Summary of work
Focus of my scientific work is the study of atmospheres throughout the solar system. Specifically, my work investigates the response of atmospheres to external (solar, magnetospheric) energy deposition, internal redistribution of energy and material, including chemical processes and all aspects of neutral-plasma interaction and electromagnetic coupling processes.
A particular emphasis is placed on comparative studies, whereby a solar system body (planet, moon) is not considered in isolation but compared to and contrasted with other objects. Effectively, I thereby examine the same systems of highly coupled physical processes and regimes under a vast range of boundary conditions. The diversity and broad span of my work is the very nature of my research. Therefore, my work has a universal quality, covering most planets/moons in the solar system with atmospheres.
Uniquely, I work with many national and international collaborators on highly diverse projects, from atmospheric sciences (Titan) to atmosphere-magnetosphere coupling (Saturn, Jupiter) to ocean flow and electromagnetic induction modeling (Ganymede, Europa).
My work uses a combination of (primarily) numerical modelling and analysis of spacecraft data. I have developed sophisticated 1-D to 3-D (global) models of planetary/moon atmospheres, several of which are unique world-wide. Through my formal leadership roles in ongoing and forthcoming ESA and NASA space missions I shape mission planning and have direct access to data.
Recent and ongoing projects
- Atmospheres of Saturn and Jupiter. Coupling between Saturn’s upper atmosphere and its surrounding magnetosphere and solar wind as well as atmospheric electrodynamics. The work, a combination of global simulations and spacecraft and Earth based observations, contrasts Saturn with Jupiter and Earth.
- Titan’s atmosphere. This work consists of simulations and analysis of observation by Cassini’s Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer instrument. I developed and use the first and only published Titan upper atmosphere 3-D model.
- The atmospheres of Venus and Mars. I led the Atmospheric Drag Experiment onboard ESA’s Venus Express mission. My work focuses on understanding the outer regions of Venus’ and Mars’ atmospheres and the effects of solar radiation on their energy balance, composition and winds.
- The upper atmosphere (mesosphere, thermosphere, ionosphere) of Earth and how it is influenced by solar events (including Coronal Mass Ejections), known as “space weather”, whereby we try to predict the hazards posed by solar eruptions to our technological world (GPS, satellites, radio-communication, etc.).
- Internal oceans of Ganymede and Europa: examine the detectability of internal oceans of Ganymede and Europa. I investigate and characterise the electro-magnetic signatures induced by their internal oceans, thereby predicting the signatures that may be remotely detected by the forthcoming JUICE mission. Remote identification of internal oceans on these moons has important implications on the possible occurrence of extraterrestrial life on these bodies.