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Planets - Towards Understanding their General circulation Atmospheres (P-TUGA)

Principal Investigator
Pedro Machado

There is currently a considerable effort from the planetary science community to study the dynamics of planetary atmospheres, within and beyond our Solar System. Nevertheless, the knowledge of all mechanisms at work on Solar System planet atmospheres is still limited. An understanding of the dominant factors and mechanisms controlling the atmospheric general circulation is a prerequisite to our understanding of planets? climate variability. In this context, Venus and Mars are natural comparative laboratories to investigate diversity of circulation regimes of atmospheres of terrestrial planets.

During the 3 years project our efforts will be focused on those main scientific issues:
- the nature of the processes governing super-rotation in the atmosphere of Venus
- the role of small-scale waves in the observed variability on Venus and Mars middle/upper atmosphere
- the nature of processes controlling the so-called ?transition? region of Venus atmosphere (between the retrograde superrotation zonal flow and day-to-night circulation)
- the nature of the processes governing the overall atmosphere dynamics in Jupiter and Saturn.
- the structure and evolution of the intense prograde jets on Saturn

This project (P-Tuga) is meant to take advantage not only of the solid expertise of the Team on different observational techniques to measure winds on Venus atmospheres, but also of the know-how on modeling of terrestrial planet atmospheres. The Team also includes world reference partners in the study of the Gas Giants' atmospheres. P-Tuga aims to promote a close collaboration between space, ground based observations and modeling teams in order to merge and critically compare the information obtained from different sources and to increase data-model synergies. The inter-comparison (models-models and data-models) would provide us more confidence and robustness to both 3D models and our Doppler velocimetry techniques, which is currently successfully used to study the dynamics of Venus atmosphere.

In addition, our Team is currently involved in several international projects dedicated to characterize Solar System's planet and exoplanet atmospheres (Akatsuki, CASSINI, ESPRESSO@VLT, HIRES@E-ELT, NIRPS, SPIROU). All the tasks will be supported by long-term collaboration with several international experts in the field of Planetary atmospheres. This will help consolidating the Solar System Planetary Atmosphere team in Portugal ensuring its leadership.

P-Tuga intends not only to improve the understanding of physical and dynamical processes in the atmosphere of terrestrial planets, but also to pave the way for future studies of atmosphere of extrasolar planets. Finally, the proposed project will provide the Planetary Systems community with a new high-precision tool, potentially valuable to characterize also exoplanet atmospheres.

In parallel, dedicated outreach activities will be promoted with the support of a very active Science Communication Group in Portugal.

3 September 2018
2 September 2022

Funding Institution
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia

Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia