IRTF Data Archive Program Information

# # Program information file # PROGRAM_ID 2023B014 PROGRAM_TITLE 'The heat is on': are Jupiter's aurorae warming the rest of the planet? PROGRAM_INV1 Katie Knowles PROGRAM_INV2 Tom Stallard PROGRAM_INV3 Luke Moore PROGRAM_INV4 James O'Donoghue PROGRAM_INV5 Henrik Melin PROGRAM_SCICAT major planets / satellites PROGRAM_ABSTRACT_BEG For decades, the unexpectedly hot temperatures of the upper atmospheres of the Giant Planets have remained perpetually unresolved, an issue described as the 'energy crisis'. At Jupiter, processes that couple the magnetosphere to the atmosphere generate powerful auroral emissions, which feed vast amounts of energy about the magnetic poles and has been presumed to heat the rest of the planet. Many global circulation models oppose this hypothesis as they have demonstrated that auroral heat cannot be effectively transported equatorward at the Gas Giants [Jupiter and Saturn]. However, recent observations by the Keck telescope have suggested that Jupiter's enhanced equatorial temperatures are induced by the redistribution of polar energy due to significant auroral variability, driven by solar wind compressions. Emission from H3+ in the near-infrared provides an incredibly valuable tool for probing the physical conditions of the tenuous upper atmospheres of the Giant Plants. We propose to observe Jupiter's polar and equatorial regions over a solar day [30 days], in order to provide the first view of how Jupiter's ionosphere is modulated by the solar wind. This observation, uniquely possible using IRTF's iSHELL, will allow us to produce 16 scans of H3+ brightness and temperature of Jupiter's upper atmosphere during periods of variable solar wind driving, and investigate the evolution of this dissipation of auroral energy. We also intend to elucidate Jupiter's poorly understood mid-to-low latitude ionosphere. If successful, we can correlate our observations to in-situ measurements acquired by NASA's Juno spacecraft, and potentially infrared mappings by the James Webb Space Telescope, thus providing ground-based support for their findings. Only through this extended view of Jupiter can we ascertain the extent to which dynamic auroral activity, driven by solar wind variability, heats Jupiter's thermospheric equator - the potential solution to the long-standing 'energy crisis' at the Gas Giants. PROGRAM_ABSTRACT_END