DPS 34th Meeting, October 2002
Session 13. Outer Planets: Atmospheric Dynamics, Clouds
Oral, Chair(s): G.S. Orton and K.A. Rages, Tuesday, October 8, 2002, 1:30-3:30pm, Room M

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[13.12] The Motions and Morphologies of cloud features on Neptune: continued monitoring with Keck Adaptive Optics

S.C. Martin, I. de Pater (UC Berkeley), S.G. Gibbard, B.A. Macintosh (LLNL), H.G. Roe (UC Berkeley), C.E. Max (LLNL)

We present near infrared images taken in the H band (1.4-1.8 microns) using the newly commissioned NIRC2 at the W. M. Keck II telescope as part of a continuing program to monitor the atmospheric dynamics of Neptune using Adaptive Optics. These images with a resolution of .06 arcseconds reveal five infrared bright groups of features. Two groups of features (30-40 deg N and 20-50 deg S) are confined in latitude but span all longitudes creating bands around the planet. Small cloud morphology and relative motions in the wide Southern band (20-50 deg S) identify apparent cloud shearing events and differences in relative speeds within latitude bands. One localized group of features (30 deg N) shows interesting morphologies with marked departures from lines of latitude. Another localized group of South Polar features (70 deg S) show changes in morphology from a teardrop to a train of clouds to an arc of features during three years of observations. The final group of features is spatially diffuse and spans many latitude lines but is tightly confined in longitude.

This research was supported in part by the STC Program of the National Science Foundation under Agreement No. AST-9876783, and in part under the auspices of the US Department of Energy at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Univ. of Calif. under contract No. W-7405-Eng-48. Data presented herein were obtained at the W.M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W.M. Keck Foundation.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #3< br> © 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.