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Jupiter, Saturn can tell a lot about Earth's past, future atmospheric conditions

Jupiter, Saturn can tell a lot about Earth's past, future atmospheric conditions

What can the climates of other planets tell us about the Earth s weather The motion of the planets and their study takes us back to the time of Kepler and Galileo. An expert from the University of Houston has said that Jupiter and Saturn s climate data can give us an insight to Earth s past and future atmospheric conditions.

Liming Li, an assistant professor of physics in the UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, is leading a team of scientists from NASA s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Wisconsin-Madison to analyze data collected by instruments on board the Cassini spacecraft, which is on a mission to explore Saturn s systems. Currently, the spacecraft is on a mission to explore Saturn's systems.

With 12 data-gathering instruments aboard Cassini, scientists have access to an unprecedented amount of data. The primary mission, scheduled to end in 2008, was so successful that NASA extended it several times. It is now slated to end in late 2017.

Earlier, armed with the thus created new ephemeris (the planetary time-table), two Columbia University retired professors of geology, John Sanders and Rhodes W. Fairbridge, were able to prepare a planetary framework for the explanation of terrestrial climate. It was presented in a volume entitled Climate: History, Periodicity, and Predictability, edited by Michael R. Rampino (New York: Van Nostrand, 1987).

The research team will be calculating the energy budget for Jupiter, Saturn and Saturn's moon Titan, because it will impact our understanding of planetary evolution and climate.

The Saturn year is roughly 30 Earth years, so you need long-term observations to learn about the seasons. Fortunately, Cassini is a long-term mission, gathering data for more than 10 years, Li said. Every year, every day, we are getting beautiful data from the spacecraft. For the first time, we will be able to learn about the seasonal changes of Saturn.

On Earth, Li said the incoming energy is approximately equal to the outgoing energy. The temperature does not dramatically change, even with the effects of greenhouse gases.

On the other hand, Saturn and Jupiter emit more energy than the energy they absorb, thus generating internal heat. Titan and Earth are similar, Li said, because they do not have significant internal heat.

Fortunately, Cassini is a long-term mission, gathering data for more than 10 years, said Li. Every year, every day, we are getting beautiful data from the spacecraft.

Of the 12 instruments aboard Cassini, Li s group is analyzing data from three of them.

The Composite Infrared Spectrometer provides information about the chemical component of the planet s spectrum. From this data, they can determine the temperature.

With Cassini s Imaging Science Subsystem, the researchers have access to images of the planet at different visible wavelengths. The system s two cameras provide a narrow-angle, high-resolution view of a fixed area and a wide-angle, low-resolution image of larger areas. The wide-angle images help them identify interesting areas that can be studied using the higher-resolution images.

Jupiter, Saturn can tell a lot about Earth's past, future atmospheric conditions