Program: GS-2011A-Q-11

Title:The Spectacular Revival of Jupiter's South Equatorial Belt: Temperature and Haze Characteristics
PI:Glenn Orton
Co-I(s): Leigh Fletcher, Michelle Edwards


Between 2008 and 2010, Jupiter's typically dark South Equatorial Belt (SEB) begin a dramatic upheaval, fading to a white zone-like appearance over a matter of months. Thermal imaging has revealed the temperature and cloud variability associated with this transition, and we propose to continue our characterisation of the SEB life cycle by triggering ToO observations in response to a revival of the typical appearance. The revival is expected to begin as a localised disturbance that gradually spreads dark coloration around the whole planet, but the uncertain mechanisms underlying this disturbance makes it impossible to predict when the revival will begin. However, temperatures, cloud opacities and gaseous tracers retrieved from T-ReCS imaging and spectroscopy will allow us to distinguish between competing theories for the dramatic life cycle of the SEB. The same imaging and spectroscopy could also be triggered characterize other rapid changes in the atmosphere. One of these would be to determine the influence of impactors that are detected either by unusual atmospheric features (as on 2009 July 19) or detection of atmospheric bolides (as on 2010 June 3). Such characterizations bound the size range of the impactor, helping to reveal the populations of sub-kilometer sized bodies in Jupiter-crossing orbits.

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