Luke Moore

Research Scientist
Boston University
Center for Space Physics


I am a space scientist primarily studying the upper regions of planetary atmospheres. The upper atmosphere - containing both a charged (the ionosphere) and neutral (the thermosphere) component - is the boundary between the dense meteorological atmosphere below and the vacuum of space above. It mediates the exchange of particles, energy, and momentum between these two environments and also hosts Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites. The study of planetary upper atmospheres helps us to understand the evolution of atmospheres, aiding in determination of planetary habitibility, as well as to adapt and protect the technologies that society is becoming more dependent on, such as satellite communications and positioning.

Click a topic for a quick summary of some of my current and past research projects:

back to Research

Jupiter's Great Red Spot "roars with heat"

Colleagues and I mapped the temperatures of Jupiter's upper atmosphere using spectroscopic observations from the InfraRed Telescope Facility, a 3m telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. We found something very curious: the hottest part of the upper atmosphere was directly above Jupiter's Great Red Spot! Temperatures there reach more than 2400oF, whereas the surrounding regions were relatively soothing at ~1000oF.

This work represents the first direct observational evidence of coupling between a the lower and upper atmosphere of a giant planet, and it may provide the key to solving a decades old "energy crisis" at the giant planets. The "crisis" refers to the fact that scientists don't understand how the upper atmospheres of the giant planets can be so hot: solar heating is minimal at such distances, and auroral energy inputs are sequestered at high latitude due to rapid rotation (e.g., Jupiter's day is only ~10 hr).

The most likely explanation for this localized hotspot is that acoustic waves generated by the massive storm travel upwards in altitude and deposit their energy in the thermosphere.

This exciting result generated more than 100 news stories; you can read the paper here.

James O'Donoghue is the first author on this work -- check out his page!

Art by Karen Teramura

Art by Dillon Yothers.

Peer-Reviewed Publications and Book Chapters

25. Moore, L., M. Galand, A. Kliore, A. Nagy, J. O‘Donoghue. "Saturn's Ionosphere" In: Saturn in the 21st Century , K.H. Baines, F.M. Flasar, N. Krupp, T.S. Stallard (eds.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, in press, 2016.

24. O’Donoghue, J., L. Moore, H. Melin, and T. Stallard, "Heating of Jupiter’s upper atmosphere by the Great Red Spot", Nature, doi:10.1038/nature18940, 2016.

23. Moore, L., T. Stallard, and M. Galand. "Upper atmospheres of the giant planets" In: Heliophysics: Active stars, their astrospheres, and impacts on planetary environments , C.J. Schrijver, F. Bagenal, and J.J. Sojka (eds.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 9781107090477, 2016.

22. O’Donoghue, J., H. Melin, T.S. Stallard, G. Provan, L. Moore, S.V. Badman, S.W.H. Cowley, K.H. Baines, S. Miller, and J.S.D. Blake, "Ground-based observations of Saturn’s auroral ionosphere over three days: trends in H3+ temperature, density and emission with Saturn local time and planetary period oscillation", Icarus, 263, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2015.04.018, 2016.

21. Moore, L., J. O’Donoghue, I. Müller-Wodarg, M. Galand, and M. Mendillo, "Saturn ring rain: Model estimates of water influx into Saturn’s atmosphere", Icarus, 245, 356-366, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2014.08.041, 2015.

20. O’Donoghue, J., T.S. Stallard, H. Melin, S.W.H. Cowley, S.V. Badman, L. Moore, S. Miller, C. Tao, K.H. Baines, and J.S.D. Blake, "Conjugate observations of Saturn’s northern and southern H3+ aurorae", Icarus, 229, 214-220, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2013.11.009, 2014.

19. Matta, M., M. Galand, L. Moore, M. Mendillo, and P. Withers, "Numerical simulations of ion and electron temperatures in the ionosphere of Mars: Multiple ions and diurnal variations", Icarus, 227, 78-88, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2013.09.006, 2014.

18. Withers, P., L. Moore, K. Cahoy, and I. Beerer, "How to process radio occultation data: 1. From time series of frequency residuals to vertical profiles of atmospheric and ionospheric properties", Planet. Space Sci., 101, 77-88, doi:10.1016/j.pss.2014.06.011, 2014.

17. Müller-Wodarg, I.C.F., L. Moore, M. Galand, S. Miller, and M. Mendillo, "Magnetosphere-atmosphere coupling at Saturn: 1 – Response of thermosphere and ionosphere to steady state polar forcing", Icarus, 221, 481-494, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2012.08.034, 2012.

