Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research
Observation of the solar system from stratospheric platforms in the far infrared
Observations of the solar system in the submm wave / far infrared range can be performed from ground, airplane and satellite. ALMA provided recently a number of exciting science results, e.g. related to the outer planets, their satellites and Pluto. A detection of phosphine in Venus’ atmosphere was controversially discussed recently. Herschel provided unique data on the outer planets, the Enceladus water torus and comets, including the first D/H measurement in a comet of the Jupiter family. The Submillimetre Wave Instrument will be launched in 2022 and investigate planetary atmospheres during several flybys on its way to the Jupiter system (and potentially search for phosphine in Venus’s atmosphere with 3 orders of magnitude higher sensitivity than ALMA). Herschel stopped operation in 2013 and no alternative platform is presently operational in space, although FIR astronomers try very hard to change this situation (OST, Millimetron, The European FIR Space Roadmap, numerous proposals presently under preparation). Stratospheric platforms like SOFIA or balloon borne telescopes can help to fill this gap. This presentation will provide examples on the strengths of stratospheric platforms for solar system observations.