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Atmospheric chemistry on Uranus and Neptune

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journal contribution
posted on 13.07.2020, 10:48 by JI Moses, T Cavalie, LN Fletcher, MT Roman
Comparatively little is known about atmospheric chemistry on Uranus and Neptune, because remote spectral observations of these cold, distant ``Ice Giants'' are challenging, and each planet has only been visited by a single spacecraft during brief flybys in the 1980s. Thermochemical equilibrium is expected to control the composition in the deeper, hotter regions of the atmosphere on both planets, but disequilibrium chemical processes such as transport-induced quenching and photochemistry alter the composition in the upper atmospheric regions that can be probed remotely. Surprising disparities in the abundance of disequilibrium chemical products between the two planets point to significant differences in atmospheric transport. The atmospheric composition of Uranus and Neptune can provide critical clues for unravelling details of planet formation and evolution, but only if it is fully understood how and why atmospheric constituents vary in a three-dimensional sense and how material coming in from outside the planet affects observed abundances. Future mission planning should take into account the key outstanding questions that remain unanswered about atmospheric chemistry on Uranus and Neptune, particularly those questions that pertain to planet formation and evolution, and those that address the complex, coupled atmospheric processes that operate on Ice Giants within our solar system and beyond.

Funding

J.M. acknowledges support from the NASA Solar System Workings grant 80NSSC19K0536.T.C. acknowledges funding from CNES and from the Programme National de Planétologie (PNP) ofCNRS/INSU. L.F. was supported by a Royal Society Research Fellowship at the University of Leicester.L.F. and M.R. acknowledge support from a European Research Council Consolidator Grant (under theEuropean Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, grant agreement No. 723890)

History

Citation

Philosophical Transactions A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 2020

Author affiliation

School of Physics and Astronomy

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

Philosophical Transactions A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences

Volume

378

Issue

2187

Publisher

Royal Society

issn

1364-503X

eissn

1471-2962

Acceptance date

16/06/2020

Copyright date

2020

Available date

09/11/2020

Language

en