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Jupiter’s infrared aurora and ionosphere (AST/2020/STA2)

Project Description

With the arrival of NASA's Juno mission at Jupiter, with magnetic measurements and ionospheric soundings by the spacecraft, our understanding of these aurora is changing dramatically. Instrumentation on the spacecraft itself is highly limited, and in the past, our understanding of how these aurora are formed and what magnetospheric processes drive them have both been greatly enhanced by our ground-based observations of the planet.

We have recently observed Jupiter's aurora in the infrared using a range of different world-class telescopes, including Keck, VLT and IRTF, in many cases at the same time as the spacecraft flew over the auroral region taking in-situ measurements. Our observations have also measured the equatorial regions, revealing for the first time a wide range of ionospheric features that can be directly compared with Juno magnetometer measurements.

This project gives the student an opportunity to work with observational data taken at these world-class telescope, analysing the data to produce fundamental new understanding of the process that drive the aurora and equatorial ionosphere of Jupiter. If data is available, the project could also include analysis of Juno JIRAM measurements of these regions from in-situ around the planet. An important additional component of the project work will include helping to observe infrared emission from the Gas Giants, either using remote observations, or on-site at the telescope - past students have visited the Mauna Kea Observatories in Hawaii to do this.

Entry Requirements

UK Bachelor Degree with at least 2:1 in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent.

The University of Leicester English language requirements apply.

Home/EU students only subject to residency requirements.

Application Instructions

When applying, please ensure we have received all of the following required documents by Wednesday 29th January 2020:

• Submit an online application form
• 2 academic references
• STFC Research Interests Form
• CV
• Undergraduate transcripts
- If you have completed your undergraduate degree, we will also require your undergraduate degree certificate
- If you have completed a postgraduate degree, we will also require your transcripts and degree certificate

If we do not have the required documents by the closing date, your application may not be considered for the studentship.

Interview Dates

26th February 2020 – In person
27th February 2020 – Skype only
28th February 2020 – Skype only
2nd March 2020 – Skype only
3rd March 2020 – Skype only
4th March 2020 – In person

Funding Notes

Funding Source: STFC Quota Studentship

3.5 year Studentship provides a tuition fee waiver at UK/EU rates, stipend at UKRI rates and RTSG.


1. Stallard, T. S., Melin, H., Miller, S., Moore, L., O'Donoghue, J., Connerney, J. E. P., Satoh, T., West, R. A., Thayer, J. P., Hsu, V. W., Johnson, R. E. (2017), The Great Cold Spot in Jupiter's upper atmosphere, Geophysical Research Letters 44, 3000-3008, DOI:10.1002/2016GL071956

2. Melin, H., Stallard, T. S. (2016), Jupiter's hydrogen bulge: A Cassini perspective, Icarus 278, 238-247, DOI:10.1016/j.icarus.2016.06.023

3. Johnson, R. E., Stallard, T. S., Melin, H., Miller, S., Nichols, J. D. (2016), Measurements of the rotation rate of the jovian mid-to-low latitude ionosphere, Icarus 280, 249-254, DOI:10.1016/j.icarus.2016.06.026

4. Temperature changes and energy inputs in giant planet atmospheres: what we are learning from H3+ :

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