What will produce the first map of an extrasolar planet?
Mission to solar gravity lens focus
Other (please describe)
Will never happen
What will produce the first map of an extrasolar planet?
Depends on what you mean by a map. We have crude images of Pluto already with Hubble that we can use to determine a lot, but they aren't really maps. If you're wanting to see details, then a flyby is about the only way, even with lensing technology.
^^ Fully agree. We've already "mapped" a bunch of them
I'm guessing it's going to be some sort of flyby. I mean, planets are really small things, right? Even if you had an absolutely huge telescope, it'd be really, really hard to see, right?
Target: HD 189733 b.
NASA released a brightness map of the surface temperature of HD 189733 b; it is the first map ever published of an extra-solar planet.
Wow. I didn't know we already had one. Things are moving even faster than I dreamed.
Exciting isn't it!
I would point out that map has a very low resolution, so low that if the Earth were a feature on the surface of that world, it wouldn't show up.
But it is a good start.
I don't think that counts. It is a "weather map", which I don't think fits the spirit of the original question. A "map" should be a picture of relatively permanent features--something which someone could navigate by, in principle.
But a "weather map" is a picture of something which is constantly changing on relatively small time scales, so you couldn't navigate by it (other than to know to avoid storms, obviously).
Well, HD 189733 b is a gas giant planet. Under that rationale, the "maps" of the gas planets in the solar system would not count as "maps" either.Originally Posted by IsaacKuo
Even still, the infrared features noted are permanent. The heating flux from the star is continuous and winds always push the hottest part of the planet eastward.
The author of the OP seemed satisfied with the IR map. If IR wavelengths do not count, which set of wavelengths do? And how will this affect what we call the "maps" of Venus and Titan?
Last edited by Hungry4info; 2010-Mar-02 at 03:48 PM.
It's permanent in the same sense that Earth's day and night sides are permanent.Even still, the infrared features noted are permanent. The heating flux from the star is continuous and winds always push the hottest part of the planet eastward.
It's not a question of the wavelength, it's a question of what you're looking at. The radar maps of Venus and Titan are spiritually "maps" in the traditional sense because they show features that you could navigate by, if you were travelling around on them.The author of the OP seemed satisfied with the IR map. If IR wavelengths do not count, which set of wavelengths do? And how will this affect what we call the "maps" of Venus and Titan?
A "map" isn't a map because of how the data was gathered, it's a map because of what you can do with it.
Some interesting points, IsaacKuo.
What would you consider then to be a map of a gas planet? Or would they be un-mappable.
Jupiter has several well-defined zones and bands, as well as a red spot which appears to be of long duration. A map of Jupiter would be very useful if you wanted to find regions of upwelling and down draft.
Saturn seems to have a semipermanent hexagonal feature at its north pole, and a cyclone at its south pole- but these might change or even switch places as the planet moves though its seasons. Maps of gas giants are useful- but they must be expected to change. Don't forget that the Earth's geography changes too, just on a much longer timescale.
They assume the planet is tidally locked with the star, hence the features are assumed to be permanent.It's permanent in the same sense that Earth's day and night sides are permanent.
The consensus is that a map, a depiction of reality, is useful for whatever you want to use it for.It's not a question of the wavelength, it's a question of what you're looking at. The radar maps of Venus and Titan are spiritually "maps" in the traditional sense because they show features that you could navigate by, if you were travelling around on them.
Have a reference?A "map" isn't a map because of how the data was gathered, it's a map because of what you can do with it.
Et tu BAUT? Quantum mutatus ab illo.
If, for some unfortunate reason, I was in an air balloon in HD 189733 b's atmosphere, and I had that infrared map, I would know where in the atmosphere to try to avoid.
How would you select a line of 0 longitude on a gas giant?
For a tidally locked world, it is the longitude of the sub-solar point, the location on the surface where the sun is directly overhead (this applies with the moons of the solar system too, though with the planet instead of the star as the primary). For a non-tidally-locked world, the entire body rotates as a whole, but the upper atmosphere is subject to turbulence and what-not. A gas giant planet that is not in a synchronous rotation would lack a reference point, however, for 0° of longitude.
You could always choose one arbitrarily, and estimate one's longitude based on the rotation period of the planet.
Therefore, a gas giant map would be split up into horizontal bands, with indications of the wind directions and speeds. Actually, the map would likely be in the form of a cross section. Instead of mapping longitude against latitude, you'd have a map of altitude against latitude. The wind directions and speeds likely vary with altitude.
Unfortunately, the one dimensional data on HD 189733 b is in the longitudinal direction rather than the latitudinal direction. It suggests an estimate for the global average wind direction and speed, but it can't tell us the size and directions of the individual bands.
Rhaedas is right; it depends on what you mean by "map". My definitions is pretty broad: a vague idea of surface variations, e.g., the crude maps of the Galilean satellites that were made as far back as the '60s with visual telescopic observations. I think that can be done with telescopes only slightly more advanced than the ones we're flying now, given sufficient occulting technology and sensitive enough detectors; perhaps Darwin or its immediate successor will be able to map albedo variations on nearby planets through their rotations to give us some unique insights.