16. Ray, L.C., M. Galand, L. Moore, and B. Fleshman, "Characterizing the limitations to magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling in Saturn’s middle magnetosphere", J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2012JA017735, 2012.

15. Moore, L., G. Fischer, I. Müller-Wodarg, M. Galand, and M. Mendillo, "Diurnal variation of electron density in Saturn’s ionosphere: Model comparisons with SEDs", Icarus, 221, 508-516, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2012.08.010, 2012.

14. Galand, M., L. Moore, I. Müller-Wodarg, M. Mendillo, and S. Miller, "Response of Saturn’s auroral ionosphere to electron precipitation: electron density, electron temperature, and electrical conductivity", J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2010JA016412, 2011.

13. Fischer, G., D.A. Gurnett, P. Zarka, L. Moore, and U.A. Dyudina, "Peak electron densities in Saturn’s ionosphere derived from the low-frequency cutoff in Saturn lightning", J. Geophys. Res., 116, A04315, doi:10.1029/2010JA016187, 2011.

12. Moore, L., I. Müller-Wodarg, M. Galand, A. Kliore, and M. Mendillo, "Latitudinal variations in Saturn’s ionosphere: Cassini measurements and model comparisons", Icarus, 245, 356-366, doi:10.1029/2010JA015692, 2010.

11. Moore, L., M. Galand, I. Müller-Wodarg, and M. Mendillo, "Response of Saturn’s ionosphere to solar radiation: Testing parameterizations for thermal electron heating and secondary ionization processes", Planetary and Space Science, 57, 14-15, 1699-1705, doi:10.1016/j.pss.2009.05.001, 2009.

10. Nagy, A.F., A.J. Kliore, M. Mendillo, S. Miller, L. Moore, J.I. Moses, I. Müller-Wodarg, and D. Shemansky, "Upper atmosphere and ionosphere of Saturn." In: Saturn from Cassini-Huygens, M.K. Dougherty, L.W. Esposito, S.M. Krimigis (eds.). New York: Springer. 181-202, ISBN: 978-1-4020-9217-6, 2009.

9. Galand, M., L. Moore, B. Charnay, I. Müller-Wodarg, and M. Mendillo, "Solar primary and secondary ionization at Saturn", J. Geophys. Res., 114, A6, A06310, doi:10.1029/2008JA013981, 2009.

8. Moore, L., M. Galand, I. Müller-Wodarg, R. Yelle, and M. Mendillo, "Plasma temperatures in Saturn’s ionosphere", J. Geophys. Res., 113, A10306, doi:10.1029/2008JA013373, 2008.

7. Smith, C., A. Aylward, G. Millward, S. Miller, and L. Moore, "An unexpected cooling effect in Saturn’s upper atmosphere", Nature, 445, 399-401, doi:10.1038/nature05518, 2007.

6. Moore, L., and M. Mendillo, "Are depletions in Saturn’s ionosphere caused by explosive surges of water from Enceladus?", Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L12202, doi:10.1029/2007GL029381, 2007.

5. Moore, L., A.F. Nagy, A.J. Kliore, I. Müller-Wodarg, J.D. Richardson, and M. Mendillo, "Cassini radio occultations of Saturn’s ionosphere: Model comparisons using a constant water flux", J. Geophys. Res., 111, A06307, doi:10.1029/2006GL027375, 2007.

4. Moore, L., M. Mendillo, C. Marinis, and S. Bailey, "Day-to-day variability of the E-layer", Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L22202, doi:10.1029/2005JA011448, 2006.

3. Moore, L., and M. Mendillo, "Ionospheric contribution to Saturn's inner plasmasphere", J. Geophys. Res., 110, A05310, doi:10.1029/2004JA010889, 2005.

2. Mendillo, M., L. Moore, J. Clarke, I. Müller-Wodarg, W.S. Kurth and M.L. Kaiser, "Effects of ring shadowing on the detection of electrostatic discharges at Saturn", Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L05107, doi:10.1029/2004GL021934, 2005.

1. Moore, L., M. Mendillo, I.C.F. Müller-Wodarg and D.L. Murr, "Modeling of global variations and ring shadowing in Saturn’s ionosphere ", Icarus, 172, 503-520, doi:10.1029/2004JA010889, 2004.

(617) 358-3906

Luke Moore
Center for Space Physics, 402
Boston University
725 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215 USA