I have recently entered the field of planetary science as a limited-scope project which is part of my masters' degree in chemistry.

My project is going to revolve around Titan and its complex organic chemistry (atmospheric and surface-based), and naturally, most papers I've read describe heavy use of spectroscopic methods for such observations.

Now, I have a basic understanding of spectroscopy in general, but I am looking for something to read that could possibly help me bridge the gap between what I know about spectroscopy in general and the applications of spectroscopy in the field of planetary science.

Perhaps there is a recommended textbook or a chapter in a book that makes this connection? A Youtube video? An introductory text that explains the basics?

The other part of the project is to try to understand what type of features of Titan could be viewed using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). A rather comprehensive description of the JWST instrumentation is available online (e.g. here and here), but I feel that I need to become familiar with some basic concepts and terminology to fully understand it.

Now, obviously it would be best to take courses and actually study it seriously because there is A LOT to learn, but right now I'm trying to get an overview of what could JWST see best on Titan. I studied Titan for the past couple of weeks, and now I would like to get better acquainted with the observation methods.

  • $\begingroup$ I know what you are saying is basically true, but since I am not familiar with the field, I was wondering if there was some generally-accepted text that is widely known (i.e. something that several professional would agree on) . I have seen this kind of question getting answered on other SE sites, so decided to try my luck too... As for specifics, I'm not sure what to ask because I feel like I'm missing some basics before I can even ask about things I don't understand, because this might be covered in an introductory text, and so I'd hate to waste people's time on trivial things. $\endgroup$
    – Don_S
    Mar 5, 2018 at 6:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ See edit above. $\endgroup$
    – Don_S
    Mar 5, 2018 at 6:32
  • $\begingroup$ It looks much better, thanks! I'm not an expert but I will try to post a helpful answer, and hopefully others may as well. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 5, 2018 at 9:49

1 Answer 1


I think there are relevant techniques to learn here from the terrestrial remote sensing community.

Observations in reflected, scattered and transmitted light have all their own difficulties, and those will surely be applicable to JWST observations as well.

There is an open source book from the University of Heidelberg in Germany, see here, where probably chapters 3 and 4 would be relevant for you. Chapter 2 establishes all the basics of light emission, but might be useful due to a different use of language than you're used to.

Of course one could probably find a similar resource for atmospheric studies of Mars and Titan, but I think the terrestrial case is the best-developed one. As far as I'm aware there is no reason why JWST observations of Titan would inherently be different to the techniques presented in the above resource.


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