Introduction to the project

Project Overview

Toward the understanding of universal planetary atmosphere environment

 There are various types of planetary atmospheres, such as faint and hot atmosphere on Mercury, cold carbon dioxide atmosphere on Mars where liquid water probably existed on the ground in the past, a huge magnetosphere of Jupiter. Investigation of these planetary atmospheric is like an experiment of planetary atmosphere with extreme conditions, and it also contributes to understand the terrestrial atmosphere at present, in the past and future. We may expand these understandings to universal planetary atmosphere like exo-planets.

Research approach that integrates theory and observation

 So far, observation has been carried out with optical and radio remote sensing. However, there is a limitation of remote sensing data, for example, the values are integrated along the ling-of-sight direction on remote-sensing data. On the other hand, modeling and computer simulation have efficacy for examining the energy flow and chemical process in the whole planetary atmospheric system. To understand the physical and chemical processes in planetary atmosphere quantitatively, it is necessary to carry out the research approach that integrates theoretical models based on computer simulation and observation data.

Promotion of young researchers overseas visits and international collaboration

 In this program, two young scientists, Masato Kagitani and Hiromu Nakagawa, visit mainly to Institute for Astronomy (IfA), University of Hawaii in USA, and carry out the collaboration on the development of optical instruments with advanced technology as well as the construction of the 60-cm telescope at the summit of Haleakala, Hawaii. In addition, two other young scientists, Naoki Terada and Takeshi Kuroda, visit to Laboratoire Atmospheres, Milieux, Observations Spatiales (LATMOS) in France and Max-Planck-Institut fur Sonnensystemforschung (MPS) in Germany, respectively, to perform theoretical research on planetary atmospheres with modeling and simulation.
 Accordingly, our group is going to improve as an international center of planetary research consists of principal leaders who are necessary for future international big mission such as a large telescope and planetary exploration spacecraft.

Project 1: Observation of planetary plasma -
     atmosphere coupling process

Jeffery Kuhn, Ph. D, a professor of Institute for Astronomy (IfA), University of Hawaii, USA is in charge of the acceptance of Masato Kagitani on this project. This project aims to understand the plasma-atmosphere coupling process on Jupiter. The Jupiter system is curious, particularly on the huge aurora in the ionosphere, co-rotating magnetosphere where plasmas are mostly provided by the volcanos on Io. We are going to construct the 60-cm telescope facility at the summit of Haleakala (3055 m altitude) and develop visible and infrared Echelle spectrometers as a collaboration work with IfA. We also carry out conjugate observation between ground-based telescopes and the Hisaki/EXCEED satellite which was launched successfully in September 2014. This collaboration work between Tohoku University and IfA produces constructive relationship to the future 2-m telescope mission PLANETS.

Project 2: Observation of spatial and time variations
     in planetary atmosphere

Jeffery Kuhn, Ph. D, a professor of Institute for Astronomy (IfA), University of Hawaii, USA is in charge of the acceptance of Hiromu Nakagawa on this project. This project aims to develop a unique ultra-high resolution laser heterodyne mid-infrared spectrometer, and carry out the Martian atmosphere to understand its spatial and time variation. Martian methane and other miner gasses are considered to provide a measure of life activities at present or past and geological activity. We will conduct international campaign to observe Martian methane and minor gasses.

Project 3: Theoretical research
     on planetary plasma and atmospheric variations

Francois Leblanc, Ph. D. in Laboratoire Atmospheres, Milieux, Observations Spatiales (LATMOS) in France is in charge the acceptance of Naoki Terada on this project. In addition, Paul Hartogh, Ph. D. and Alexander S. Medvedev, Ph. D. in Max-Planck-Institut fur Sonnensystemforschung (MPS) are in charge of the acceptance of Takeshi Kuroda. Based on the regional models developed by our group in Tohoku University, we develop a coupling model which integrates the models from lower to upper atmospheres. This work contribute to understand a whole system on planetary atmosphere, and provide complementary physical parameters by comparing observation data obtained in the project 1 and 2.