WELCOME TO THE JOHNSON CLOUD LAB
Studying the atmospheres of Earth, Mars, and beyond one experiment at a time
EARTH BASED CLOUD MICROPHYSICS
We use laboratory based instrumentation to learn about the small scale processes at work in cloud formation. Our findings are used to address fundamental questions such as: What aerosols act as cloud condensation nuclei and ice nuclei? What are the ice multiplication processes at work in our atmosphere? How do cloud particles interact with radiation from the sun?
Although not as pronounced as on Earth, clouds are a common feature of the Martian atmosphere. In fact, the temperature and pressure are such that Mars is host to both water ice and carbon dioxide ice clouds. Despite the family of rovers and orbiters that have visited the red planet many questions remain about the formation pathways and conditions, climatological impacts, and interactions between clouds present in the Martian Atmosphere.
(Image courtesy of NASA/STSci)
Over the past 20+ years the field of exoplanets has boomed, uncovering thousands of planets in only a small portion of our galaxy and astronomers have begun to study the properties of these planets in amazing detail through satellite and ground based observations. Although exoplanet atmospheres have been detected the presence of clouds, hazes, and aerosols poses major challenges to their characterization. How can we learn about these atmospheres if our view is blocked by these particulates? The answer may lie in laboratory measurements of exoplanet analogs.
TRANSIENT LUNAR ATMOSPHERE