Workshop: Determining the Interior Structure of Uranus - A Case Study for Leveraging Cross-Discipline Science to Answer Tough Questions

September 11 - 15, 2023
California Institute of Technology - Pasadena, CA 91125


Workshop Overview:

This Study Program will bring together theorists, observers, experimentalists, and mission architects to draft an innovative yet practical plan for determining the interior structure of Uranus. This Study will lead to a fully integrated approach, crossing scientific and engineering disciplines, to overcome the traditional limitations of determining a giant planet's interior structure.

Understanding the internal structure and composition of planets in our solar system is critical for understanding their origin and evolution. This knowledge is also important for characterizing exoplanets for which we may only know their mass and radius. As a result, determining these properties of Uranus is a high-priority objective for the Uranus Flagship mission recommended by the recently released Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey. Unfortunately, the internal structure of planets cannot be measured directly. Instead, it is inferred from various measurements, typically gravity, magnetic field, and, at Saturn, ring seismology. Bulk composition also comes from the gravity data and measurements of the atmosphere. For both composition and internal structure, however, the indirect nature of the measurements and theoretical uncertainties prevent convergence on a unique solution.

To address our goal of determining the interior structure of Uranus, we will produce an integrated plan that outlines a series of calculations together with observations that, if implemented, will be able to discriminate among competing models for Uranus's interior structure. That plan will likely include:

  • Recommended laboratory measurements of Equations of State and of the optical, thermal, and physical properties of key species and compounds.
  • Identification of important dynamical, chemical, and condensation processes not accounted for in current atmospheric models.
  • Identification of discriminators of Uranus formation models that might be found on other bodies (e.g., the composition of outer solar system small bodies).
  • Identification of what measurements of the Uranus system to make, and how to make them, in order to discriminate among competing interior models.

The workshop's final product will be a mutually-supporting list of experiments, models, and observations that will best determine Uranus's interior structure and bulk composition.

Schedule coming soon...

List of Workshop Participants Coming Soon...

Lodging for out-of-town attendees

There are a number of hotels that are close to the Caltech campus where we have a negotiated rate. (Please note that this negotiated rate does not guarantee you the lowest rate as there may be internet specials or AAA rates that may be better.)

Please note that with enough notice, you can reserve rooms for attendees at the Athenaeum, which has been recognized as a Platinum Club of America. Newly refurbished, it is conveniently located on the Caltech Campus. Contact Janet Seid if you would like to check the availability of this option.

Visa Requirements

For Visa requirement information and travel to the United States please visit the website of the U.S. Department of State.

Parking (for Visitors and for JPL Personnel)

For Visitors: From the Arroyo Parkway, turn right (east) on Del Mar Avenue. Proceed approximately one and a quarter miles. The Caltech campus will be on your right. Turn right (south) onto Wilson Avenue. Turn right into the North Wilson Structure and park in an unmarked spot. Buy a parking permit from the kiosk located inside the North Wilson Structure or request one ahead of time from KISS.

For JPL Personnel: JPLers may use their JPL hang tag for parking or request a special parking hangtag from the JPL parking office. Employees who do not have on-Lab parking privileges can obtain a hang tag created for this purpose from JPL parking coordinator Robert Kennedy (818-354-4586, Building 310-108B, 9/80 schedule). Please park in an unmarked spot in the North Wilson Structure located on Wilson Avenue.

Maps and General Information on Pasadena