30 Years of Planetary Astronomy with H3+

JUNO JIRAM infrared image of Jupiter’s southern aurora - Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM
Start Date
End Date

A Royal Astronomical Society Specialist Discussion Meeting organised by *Steve Miller (UCL); Nick Achilleos (UCL)


JUNO JIRAM infrared image of Jupiter’s southern aurora - Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM

2018 marks the 30th anniversary of the serendipitous discovery of the H3+ molecular ion in Jupiter’s northern aurora. The discovery itself was the result of an impromptu collaboration between astronomical observers, telescope instrument builders, laboratory spectroscopists and molecular physicists. H3+ emission has subsequently been detected from Saturn and Uranus, of the Solar System’s giant planets, but not Neptune. As an energetic and reactive molecular ion, H3+ is now used as a tracer for energy inputs, via particle precipitation, into giant planets’ atmospheres from their enormous magnetospheres: variations in emission levels are used to monitor both shorter-term magnetospheric dynamics, caused by changes in internal (plasma density) and external (solar wind dynamic pressure) factors, and longer-term changes that may result from the solar cycle and seasonal changes in solar irradiation. The final results from Cassini – particularly the VIMS instrument – and new measurements from JUNO mean that there is a wealth of data to add to and complement that being generated from ground-based observations. All-in-all, there is a wealth of material to review and huge current interest in just how this simple molecular ion behaves and what it tells us about planets in our Solar System and beyond. 

Confirmed speakers:

Nick Achilleos, UCL
Sarah Badman, University of Lancaster
Marina Galand, ICSTM
Jean-Pierre Maillard, Observatoire de Paris
Henrik Melin, University of Leicester
Steve Miller, UCL
Renee Prange, LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, Meudon
Licia Ray, University of Lancaster
Tom Stallard, University of Leicester

There are also a few slots available for contributed talks and posters are welcome.

Admission to Specialist Discussion Meetings is free for RAS Fellows, £15 for non-fellows (£5 for students), cash or cheque only, collected at the registration desk.  Admission to the subsequent Open (Monthly A&G) Meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society is open to all, at no charge

Venue Address

The Royal Astronomical Society,Burlington House


51.5085763, -0.13960799999995