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Paper: Planetary Atmospheres at High Resolution
Volume: 476, New Trends in Radio Astronomy in the ALMA Era
Page: 213
Authors: Gurwell, M.; Butler, B.; Moullet, A.
Abstract: The long millimeter through submillimeter bands are particularly well suited for studying the wide variety of planetary atmospheres in our solar system. Temperatures ranging from a few 10s to hundreds of degrees, coupled with typically high densities (relative to the ISM) mean that thermal ‘continuum’ emission can be strong and molecular rotational transitions can be well-populated. Large bodies (Jovian and terrestrial planets) can be reasonably well studied by current interferometers such as the Submillimeter Array, IRAM Plateau de Bure Interferometer, and Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy, yet many smaller bodies with atmospheres can only be crudely studied, primarily due to lack of sensitivity on baselines long enough to well resolve the object. Newly powerful interferometers such as the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array will usher in a new era of planetary atmospheric exploration. The vast sensitivity and spatial resolution of these arrays will increase our ability to image all bodies with extremely fine fidelity (due to the large number of antennas), and for study of smaller objects by resolving their disks into many pixels while providing the sensitivity necessary to detect narrow and/or weak line emission. New science topics will range from detailed mapping of HDO, ClO, and sulfur species in the mesosphere of Venus and PH3 and H2S in the upper tropospheres of the gas and ice giants, high SNR mapping of winds on Mars, Neptune and Titan, down to spectroscopic imaging of volcanic eruptions within the tenuous atmosphere on Io, resolved imaging of CO and other species in the atmosphere of Pluto, and even potentially detection of gases within the plumes of Enceladus.
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