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ATMOSPHERIC STRUCTURE OF THE OUTER PLANETS FROM THERMAL EMISSION DATA

  • Glenn S. Orton (a1)

Abstract

Determination of atmospheric temperature structure is of paramount importance to the understanding of planetary atmospheric structure. The most powerful methods for determining atmospheric structure exploit the opacities provided by the collision induced H2 dipole and the ν4 fundamental of CH4. In addition to earth-based observations, useful measurements of thermal emission from Jupiter and Saturn have been or soon will be made by several spacecraft, with results cross-checked with independent radio occultation results. For Uranus and Neptune, only a limited set of whole-disk earth-based data exists. All the outer planets show evidence for stratospheric temperature inversions; temperature minima range from about 105 K for Jupiter and 87 K for Saturn, to roughly 55 K for Uranus and Neptune. In addition to better data, remaining problems may be resolved by better quantitative understanding of gas and aerosol absorption and scattering properties, chemical composition, and non-LTE source functions. Ultimately, temperature structure results must be supplemented by quantitative energy equilibrium models which will allow some meaning to be given to the relationships between such characteristics as temperature, clouds, incident solar and planetary radiation, and chemical composition.

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Copyright

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