Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unexpected Cooling Effect In Saturn's Upper Atmosphere

Date:
January 26, 2007
Source:
Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council
Summary:
UK researchers from University College London (UCL), along with colleagues from Boston University, have found that the hotter than expected temperature of Saturn's upper atmosphere -- and that of the other giant planets -- is not due to the same mechanism that heats the atmosphere around the Earth's Northern Lights. Reporting in Nature (Jan. 25) the researchers findings thus rule out a long-held theory.

UK researchers from University College London (UCL), along with colleagues from Boston University, have found that the hotter than expected temperature of Saturn's upper atmosphere -- and that of the other giant planets -- is not due to the same mechanism that heats the atmosphere around the Earth's Northern Lights. Reporting in Nature (25th January) the researchers findings thus rule out a long held theory.

A simple calculation to give the expected temperature of a planet's upper atmosphere balances the amount of sunlight absorbed by the energy lost to the lower atmosphere. But the calculated values don't tally with the actual observations of the Gas Giants: they are consistently much hotter.

It has long been thought that the culprit behind the heating process was the ionosphere, being driven by the planet's magnetic field, or magnetosphere. By using numerical models of Saturn's atmosphere the researchers found that the net effects of the winds driven by polar energy inputs is not to heat the atmosphere but to actually cool it.

Professor Alan Aylward, of the UCL Department of Physics & Astronomy, and an author of the study, explains: "The aurora has been studied for over a hundred years, yet our discovery takes us back to first principles. We need to re-examine our basic assumptions about planetary atmospheres and what causes the observed heating."

"Studying what happens on planets such as Saturn gives us an insight into what happens closer to home. Planets can lose their atmospheres as we see with Mars. Do we completely understand how this happens? Are there mechanisms heating the gas and causing it to escape that we do not yet fully understand? By studying what happens in other atmospheres we may find clues to Earth's future."

The study was funded by the UK Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) and Sun Microsystems Ltd and carried out using the HiPerSPACE facility at University College London.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council. "Unexpected Cooling Effect In Saturn's Upper Atmosphere." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 January 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070125110611.htm>.
Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council. (2007, January 26). Unexpected Cooling Effect In Saturn's Upper Atmosphere. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070125110611.htm
Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council. "Unexpected Cooling Effect In Saturn's Upper Atmosphere." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070125110611.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 22, 2014) — Russian cosmonauts Maxim Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev step outside the International Space Station to perform work on the exterior of the station's Russian module. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) — Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

NASA (Oct. 17, 2014) — Power spacewalk, MAVEN’s “First Light”, Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins