Neutral atmospheres

I. C.F. Mueller-Wodarg, D. F. Strobel, J. I. Moses, J. H. Waite, J. Crovisier, R. V. Yelle, S. W. Bougher, R. G. Roble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


This paper summarizes the understanding of aeronomy of neutral atmospheres in the solar system, discussing most planets as well as Saturn's moon Titan and comets. The thermal structure and energy balance is compared, highlighting the principal reasons for discrepancies amongst the atmospheres, a combination of atmospheric composition, heliocentric distance and other external energy sources not common to all. The composition of atmospheres is discussed in terms of vertical structure, chemistry and evolution. The final section compares dynamics in the upper atmospheres of most planets and highlights the importance of vertical dynamical coupling as well as magnetospheric forcing in auroral regions, where present. It is shown that a first order understanding of neutral atmospheres has emerged over the past decades, thanks to the combined effects of spacecraft and Earth-based observations as well as advances in theoretical modeling capabilities. Key gaps in our understanding are highlighted which ultimately call for a more comprehensive programme of observation and laboratory measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-234
Number of pages44
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Atmospheres
  • Comets
  • Composition
  • Dynamics
  • Moons
  • Observations
  • Planets
  • Theoretical modeling
  • Thermal structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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