CSP Seminar Speaker: Kerri Cahoy (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

in In the News
March 7th, 2011

Speaker: Kerri Cahoy
Affiliation: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Title: Planets Near and Far: exploring new worlds with spacecraft radios and telescopes

Date: Thursday, March 10, 2011
Time: 3:30 PM Refreshments in CAS 500, 4:00 PM Talk
Place: 725 Commonwealth Ave. CAS 502

This talk highlights two methods for remotely sensing planetary atmospheres from space. The first method, Radio Occultation, relies on stable radios to probe the atmospheres and ionospheres of “near” solar system planets as the spacecraft fly by or orbit the planet. We show an example of how hundreds of radio occultation temperature, pressure, and electron density profiles from the Mars Global Surveyor orbiter can be used to detect signatures of complex atmospheric dynamics on Mars. Constellations of low-Earth orbiting small-sats equipped with radio occultation GPS receivers could provide real-time atmospheric tomography data and significantly contribute to monitoring Earth’s climate and space weather. The second method, Coronagraphic Direct Imaging of Exoplanets, allows us to detect and characterize the atmospheres of planets “far” outside of our solar system using a space-based telescope in a heliocentric orbit. We show simulations of these exoplanet measurements, and show how these measurements can help us tell whether planets in systems many parsecs away are like our own.