Cassini-VIMS at Jupiter: Solar occultation measurements using Io

V. Formisano, E. D'Aversa, G. Bellucci, K. H. Baines, J. P. Bibring, R. H. Brown, B. J. Buratti, F. Capaccioni, P. Cerroni, R. N. Clark, A. Coradini, D. P. Cruikshank, P. Drossart, R. Jaumann, Y. Langevin, D. L. Matson, T. B. McCord, V. Mennella, R. M. Nelson, P. D. NicholsonB. Sicardy, C. Sotin, M. C. Chamberlain, G. Hansen, K. Hibbits, M. Showalter, G. Filacchione

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

We report unusual and somewhat unexpected observations of the jovian satellite Io, showing strong methane absorption bands. These observations were made by the Cassini VIMS experiment during the Jupiter flyby of December/January 2000/2001. The explanation is straightforward: Entering or exiting from Jupiter's shadow during an eclipse, Io is illuminated by solar light which has transited the atmosphere of Jupiter. This light, therefore becomes imprinted with the spectral signature of Jupiter's upper atmosphere, which includes strong atmospheric methane absorption bands. Intercepting solar light refracted by the jovian atmosphere, Io essentially becomes a "miffor" for solar occultation events of Jupiter. The thickness of the layer where refracted solar light is observed is so large (more than 3000 km at Io's orbit), that we can foresee a nearly continuous multi-year period of similar events at Saturn, utilizing the large and bright ring system. During Cassini's 4-year nominal mission, this probing tecnique should reveal information of Saturn's atmosphere over a large range of southern latitudes and times.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-84
Number of pages10
JournalIcarus
Volume166
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2003

Keywords

  • Infrared observations
  • Jupiter
  • Occultations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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