University of California Berkeley
Mike Wong is a Research Scientist in the Department
of Astronomy at the University of California at Berkeley.
His interest in cloud-forming gases in Jupiter's atmosphere
began with analyzing data from the mass spectrometer
on the Galileo Probe. Later, he participated with the
investigator team for the Composite Infrared Spectrometer
on Cassini in the discovery of the signature of ammonia
ice in Jupiter's thermal spectrum. With Franck Marchis,
he discovered the first moonlet binary among the Trojan
asteroids, a large group of objects that share the orbit
of Jupiter around the Sun.
Title 1: Red Spot Jr. and Jupiter's
White Oval BA turned red, like the Great Red Spot,
in late 2005. Collaborator Chris Go, an amateur astronomer
in Cebu City, Philippines, was the first to note this
But the story really begins in the 1920s, when Jupiter
suffered a planet-wide disturbance called a "global
upheaval." Three White Ovals formed after this
upheaval, and coexisted happily at the latitude of 33°
south, until they began merging together in 1998. By
2001, only a single oval remained: Oval BA. When this
feature turned red, astronomers nicknamed it "Red
Spot Jr." or the "Little Red Spot." While
the how and why of the color change are hotly debated
in the planetary community, our group and others are
continuing to acquire an exciting array of Hubble and
ground-based imaging and spectroscopic data to provide
answers to these questions.
Collaborator Phil Marcus made an interesting prediction
in 2001 after studying the merger of the three white
ovals. He believed that the merger would lead to a shutdown
of heat transfer from the equator to the pole across
the latitude of 33° south. The buildup of equatorial
heat would lead to new phenomena in Jupiter's atmosphere.
Indeed, about 7 years after the merger (one radiative
timescale), Oval BA turned red. The following year,
in 2006, Jupiter began a new global upheaval, producing
effects that are already helping us better understand
the Jovian atmosphere.
Title 2: Outer Planet Volatile Abundances
This talk is structured around the exploration of several
intimately related questions concerning water and other
volatiles in giant planets:
- What is the cloud structure in the giant planets?
- What did the Galileo Probe Mass Spectrometer find
out about water on Jupiter?
- Have remote sensing efforts measured water in the
giant planets? Will remote sensing succeed in the
- Can the abundances of other volatiles indirectly
tell us about water?
- How do volatile abundances compare among the giant
- What do the densities of giant planet moons tell
us about their origins?
- Can we use giant planet volatile abundance ratios
to constrain how the planets formed, and also characterize
the icy planetesimals that contributed to their formation?
- What conditions would permit oceans to exist in
ice giant planets?
A third topic, "Nitrogen on Jupiter - Clouds and
Cosmochemistry," is described here: http://astro.berkeley.edu/~mikewong/talks.html.