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Analyses of Planetary Atmospheres Across the Spectrum: From Titan to Exoplanets


Kammer, Joshua Andrew (2015) Analyses of Planetary Atmospheres Across the Spectrum: From Titan to Exoplanets. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9GX48HD.


Planetary atmospheres exist in a seemingly endless variety of physical and chemical environments. There are an equally diverse number of methods by which we can study and characterize atmospheric composition. In order to better understand the fundamental chemistry and physical processes underlying all planetary atmospheres, my research of the past four years has focused on two distinct topics. First, I focused on the data analysis and spectral retrieval of observations obtained by the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) instrument onboard the Cassini spacecraft while in orbit around Saturn. These observations consisted of stellar occultation measurements of Titan's upper atmosphere, probing the chemical composition in the region 300 to 1500 km above Titan's surface. I examined the relative abundances of Titan's two most prevalent chemical species, nitrogen and methane. I also focused on the aerosols that are formed through chemistry involving these two major species, and determined the vertical profiles of aerosol particles as a function of time and latitude. Moving beyond our own solar system, my second topic of investigation involved analysis of infra-red light curves from the Spitzer space telescope, obtained as it measured the light from stars hosting planets of their own. I focused on both transit and eclipse modeling during Spitzer data reduction and analysis. In my initial work, I utilized the data to search for transits of planets a few Earth masses in size. In more recent research, I analyzed secondary eclipses of three exoplanets and constrained the range of possible temperatures and compositions of their atmospheres.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Atmospheric science; Titan; Exoplanets
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Geological and Planetary Sciences
Major Option:Planetary Sciences
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Yung, Yuk L. (co-advisor)
  • Knutson, Heather A. (co-advisor)
Group:Astronomy Department
Thesis Committee:
  • Ingersoll, Andrew P. (chair)
  • Blake, Geoffrey A.
  • Yung, Yuk L.
  • Knutson, Heather A.
Defense Date:25 September 2014
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:08312014-134619300
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription adapted for ch. 3 adapted for ch. 5
Kammer, Joshua Andrew0000-0002-3441-3757
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8651
Deposited By: Joshua Kammer
Deposited On:03 Oct 2014 17:18
Last Modified:08 Nov 2023 00:36

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