français Version française
Institut d'Astrophysique et
de Géophysique (Bât. B5c)

Quartier Agora
Allée du 6 août, 19C
B-4000 Liège 1 (Sart-Tilman)
Belgique

Tel.: 04.366.9774
Fax: 04.366.9729

Research Topics

Planets

Planets

Our solar system officially counts 8 planets. The four planets that are nearest to the Sun; Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are rocky bodies, while the four farthest ones are gaseous planets. All of them bear an atmosphere, eventually tenuous, which characteristics depend on the planet size, position and evolution.
Researches conducted at the Laboratory for Planetary and Atmospheric Physics (LPAP) focus on the physical and chemical processes occurring in the upper atmospheres of Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. They take advantage of planetary spacecraft like Venus Express, Mars Express and Galileo (Jupiter) and Cassini (Saturn) missions. Data collected with the different instruments are used to compare the atmospheric conditions between them in view of what is observed at Earth.

Apart from Venus and Mars, all solar system planets generate their own magnetic field. Their interaction with the solar wind gives rise to a magnetic cavity, called the magnetosphere, protecting the planet from the solar particles onslaught. The presence of, often fierce, phenomena inside the magnetosphere may leave visible signatures in the planetary atmosphere. They take the form of polar aurorae.
The LPAP studies Jupiter's and Saturn's ultraviolet aurorae and their connection with the magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling. Additionally to Galileo and Cassini data, researchers are regularly involved in observing campaigns with the Hubble Space Telescope.

University of Liège > Faculty of Sciences > Department of Astrophysics, Geophysics and Oceanography : CoWebAGO, Juin 2009.