Saturn's vertical and latitudinal cloud structure 1991-2004 from HST imaging in 30 filters

Erich Karkoschka, Martin G Tomasko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We analyzed 134 images of Saturn taken by the Hubble Space Telescope between 1991 and 2004. The images cover wavelengths between 231 and 2370 nm in 30 filters. We combined some 10 million calibrated reflectivity measurements into 18,000 center-to-limb curves. We used the method of principal component analysis to find the main latitudinal and temporal variations in Saturn's atmosphere and their spectral characteristics. The first principal variation is a strong latitudinal variation of the aerosol optical depth in the upper troposphere. This structure shifts with Saturn's seasons, but the structure on small scales of latitude stays constant. The second principal variation is a variable optical depth of stratospheric aerosols. The optical depth is large at the poles and small at mid- and low latitudes with a steep gradient in-between. This structure remains essentially constant in time. The third principal variation is a variation in the tropospheric aerosol size, which has only shallow gradients with latitude, but large seasonal variations. Thus, aerosol sizes and their phase functions inferred at a particular season are not representative of Saturn's atmosphere at other seasons. Aerosols are largest in the summer and smallest in the winter. The fourth principal variation is a feature of the tropospheric aerosols with irregular latitudinal structure and fast variability, on the time scale of months. Spherical aerosols do not display the spectral characteristic of that feature. We suspect that variations in the shape of aerosols may play a role. We found a spectral feature of the imaginary index of aerosols, which darkens them near 400 nm wavelength. While we can describe Saturn's variations quite accurately, our presented model of Saturn's average atmosphere is still uncertain due to possible systematic offsets in methane absorption data and limitations of the knowledge about the shape of aerosols. In order to compare our results with those from comparable investigations, which used less than 30 filters, we fit models to spectral subsets of our data. We found very different best-fitting models, depending on the subset of filters, indicating a high sensitivity of results on the spectral sampling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-221
Number of pages27
JournalIcarus
Volume179
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005

Fingerprint

Saturn
aerosols
aerosol
filter
filters
optical depth
Saturn atmosphere
optical thickness
atmosphere
particle size
set theory
wavelength
gradients
reflectivity
limb
troposphere
annual variations
principal component analysis
principal components analysis
guy wires

Keywords

  • Atmosphere
  • Saturn

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

Cite this

Saturn's vertical and latitudinal cloud structure 1991-2004 from HST imaging in 30 filters. / Karkoschka, Erich; Tomasko, Martin G.

In: Icarus, Vol. 179, No. 1, 01.12.2005, p. 195-221.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{d845b83322154ee591bf351002786f6f,
title = "Saturn's vertical and latitudinal cloud structure 1991-2004 from HST imaging in 30 filters",
abstract = "We analyzed 134 images of Saturn taken by the Hubble Space Telescope between 1991 and 2004. The images cover wavelengths between 231 and 2370 nm in 30 filters. We combined some 10 million calibrated reflectivity measurements into 18,000 center-to-limb curves. We used the method of principal component analysis to find the main latitudinal and temporal variations in Saturn's atmosphere and their spectral characteristics. The first principal variation is a strong latitudinal variation of the aerosol optical depth in the upper troposphere. This structure shifts with Saturn's seasons, but the structure on small scales of latitude stays constant. The second principal variation is a variable optical depth of stratospheric aerosols. The optical depth is large at the poles and small at mid- and low latitudes with a steep gradient in-between. This structure remains essentially constant in time. The third principal variation is a variation in the tropospheric aerosol size, which has only shallow gradients with latitude, but large seasonal variations. Thus, aerosol sizes and their phase functions inferred at a particular season are not representative of Saturn's atmosphere at other seasons. Aerosols are largest in the summer and smallest in the winter. The fourth principal variation is a feature of the tropospheric aerosols with irregular latitudinal structure and fast variability, on the time scale of months. Spherical aerosols do not display the spectral characteristic of that feature. We suspect that variations in the shape of aerosols may play a role. We found a spectral feature of the imaginary index of aerosols, which darkens them near 400 nm wavelength. While we can describe Saturn's variations quite accurately, our presented model of Saturn's average atmosphere is still uncertain due to possible systematic offsets in methane absorption data and limitations of the knowledge about the shape of aerosols. In order to compare our results with those from comparable investigations, which used less than 30 filters, we fit models to spectral subsets of our data. We found very different best-fitting models, depending on the subset of filters, indicating a high sensitivity of results on the spectral sampling.",
keywords = "Atmosphere, Saturn",
author = "Erich Karkoschka and Tomasko, {Martin G}",
year = "2005",
month = "12",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.icarus.2005.05.016",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "179",
pages = "195--221",
journal = "Icarus",
issn = "0019-1035",
publisher = "Academic Press Inc.",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Saturn's vertical and latitudinal cloud structure 1991-2004 from HST imaging in 30 filters

