Near-infrared polarization studies of Saturn and Jupiter

James C. Kemp, Richard J. Rudy, Marcia J. Lebofsky, George H. Rieke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Polarization measurements of Jupiter, Saturn, and Saturn's rings from 1 to 3.5 μm are presented. At 1.6 μm on the discs of the two planets, the radially directed limb polarizations observed in the visible undergo, in some cases, a surprising 90° rotation to a tangential direction, particularly on the poles. The only immediate explanation for this effect is double Mie scattering, due to aerosols which must be of the order of a micrometer in size. On Jupiter the patterns are not uniform and are not stable, reflecting variable aerosol concentrations on the two poles. The ring polarization is uniformly negative (E vector parallel to the ecliptic plane) from the visible through 3.5 μm, and is inversely proportional to the albedo. This is as expected from Wolff's model for scattering from rough solid surfaces; but the degree of polarization seems uncommonly high, exceeding 2% at 3.5 μm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-271
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1978

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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