Juan Lora wins Harold C. Urey Prize for planetary science research

On Titan, the atmosphere is more densely packed with methane than the surface of the planet, which corresponds to more water molecules condensed in the atmosphere than in the ocean on Earth. The 2022 Harold C. Urey Prize in Planetary Science has been awarded to Juan Lora, an assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences, for his research on these types of atmospheric phenomena. Last month, Lora received the honor from the American Astronomical Society, which honors leadership and "exceptional achievements" by a young scientist. The largest moon of Saturn, Titan, has been a focus of Lora's research. According to Lore, the surprise is pretty great. The first time I attended the Urey Prize talk is something I still recall. It's kind of fantastic to be in a position to give this lecture at this point. The Earth's paleoclimates and Titan's atmosphere have been the focus of Lora's study since he joined Yale's faculty in January 2019. His lab has used numerical climate models to study a range of weather-related phenomena that occur on terrestrial bodies all around the solar system. Juan is a lucky hire for Yale, according to J. Michael Battalio, a postdoc in Lora's lab. Lora focuses on the phenomenon of atmospheric rivers, which are frequently responsible for significant precipitation occurrences. Atmospheric rivers are long, thin columns of air that carry moisture from the tropics. Serena Scholz, a first-year postdoctoral student in Lora's lab, highlighted that his research on these water dynamics has aided in tracking historical changes in Earth's hydroclimate. While some of Lora's research has benefited the earth sciences community, his explorations into space have also been part of his research. Lora initially intended to study astronomy in college, but as he advanced in his studies, he narrowed his concentration to Titan in particular. During that period, he wrote and coded the Titan Atmospheric Model, which, in the words of Battalio, is one of the "most developed, most trustworthy climate models that we titan, the only other terrestrial planet in the solar system with a steady body of liquid, has been the focus of atmospheric research led by Lora, Lore said that In essence, we seek to comprehend Titan's climate, atmosphere, and interactions between the surface and atmosphere. To accomplish this, Lora's group has investigated a variety of topics, including the amount of methane precipitation and the location of storms on Titan. Crucial information about Titan's atmosphere's methane saturation can be found in a few of the lab's most recent publications. One such work examined a dynamic collection of jet stream motions, most often referred to as Rossby waves, that were produced by storms that lasted months on Titan. While noting that "it's all about the same types of physics, maybe working in somewhat different situations or slightly different ways," Lora commends his lab's collaborative, interplanetary research endeavors. The team will gain important knowledge about Earth by investigating such a wide variety of terrestrial bodies. For instance, Lora hopes that by drawing comparisons between Titan's methane cycle and its water cycle and our own, Earth's climate change will be better understood by scientists. Lore said that Often, we may sort of draw inspiration from one to guide the other. Over the next few years, the lab's work will immediately be put to use. Dedicated to examining Titan's chemistry and habitability, NASA's Dragonfly mission in 2027 has Lora as a co-investigator. Lora's study will contribute to the mission's success right away by offering perception and forecasts of local meteorological conditions. In 1984, the inaugural Harold C. Urey Prize was given out.