I graduated in Physics at the University of Granada (Spain), in 1990. That year I was accepted as a student in the Group of Planetary Atmospheres (the now called Solar System Department) of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, (IAA-CSIC), under the supervision of Fernando Moreno and Antonio Molina, who guided my work on radiative transfer in conditions of multiple scattering in the visible and nearIR that led to my thesis. In the summer of 1990 I was a summer research fellow at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), where I did mostly 2-dimensional spectroscopic data reduction and Infrared photometry reduction of Planetary Nebulae.
I got my PhD degree in Physics from the University of Granada in 1994, with a dissertation entitled "Vertical cloud structure in Jupiter and Saturn based on CCD spectrophotometry in the 0.6 to 0.95 microns range". Afterwards I spent two years of postdoctoral research at NASA/JPL in Pasadena, California, working for Glenn Orton's group at the Earth and Planetary Sciences division. The topics I worked on were the collision of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter and the ground-based support of the Galileo Mission .
From 1997 to 2000 I was a research fellow at the IAA. I continued working on jovian planets and also worked on comets and impacts.
Since 2000 I am a permanent staff scientist at IAA.
Some of my research highlights (in chronological order) are:
- Application of pioneering high spatial resolution ground-based CCD and nearIR planetary imaging (mainly at methane bands ) to derive cloud and aerosol structures at different locations of Jupiter and Saturn with the application of radiative transfer models specifically developed to analyse methane-band images. Worth mentioning is the discovery of impressive changes in methane absorption and other properties at the equatorial regions of Saturn from 1991 to 1992, interpreted as remarkable cloud thickenings at those latitudes at pressure levels higher than 70 mbar from 1991 to 1992. Other interesting issues were the extensive coverage of the jovian 1993 South Equatorial Belt (SEB) revival. These investigations have resulted in a number of papers, and some other findings not yet published in international journals are compiled (in spanish) in my thesis.
- Investigation of the collision of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter in July 1994 from Calar Alto, Spain. As the jovian expert of the Calar Alto Observing team I was responsible for the observational strategy that allowed the first detection of the collision of the first comet fragment, which was reported through the internet using the so-called "SL9exploder". This had a profound impact on the scientific community. The wealth of data that we obtained allowed the Calar Alto team to focus on several topics concerning the impact physics. This has resulted in a number of very interesting papers.
- Characterization of the Galileo-Probe entry site in Jupiter, an investigation that got the cover of the Journal "Science" in May 10, 1996. In this investigation we determined basic atmospheric properties of the probe entry site and determined that the coordinates of probe entry corresponded to the southern edge of an atmospheric feature that we refer to as "5-micron hot spot". 5-micron hot spots have unique properties that could explain some of the striking results of the probe instruments.
- Characterization of the dynamics and recurrence of the jovian 5-micron hot spots and other jovian features that has allowed succesful remote sensing observations of these features by the intruments on board the Galileo orbiter. You can take a look at some of the astonishing images taken by the Galileo orbiter solid state imager : A 5-micron hot spot in the visible , The Great Red Spot and a 5-micron hot spot by the near infrared mapping spectrometer on board Galileo, as well as from the ground.
- Explanation of the jovian 5-micron hot spots in terms of planetary waves (Rossby waves in this particular case).
- Different contributions to the analysis and modeling of cometary nuclei physical properties, specially those related to rotation parameters and their interplay with water vapor production rates. This has resulted in several papers listed in the publications list.
- Detection and analysis of light flashes on the Moon from impacts of small cometary fragments as well as collision rates implied for the Earth. A publication in the Journal Nature resulted from these investigations.
- Determination of various physical properties of several Transneptunian Objects.
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