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EPSSI Seminar: Dr. Alexandria V. Johnson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brown University

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Monday, October 3, 2016, 4:05 pm– 5 pm

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Bringing Exoplanet Clouds Down to Earth


The lack of strong spectral features of some exoplanet atmospheres may suggest the presence of a high, optically thick cloud layer and poses great challenges for atmospheric characterization. Terrestrial based cloud physics has proven a useful resource for understanding the cloud-laden atmospheres of our solar system. Here we build on this by leveraging lab-based, terrestrial cloud particle instrumentation to better understand the microphysical and radiative properties of exoplanet clouds.

The work to be presented focuses on the scattering phase functions of single particles, believed representative of exoplanet atmospheric condensates, levitated in an ElectroDynamic Balance (EDB). I will discuss our current limits of exo-atmospheric understanding, the EDBs used in this work, how we leverage terrestrial based microphysics for exoplanet applications, and our investigation of ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) scattering properties across temperature dependent crystalline phase changes.

Through this and future studies we hope to better understand how particles representative of those in exoplanet atmospheres interact with incoming radiation from their host stars, determine how these clouds might directly limit our ability to observe and characterize the atmosphere below, and what atmospheric information is still obtainable when a lack of spectral features is observed.

Part of the 2016 Earth Planetary and Space Sciences Institute (EPSSI) Seminar Series

Annual seminar series on topics related to Earth Planetary and Space Sciences and course UN 4000 REMOTE SENSING.

Seminars are open to everyone.

Course registartion open to all juniors, seniors and grad students! 

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