This is the first of two guest posts from Tim Cullen on the fascinating subject of photon production in planetary atmospheres:
The concept of a “fluorescing atmosphere” is generally dismissed as cranky [or just plain crazy] by most pundits and commentators.
Therefore, I am extremely grateful to Professor Mark A. Smith and Hiroshi Imanaka for publishing a truly remarkable paper on the Geochemical Society website that clearly illustrates that photons are produced in the atmosphere.
The blue emissions are indicative of atomic hydrogen [but there are other atmospheric atomic gases that emit blue photon – such as helium] and are produced in many ways [including]:
a) Electrons colliding with atomic gas particles.
b) Solar photon colliding with atomic gas particles.
c) Atomic gas particles recombining to form molecules.
Using the Ion-Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) on Cassini, we now know that even in the ionosphere, there is a rich and complex organic chemistry unparalleled in any known atmosphere (Waite, 2005; Waite, 2009).