Photometry and polarimetry of Jupiter at large phase angles. II. Polarimetry of the South Tropical Zone, South Equatorial Belt, and the polar regions from the Pioneer 10 and 11 missions

Peter H. Smith, Martin G. Tomasko

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76 Scopus citations


The imaging photopolarimeter (IPP) experiment on the Pioneer 10 and 11 missions to Jupiter measured the intensity and linear polarization of red and blue sunlight reflected from the planet over a range of phase angles inaccessible from the Earth. We give an overview of the polarization data obtained in the two Jupiter encounters at phase angles from 43° to 117° and briefly describe the photometry data from the Pioneer 11 encounter at phase angles between 34° and 80° which partially fill a gap in the phase coverage from Pioneer 10 (M. G. Tomasko, R. A. West, and N. D. Castillo, 1978, Icarus 33, 558-592). The polarimetry and photometry of the South Tropical Zone (STrZ), the north component of the South Equatorial Belt (SEBn), and a north-south cut extending to the south pole are given in detailed tables. Comparison of the data to multiple-scattering models yields several details of the distribution and single-scattering properties of the clouds and aerosols on Jupiter. The observed polarization in blue light at latitudes less than about 40° shows only small variations between belts and zones. Simple models indicate that the tops of the belt and zone clouds are reached at nearly the same pressure level of about 320 mb and that the polarization differences are a result of the lower cloud albedo in the belt. The optical thickness of the belt as well as the zone clouds at this level must be at least 1.5 to prevent the polarization produced by underlying gas from being seen in the data. The polarization rises abruptly toward the limb and terminator in red light, indicating a haze of positively polarizing particles with an optical thickness of a few tenths at a pressure level of about 120 mb. The polarization in both colors increases abruptly from latitudes north of 40°N and south of 48°S to values as high as 60% at high latitudes. This effect is not due to a longer slant path but must be due to a large increase in the optical thickness of the polarizing haze at high latitudes. There is some indication that the size of the haze aerosols grows with increasing latitude as well. The photometry data indicate little change in the brightness of planetary features in the year between the two Pioneer encounters. Photometric models that fit the Pioneer 10 data fit the Pioneer 11 data remarkably well with essentially the same phase functions. Using a two-cloud model, we find that our models best fit the limb darkening at 12° phase when the belt absorbers are evenly distributed in both the clouds. There is no evidence for rainbow-like bumps on the single-scattering phase functions in the range of scattering angles from 120° to 140° as might result from scattering by spherical particles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-73
Number of pages39
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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