for several years. Now, the exploratory application of this method with a "top of the range" instrument such as ESPRESSO has resulted in a success that opens new horizons to the knowledge of our cosmic neighborhood. This work affirms the feasibility of systematically monitoring the most distant atmospheres on gaseous planets.

For five hours, in July 2019, the team pointed the VLT telescope at the equatorial zone of Jupiter, where light clouds are located at a higher altitude, and at the north and south equatorial belts of this planet, which correspond to descending air and which it forms bands of dark, warmer clouds in a deeper layer of the atmosphere.

"Jupiter's atmosphere, at the level of the clouds visible from Earth, contains ammonia, ammonium hydrosulfide and water, which form the distinct red and white bands", says Pedro Machado, from IA and Ciencias ULisboa, "The upper clouds, located in the pressure zone of 0.6 to 0.9 bars, are made of ammonia ice. Water clouds form the densest, lowest layer, and have the strongest influence on the dynamics of the atmosphere", adds the researcher.

With ESPRESSO, the team was able to measure winds on Jupiter from 60 to 428 km/h with an uncertainty of less than 36 km/h. These observations, applied with a high-resolution instrument to a gaseous planet, have their challenges: "One of the difficulties centered on 'navigation' over Jupiter's disk, that is, knowing exactly which point on the planet's disk we were pointing to, due to the enormous resolution of the VLT telescope", explains Pedro Machado.

"In the research itself, the difficulty was related to the fact that we were determining winds with an accuracy of a few meters per second when Jupiter's rotation is on the order of ten kilometers per second at the equator and, to complicate matters, because it is a gaseous planet, and not a rigid body, it rotates at different speeds depending on the latitude of the point we observe", adds the researcher.

To verify the effectiveness of Doppler velocimetry from telescopes on Earth in measuring winds on Jupiter, the team also gathered measurements obtained in the past in order to compare the results. Most of the existing data was collected by instruments in space and used a different method, which consists of obtaining average values of wind speed by following cloud patterns in images captured at nearby times.

The consistency between this history and the values measured in the study now published confirms the feasibility of implementing Doppler velocimetry in a program for monitoring Jupiter's winds from Earth.

The monitoring will allow the research team to collect data on how winds change over time and will be essential for developing a reliable model for the global circulation of Jupiter's atmosphere. This computational model should reproduce the differences in winds depending on latitude, as well as Jupiter's storms, to help understand the causes of the atmospheric phenomena we observe on this planet. Conversely, the model will help prepare future observations with information about the pressure and altitude of the clouds in telescope's sights.

The team intends to extend observations with ESPRESSO to a greater coverage of planet Jupiter's disk, as well as temporally, collecting wind data throughout the planet's entire rotation period, which is almost 10 hours. Restricting observations to certain ranges of wavelengths will also make it possible to measure winds at different altitudes, thus obtaining information on the vertical transport of air layers.

Once the technique has been mastered for the largest planet in the Solar System, the team hopes to apply it to the atmospheres of other gaseous planets, with Saturn as the next target. The success of these observations with ESPRESSO proves to be important at a time when its successor, ANDES, is being designed for the future Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), also from ESO and currently under construction in Chile, but also the future JUICE mission, from the European Space Agency, dedicated to Jupiter and which will provide additional data.

Research Report:Jupiter's Atmosphere Dynamics Based on High-Resolution Spectroscopy with VLT/ESPRESSO

Related Links
Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences
The million outer planets of a star called Sol

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

RELATED CONTENT
The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
OUTER PLANETS
Juice burns hard towards first-ever Earth-Moon flyby
Paris (ESA) Nov 17, 2023
ESA's Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) launched from Europe's spaceport in French Guiana on 14 April 2023. It's on a mission to make detailed observations of the giant gas planet and its three large, ocean-bearing moons - Ganymede, Callisto and Europa. But Juice won't begin its investigations into the nature and possible habitability of the Jupiter system until its arrival in 2031. Why does it take so long to get to Jupiter? Well, the short answer is that its less to do with the dist ... read more

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
OUTER PLANETS
From the Moon's south pole to an ice-covered ocean world 2024 will be a major year in space

Major Milestones Achieved Through the ISS National Lab in 2023

Designing the 'perfect' meal to feed long-term space travelers

Russia, NASA agree to continue joint ISS flights until 2025

OUTER PLANETS
InRange to enhance global launches with Viasat and Safran partnership

SpaceX successfully launches two rockets hours apart

ESA and IENAI Space unveil innovative electrospray propulsion for small satellites

SpaceX Falcon Heavy Successfully Launches USSF-52 Mission

OUTER PLANETS
NASA's Curiosity Rover Captures a Martian Day, From Dawn to Dusk

Sols 4045-4055: This Plan is STUFFED

Sols 4056-4058 Blog: "Ringing" in a New Year

Recent volcanism on Mars reveals a planet more active than previously thought

OUTER PLANETS
Shenzhou XVII crew conducts 1st spacewalk

Shenzhou XVII astronauts set for their first spacewalk

China's commercial space sector achieves milestones with series of successful launches

China's space programme: Five things to know

OUTER PLANETS
Ovzon 3 Satellite Launched Aboard SpaceX's Veteran Falcon 9 to Geosynchronous Orbit

Terran Orbital Reports Key Payment from Rivada and Strong Year-End Cash Position

First Batch of Starlink Satellites for Direct-to-Cell Service Launched by SpaceX

AST SpaceMobile nears funding milestone for cellular broadband in space

OUTER PLANETS
GESTRA space radar successfully enters final test phase

Above: Space revolutionary micro-g platform set for 2024 mission

Shining a light on NASA's deep space laser communication test

L-SAR 01 Satellite Group Begins Operations, Enhancing China's Disaster Response

OUTER PLANETS
A carbon-lite atmosphere could be a sign of water and life on other terrestrial planets

Is oxygen the cosmic key to alien technology?

Scientists discover new way to identify liquid water on exoplanets

Astrophysicists publish Kepler Giant Planet Search, an aid to 'figure out where to find life'

OUTER PLANETS
NASA's Juno spacecraft prepares for Jupiter moon Io close flyby

Jupiter was targeted by exoplanet hunter

The PI's Perspective: The Long Game

Webb rings in the holidays with the ringed planet Uranus

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters


ADVERTISEMENT



The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2023 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.