Ulyana Dyudina

Affiliate Research Scientist
Pasadena, CA


Ph.D., Planetary Science, 2002, Caltech
B.S., M.S., Physics 1993, Moscow State University, Russia

I am fascinated by the discovery of new and unexpected mechanisms driving planetary atmospheres. I approach this goal by analyzing spacecraft images and by constructing models to test against the data.

I focus my research on four subjects:

  1. reflected light curves of extrasolar giant planets using the Solar System as an example,
  2. thunderstorms, lightning, and clouds on giant planets and the Earth, and their role in the atmospheric dynamics and the thermal history of the planet;
  3. aurora on giant planets and its connections to magnetospheres and upper atmospheres;
  4. polar vortices on Saturn and other giant planets;

My contributions to Solar System observations include detection of optical lightning on Saturn in Cassini spacecraft images, detection of visible-wavelength aurora on Saturn, and detection of "hurricane eye" structure in the Saturn's polar vortex. My major contributions to modeling include a Monte Carlo 3-D light scattering model for lightning seen through diffuse clouds. Another modeling contribution is a ray-tracing model for a planet with semi-transparent rings, representing Saturn or an extrasolar planet. I used this model to construct the planet's light curve.