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Ammonia Retrieval Above Jupiter’s Clouds: Accuracy, Consistency, and Accessibility

Presentation #325.07 in the session Origin and Evolution of Giant Planet Systems I (Poster + Lightning Talk)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Ammonia Retrieval Above Jupiter’s Clouds: Accuracy, Consistency, and Accessibility

After three years of development, trials, and validation, routine observations and data reduction are planned for monitoring the atmospheric ammonia distribution during Jupiter’s 2023 apparition. Prior work has shown that small telescope observations with specially selected narrow-band filters can be reduced to obtain spatially resolved ammonia abundances. Denoted fc(NH3), the mole fraction represents column average above Jupiter’s effective cloud tops. Computed distributions of fc(NH3) compared favorably with results from VLT-MUSE observations and vertical averages from mid-infrared retrievals. Monitoring Jupiter’s ammonia over an extended period (years) at relatively high cadence (several times per month during apparitions) will provide context and continuity for professional observations. To do this effectively requires that the observations and reduction procedures be accurate, consistent, and accessible. This work presents the approach to achieving these goals, while highlighting current results along the way. Accuracy requires a verified characterization of the uncertainty of the resulting data products. Here we assess the impacts that multiple difference and ratio calculations have on amplifying noise in addition to calibrations that may introduce biases. Consistency requires a standardized observing program, in this case a “nested” sequence of filter observations that maximizes signal to noise and minimizes rotational offsets in Jupiter’s central meridian for different filters. The reduction pipeline is written in Python and will be hosted on GitHub. Accessibility requires a way to share the data effectively in a standardized format with appropriate metadata. Retrieved parameters (ammonia absorption, methane absorption, and ammonia mole fraction) will be available as latitude-longitude gridded maps in FITS format. Standardized procedures and processing with well-understood uncertainties will enhance further collaboration with advanced amateurs and professional researchers investigating the Jovian ammonia cycle and related phenomena.

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