AU - Karkoschka, Erich

AU - Tomasko, Martin G

PY - 2005/12/1

Y1 - 2005/12/1

N2 - We analyzed 134 images of Saturn taken by the Hubble Space Telescope between 1991 and 2004. The images cover wavelengths between 231 and 2370 nm in 30 filters. We combined some 10 million calibrated reflectivity measurements into 18,000 center-to-limb curves. We used the method of principal component analysis to find the main latitudinal and temporal variations in Saturn's atmosphere and their spectral characteristics. The first principal variation is a strong latitudinal variation of the aerosol optical depth in the upper troposphere. This structure shifts with Saturn's seasons, but the structure on small scales of latitude stays constant. The second principal variation is a variable optical depth of stratospheric aerosols. The optical depth is large at the poles and small at mid- and low latitudes with a steep gradient in-between. This structure remains essentially constant in time. The third principal variation is a variation in the tropospheric aerosol size, which has only shallow gradients with latitude, but large seasonal variations. Thus, aerosol sizes and their phase functions inferred at a particular season are not representative of Saturn's atmosphere at other seasons. Aerosols are largest in the summer and smallest in the winter. The fourth principal variation is a feature of the tropospheric aerosols with irregular latitudinal structure and fast variability, on the time scale of months. Spherical aerosols do not display the spectral characteristic of that feature. We suspect that variations in the shape of aerosols may play a role. We found a spectral feature of the imaginary index of aerosols, which darkens them near 400 nm wavelength. While we can describe Saturn's variations quite accurately, our presented model of Saturn's average atmosphere is still uncertain due to possible systematic offsets in methane absorption data and limitations of the knowledge about the shape of aerosols. In order to compare our results with those from comparable investigations, which used less than 30 filters, we fit models to spectral subsets of our data. We found very different best-fitting models, depending on the subset of filters, indicating a high sensitivity of results on the spectral sampling.

AB - We analyzed 134 images of Saturn taken by the Hubble Space Telescope between 1991 and 2004. The images cover wavelengths between 231 and 2370 nm in 30 filters. We combined some 10 million calibrated reflectivity measurements into 18,000 center-to-limb curves. We used the method of principal component analysis to find the main latitudinal and temporal variations in Saturn's atmosphere and their spectral characteristics. The first principal variation is a strong latitudinal variation of the aerosol optical depth in the upper troposphere. This structure shifts with Saturn's seasons, but the structure on small scales of latitude stays constant. The second principal variation is a variable optical depth of stratospheric aerosols. The optical depth is large at the poles and small at mid- and low latitudes with a steep gradient in-between. This structure remains essentially constant in time. The third principal variation is a variation in the tropospheric aerosol size, which has only shallow gradients with latitude, but large seasonal variations. Thus, aerosol sizes and their phase functions inferred at a particular season are not representative of Saturn's atmosphere at other seasons. Aerosols are largest in the summer and smallest in the winter. The fourth principal variation is a feature of the tropospheric aerosols with irregular latitudinal structure and fast variability, on the time scale of months. Spherical aerosols do not display the spectral characteristic of that feature. We suspect that variations in the shape of aerosols may play a role. We found a spectral feature of the imaginary index of aerosols, which darkens them near 400 nm wavelength. While we can describe Saturn's variations quite accurately, our presented model of Saturn's average atmosphere is still uncertain due to possible systematic offsets in methane absorption data and limitations of the knowledge about the shape of aerosols. In order to compare our results with those from comparable investigations, which used less than 30 filters, we fit models to spectral subsets of our data. We found very different best-fitting models, depending on the subset of filters, indicating a high sensitivity of results on the spectral sampling.

KW - Atmosphere

KW - Saturn

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=27744490214&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=27744490214&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.icarus.2005.05.016

DO - 10.1016/j.icarus.2005.05.016

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:27744490214

VL - 179

SP - 195

EP - 221

JO - Icarus

JF - Icarus

SN - 0019-1035

IS - 1

ER -