Planetary Atmospheres

One of the unanswered scientific questions is how the Earth, and more generally the solar system, has formed. To answer this question, we need to understand and study the Earth but also the other planets of the solar system. Recently ISAC, thanks to its competences in the study of the Earth’s atmosphere, has been involved in the study of Titan and Jupiter atmospheres. Titan is one of the moons of Saturn and its study is important because it has an atmosphere very similar to what it is thought the primordial Earth atmosphere looked like. Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system and understanding its structure and composition may add a very important tile in the puzzle of the solar system formation theory. ISAC was and is part of the teams that study the measurements acquired by the VIMS instrument, that was on board the Cassini explorer orbiting around Saturn, and of the JIRAM instrument, on board the NASA explorer Juno which is currently acquiring data of Jupiter and its moons. Among the most important results obtained by ISAC researchers are the identification of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Titan’s mesosphere, the observation of anomalous cyclons at Jupiter poles and the observation of Jupiter’s aurorae with unprecedented details. Juno will continue to measure Jupiter for more years to come. ISAC will be involved in the analysis of the data acquired by the JIRAM instrument and in the development of circulation models to understand the origin of the polar cyclons of Jupiter.