University of Leicester
1-s2.0-S0019103516302834-main.pdf (11.48 MB)

Mid-Infrared Mapping of Jupiter's Temperatures, Aerosol Opacity and Chemical Distributions with IRTF/TEXES

Download (11.48 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 2016-06-14, 09:03 authored by Leigh N. Fletcher, T. K. Greathouse, G. S. Orton, J. A. Sinclair, R. S. Giles, P. G. J. Irwin, T. Encrenaz
Global maps of Jupiter’s atmospheric temperatures, gaseous composition and aerosol opacity are derived from a programme of 5–20 µm mid-infrared spectroscopic observations using the Texas Echelon Cross Echelle Spectrograph (TEXES) on NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF). Image cubes from December 2014 in eight spectral channels, with spectral resolutions of R ∼2000−12,000−12,000 and spatial resolutions of 2–4° latitude, are inverted to generate 3D maps of tropospheric and stratospheric temperatures, 2D maps of upper tropospheric aerosols, phosphine and ammonia, and 2D maps of stratospheric ethane and acetylene. The results are compared to a re-analysis of Cassini Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) observations acquired during Cassini’s closest approach to Jupiter in December 2000, demonstrating that this new archive of ground-based mapping spectroscopy can match and surpass the quality of previous investigations, and will permit future studies of Jupiter’s evolving atmosphere. The visibility of cool zones and warm belts varies from channel to channel, suggesting complex vertical variations from the radiatively-controlled upper troposphere to the convective mid-troposphere. We identify mid-infrared signatures of Jupiter’s 5-µm hotspots via simultaneous M, N and Q-band observations, which are interpreted as temperature and ammonia variations in the northern Equatorial Zone and on the edge of the North Equatorial Belt (NEB). Equatorial plumes enriched in NH3 gas are located south-east of NH3-desiccated ‘hotspots’ on the edge of the NEB. Comparison of the hotspot locations in several channels across the 5–20 µm range indicate that these anomalous regions tilt westward with altitude. Aerosols and PH3 are both enriched at the equator but are not co-located with the NH3 plumes. The equatorial temperature minimum and PH3/aerosol maxima have varied in amplitude over time, possibly as a result of periodic equatorial brightenings and the fresh updrafts of disequilibrium material. Temperate mid-latitudes display a correlation between mid-IR aerosol opacity and the white albedo features in visible light (i.e., zones). We find hemispheric asymmetries in the distribution of tropospheric PH3, stratospheric hydrocarbons and the 2D wind field (estimated via the thermal-wind equation) that suggest a differing efficiency of mechanical forcing (e.g., vertical mixing and wave propagation) between the two hemispheres that we argue is driven by dynamics rather than Jupiter’s small seasonal cycle. Jupiter’s stratosphere is notably warmer at northern mid-latitudes than in the south in both 2000 and 2014, although the latter can be largely attributed to strong thermal wave activity near 30°N that dominates the 2014 stratospheric maps and may be responsible for elevated C2H2 in the northern hemisphere. A vertically-variable pattern of temperature and windshear minima and maxima associated with Jupiter’s Quasi Quadrennial Oscillation (QQO) is observed at the equator in both datasets, although the contrasts were more subdued in 2014. Large-scale equator-to-pole gradients in ethane and acetylene are superimposed on top of the mid-latitude mechanically-driven maxima, with C2H2 decreasing from equator to pole and C2H6 showing a polar enhancement, consistent with a radiatively-controlled circulation from low to high latitudes. Cold polar vortices beyond ∼60° latitude can be identified in the upper tropospheric and lower stratospheric temperature maps, suggesting enhanced radiative cooling from polar aerosols. Finally, compositional mapping of the Great Red Spot confirms the local enhancements in PH3 and aerosols, the north–south asymmetry in NH3 gas and the presence of a warm southern periphery that have been noted by previous authors.



Icarus, 2016, 278, pp. 128-161

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Physics and Astronomy


  • VoR (Version of Record)

Published in



Elsevier for Academic Press



Acceptance date


Copyright date


Available date


Publisher version



Usage metrics

    University of Leicester Publications


    No categories selected




    Ref. manager