Planetary Atmospheres

Planetary Atmospheres

The Planetary Atmospheres team at the University of Leicester specialises in the exploration of the origins, evolution, dynamics and chemistry of the four giant planets of our Solar System.  This research forms part of the wider Planetary Science community at Leicester, with interests ranging from planetary surfaces to ionospheres and magnetospheres.

What we do:


Our research activities fall into three categories:

  1. Acquisition of remote sensing observations from sophisticated interplanetary spacecraft and world-leading ground- and space-based observatories to track the ever-changing atmospheres of the giants.
  2. Analysis of spectroscopic data to determine the thermal structure, composition, cloud properties and winds that shape the appearance of planetary atmospheres.
  3. Interpretation of these measurements via use of meteorological, chemical, climatological and planetary formation models and simulations.


What we use:

Members of our team have been involved in analysing data from the following facilities:

  • Spacecraft missions (Voyager, Cassini, Juno, and ultimately ESA's Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer).
  • Earth-based observatories (Very Large Telescope, Subaru Telescope, Gemini Telescopes, NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, SOFIA)
  • Space-based telescopes (Spitzer, AKARI, Herschel, Hubble Space Telescope, and ultimately the James Webb Space Telescope)


Who are we?

FundersLeicester's Planetary Atmospheres team is led by Dr. Leigh Fletcher and funded by a Royal Society University Research Fellowship, European Research Council Consolidator Grant, and STFC consolidated grant.  Current group members include:

  • Dr. Leigh Fletcher (@LeighFletcher)
  • Dr. Henrik Melin
  • Padraig Donnelly
  • Dr. Arrate Antunano Martin
  • Naomi Rowe-Gurney
  • Dr. James Blake
  • Please see here for upcoming PhD opportunities.


For more information:

Follow our twitter feeds to up-to-date discussions of new research, or visit our blogs (Planetary Wanderings and Leicester to Jupiter).

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The 2018 Ernest Rutherford Fellowships round is now open for applications. Further details on the process of applying for an ERF in the Department of Physics and Astronomy can be found here.

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