JWST Planetary Observations within the Solar System
Publication date: 09 March 2010
Authors: Lunine, J., et al.
Journal: JWST White Paper
JWST provides capabilities unmatched by other telescopic facilities in the near to mid infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Its combination of broad wavelength range, high sensitivity and near diffraction-limited imaging around two microns wavelength make it a high value facility for a variety of Solar System targets. Beyond Neptune, a class of cold, large bodies that include Pluto, Triton and Eris exhibits surface deposits of nitrogen, methane, and other molecules that are poorly observed from the ground, but for which JWST might provide spectral mapping at high sensitivity and spatial resolution difficult to match with the current generation of ground-based observatories. The observatory will also provide unique sensitivity in a variety of near and mid infrared windows for observing relatively deep into the atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune, searching there for minor species. It will examine the Jovian aurora in a wavelength regime where the background atmosphere is dark. Special provision of a subarray observing strategy may allow observation of Jupiter and Saturn over a larger wavelength range despite their large surface brightnesses, allowing for detailed observation of transient phenomena including large scale storms and impact-generation disturbances. JWSTs observations of Saturns moon Titan will overlap with and go beyond the 2017 end-of-mission for Cassini, providing an important extension to the time-series of meteorological studies for much of northern hemisphere summer. It will overlap with a number of other planetary missions to targets for which JWST can make unique types of observations. JWST provides a platform for linking solar system and extrasolar planet studies through its unique observational capabilities in both arenas.Link to publication