117 results found
The discovery of almost two thousand exoplanets has revealed an unexpectedlydiverse planet population. We see gas giants in few-day orbits, whole multi-planet systemswithin the orbit of Mercury, and new populations of planets with masses between that of theEarth and Neptune—all unknown in the Solar System. Observations to date have shown thatour Solar System is certainly not representative of the general population of planets in ourMilky Way. The key science questions that urgently need addressing are therefore: What areexoplanets made of? Why are planets as they are? How do planetary systems work and whatcauses the exceptional diversity observed as compared to the Solar System? The EChO(Exoplanet Characterisation Observatory) space mission was conceived to take up thechallenge to explain this diversity in terms of formation, evolution, internal structure andplanet and atmospheric composition. This requires in-depth spectroscopic knowledge of theatmospheres of a large and well-defined planet sample for which precise physical, chemicaland dynamical information can be obtained. In order to fulfil this ambitious scientificprogram, EChO was designed as a dedicated survey mission for transit and eclipsespectroscopy capable of observing a large, diverse and well-defined planet sample withinits 4-year mission lifetime. The transit and eclipse spectroscopy method, whereby the signalfrom the star and planet are differentiated using knowledge of the planetary ephemerides,allows us to measure atmospheric signals from the planet at levels of at least 10−4 relative tothe star. This can only be achieved in conjunction with a carefully designed stable payloadand satellite platform. It is also necessary to provide broad instantaneous wavelengthcoverage to detect as many molecular species as possible, to probe the thermal structureof the planetary atmospheres and to correct for the contaminating effects of the stellarphotosphere. This requires wavelength coverage of at l
Fuselier SA, Altwegg K, Balsiger H, et al., 2015, ROSINA/DFMS and IES observations of 67P: Ion-neutral chemistry in the coma of a weakly outgassing comet, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Vol: 583, ISSN: 1432-0746
Context. The Rosetta encounter with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko provides a unique opportunity for an in situ, up-closeinvestigation of ion-neutral chemistry in the coma of a weakly outgassing comet far from the Sun.Aims. Observations of primary and secondary ions and modeling are used to investigate the role of ion-neutral chemistry within thethin coma.Methods. Observations from late October through mid-December 2014 show the continuous presence of the solar wind 30 km fromthe comet nucleus. These and other observations indicate that there is no contact surface and the solar wind has direct access tothe nucleus. On several occasions during this time period, the Rosetta/ROSINA/Double Focusing Mass Spectrometer measured thelow-energy ion composition in the coma. Organic volatiles and water group ions and their breakup products (masses 14 through 19),CO+, and CO+2(masses 28 and 44) and other mass peaks (at masses 26, 27, and possibly 30) were observed. Secondary ions includeH3O+and HCO+(masses 19 and 29). These secondary ions indicate ion-neutral chemistry in the thin coma of the comet. A relativelysimple model is constructed to account for the low H3O+/H2O+and HCO+/CO+ratios observed in a water dominated coma. Resultsfrom this simple model are compared with results from models that include a more detailed chemical reaction network.Results. At low outgassing rates, predictions from the simple model agree with observations and with results from more complex modelsthat include much more chemistry. At higher outgassing rates, the ion-neutral chemistry is still limited and high HCO+/CO+ratiosare predicted and observed. However, at higher outgassing rates, the model predicts high H3O+/H2O+ratios and the observed ratiosare often low. These low ratios may be the result of the highly heterogeneous nature of the coma, where CO and CO2 number densitiescan exceed that of water.
Vigren E, Galand M, Eriksson AI, et al., 2015, ON THE ELECTRON-TO-NEUTRAL NUMBER DENSITY RATIO IN THE COMA OF COMET 67P/CHURYUMOV-GERASIMENKO: GUIDING EXPRESSION AND SOURCES FOR DEVIATIONS, ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL, Vol: 812, ISSN: 0004-637X
We present a detailed model for the vibrational population of all non pre-dissociating excited electronic states of N2, as well as for the ground and ionic states, in Titan’s atmosphere. Our model includes the detailed energy deposition calculations presented in the past (Lavvas, P. et al. . Icarus 213(1), 233–251) as well as the more recent developments in the high resolution N2 photo-absorption cross sections that allow us to calculate photo-excitation rates for different vibrational levels of singlet nitrogen states, and provide information for their pre-dissociation yields. In addition, we consider the effect of collisions and chemical reactions in the population of the different states. Our results demonstrate that above 600 km altitude, collisional processes are efficient only for a small sub-set of the excited states limited to the A and W(ν = 0) triplet states, and to a smaller degree to the a′ singlet state. In addition, we find that a significant population of vibrationally excited ground state N2 survives in Titan’s upper atmosphere. Our calculations demonstrate that this hot N2 population can improve the agreement between models and observations for the emission of the View the MathML source state that is significantly affected by resonant scattering. Moreover we discuss the potential implications of the vibrationally excited population on the ionospheric densities.
Sagnieres LBM, Galand MIF, Cui J, et al., 2015, Influence of local ionization on ionospheric densities in Titan’s upper atmosphere, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 120, Pages: 5899-5921, ISSN: 2169-9402
Titan has the most chemically complex ionosphere of the Solar System. The main sources of ions on the dayside are ionization by EUV solar radiation and on the nightside include ionization by precipitated electrons from Saturn's magnetosphere and transport of ions from the dayside, but many questions remain open. How well do models predict local ionization rates? How strongly do the ionization processes drive the ionospheric densities locally? To address these questions, we have carried out an analysis of ion densities from the Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) from 16 close flybys of Titan's upper atmosphere. Using a simple chemical model applied to the INMS dataset, we have calculated the ion production rates and local ionization frequencies associated with primary ions inline image and inline image. We find that on the dayside the solar energy deposition model overestimates the INMS-derived inline image production rates by a factor of 2. On the nightside, however, the model driven by suprathermal electron intensities from the Cassini Plasma Spectrometer (CAPS) Electron Spectrometer (ELS) sometimes agrees, other times underestimates the INMS-derived inline image production rates by a factor of up to 2-3. We find that below 1200 km, all ion number densities correlate with the local ionization frequency, although the correlation is significantly stronger for short-lived ions than long-lived ions. Furthermore, we find that for a given N2 local ionization frequency inline image has higher densities on the day-side than on the nightside. We explain that this is due to inline image being more efficiently ionized by solar photons than by magnetospheric electrons for a given amount of N2 ionization.
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