37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 30 Outer Planets
Poster, Tuesday, September 6, 2005, 6:00-7:15pm, Music Lecture Room 5

[Previous] | [Session 30] | [Next]

[30.23] On the vertical wind shear of Saturn’s Equatorial Jet at cloud level

A. Sánchez-Lavega, S. Pérez-Hoyos (Universidad Pais Vasco)

With the aim of retrieving the altitude of cloud features used as zonal wind tracers in Saturn's atmosphere, we have reanalyzed three different sets of photometric and calibrated data corresponding to the Voyager epoch 1979-1981 (ground-based in 1979, Voyager 2 PPS and ISS observations in 1981), and we have analyze a new set of Hubble Space Telescope images for 2004. This analysis is put in the perspective of our previous HST study for 1994-2003 (Pérez-Hoyos et al., Icarus, 176, 155. 2005). A common result is found that the individual cloud tracers are embedded within a variable tropospheric haze. According to our models, the Voyager 2 ISS images locate the cloud tracers moving with zonal velocities of 455 to 465 (± 2) m/s at a pressure level of 360 ± 140 mbar. For HST observations, the cloud tracers moving with zonal wind speeds of 280 ± 10 m/s, locate at a pressure level of about 50 ± 10 mbar. All these values are calculated in the latitude 3 deg North. The speed difference, if interpreted as a vertical wind shear (Porco et al., Science, 307, 1226. 2005), requires a change of 90 m/s per scale height, two times greater than that estimated from Cassini CIRS data (Flasar et al., Science, 307, 1247, 2005). We also perform an initial guess on Cassini ISS vertical sounding levels, retrieving values compatible with the HST ones but not with Voyager wind measurements. We conclude that the wind speed velocity differences measured between 1979-81 and 2004 in the upper troposphere cannot be solely explained as a wind shear effect and demand dynamical processes. We discuss the possible action of Rossby waves or an intrinsic circulation change in the ammonia cloud layer and above, following a large period of equatorial storm activity.

Acknowledgments: This work was supported by MCYT AYA2003-03216, FEDER, and Grupos UPV 15946/2004. S.P.-H. acknowledges a PhD fellowship from the Spanish MEC and R. H. a post-doc contract from Gobierno Vasco.

[Previous] | [Session 30] | [Next]

Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.