The Center for Atmospheric Sciences | » Kunio M. Sayanagi

    • Ph.D., Physics with Minor in Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona, 2007

    • M.S., Physics, University of Arizona, 2004

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      Recent News:

      March 24, 2017 : NASA selects Professor Sayanagi to Lead Uranus Probe Mission Concept Study

      Hampton University Press Release HAMPTON, Va. — A planetary probe mission concept study proposed by a team led by Hampton University assistant professor of Planetary Science, Dr. Kunio Sayanagi, has been selected for funding by NASA. The Small Next-generation Atmospheric Probe (SNAP) team will receive $435,000 from NASA to examine the advantages, cost, and risk […]

      June 10, 2016 : APS Scientists Observe Mercury Transit with the Public

      On May 9th, 2016, a special celestial event occurred when the planet Mercury lined up exactly with the Sun in the sky as viewed from the Earth. In Hampton, Mercury began to cross the disk of the Sun shortly after sunrise at 7:20am and spent a leisurely seven hours making a sharp, round shadow on […]

      October 23, 2015 : APS Professor Moore Hosts Astronomy Night Event

      The White House announced earlier this year that October 19th of this year was going to be the National Astronomy Night, and invited professional scientists and amateur astronomers to host events around the country.  The goal is to expand access to STEM experiences for the next generation of scientists, engineers, and inventors.  The White House […]

      September 29, 2015 : APS Prof. Sayanagi Captures Lunar Eclipse

      APS Assistant Professor Kunio Sayanagi photographed the total lunar eclipse on September 27, 2015 from his home on Fort Monroe.  A lunar eclipse happens twice a year, so that is not a rare event but this lunar eclipse was unusual that the eclipse happened when the moon was near perigee in its orbit, which means […]

      August 6, 2015 : Grad Student John Blalock wins NASA Fellowship

      BIG Congratulations to Planetary Science PhD student John Blalock, who has won a prestigious NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship to support his doctoral dissertation research! John’s winning research proposal was titled “Measurement of Seasonal Changes in Saturn’s Zonal Wind Profile using Cassini ISS images,” in which he proposed to examine images of Saturn collected […]

  • Kunio M. Sayanagi



    Dr. Sayanagi’s research interests encompass a wide range of topics in planetary atmospheres.

    His research activities can be categorized into three rough areas; Atmospheric Dynamics, Planetary Imaging Science, and Measurement Method Developments.

    Dr. Sayanagi studies atmospheric dynamics by numerically modeling atmospheric features such as jetstreams, vortices and waves.  He uses the EPIC Atmosphere Model to perform numerical experiments.

    Jet Formation Mechanism on Giant Planets (mpeg movie)

    Second, he analyzes images returned from space probes to analyze clouds; in particular, as an Affiliate Member of Cassini Mission‘s Imaging Science Subsystem Team, he analyzes the images returned from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft to study the motions and properties of clouds on Saturn. Third, he develops measurement methods and image processing techniques to improve and enable new analysis of images returned from space missions.

    Interview Video:


    Sayanagi, K.M., Dyudina, U.A., Ewald, S.P., and Ingersoll, A.P., 2017. “Cassini ISS Observation of Saturn’s North Polar Vortex and Comparison to the South Polar Vortex.” Icarus Vol 285, p.68-82. (Download)

    Sanchez-Lavega, A., Fischer, G., Fletcher, L.N., Garcia-Melendo, E., Hesman, B., Perez-Hoyos, S., Sayanagi, K.M., and Sromovsky, L.A., 2016, “Great Saturn Storm of 2010-2011” Chapter to be published in: Saturn in the 21st Century, Cambridge Univ. Press. Accepted, in Press (Preprint Available at arXiv)

    Sayanagi, K.M., Baines, K.H., Dyudina, U.A., Fletcher, L.N., Sanchez-Lavega, A., West, R.A., 2016, “Saturn’s Polar Atmosphere” Chapter to be published in: Saturn in the 21st Century, Cambridge Univ. Press. Accepted, In Press) (Preprint Available at arXiv)

    Cosentino, R.G., Simon, A.A., Morales-Juberias R., Sayanagi, K.M. 2015. “Observations and Numerical Modelling of the Jovian Ribbon,” Astrophysical Journal Letters 810, L10. (Download)

    Morales-Juberías, R., Sayanagi, K. M., Simon, A. A., Fletcher, L. N., Cosentino, R. G. 2015, “Meandering Shallow Atmospheric Jet as a Model of Saturn’s North-polar Hexagon,” Astrophysical Journal Letters 806, L18. (Download)

    de Pater, I., Sromovsky, L.A., Fry, P.M., Hammel, H.B., Baranec, C. and Sayanagi, K.M., 2015, “Record-breaking storm activity on Uranus in 2014”, Icarus, Vol 252, p.121–128 (Download)

    Fischer, G., Ye, S.-Y., Groene, J. B., Ingersoll, A. P., Sayanagi, K. M., Menietti, J. D., Kurth, W. S., and Gurnett, D. A., 2014, “A possible influence of the Great White Spot on Saturn kilometric radiation periodicity”, Annales Geophysicae, Vol 32, p.1463-1476. (Download)

    Arridge, C.S., et al., 2014, “The science case for an orbital mission to Uranus: Exploring the origins and evolution of ice giant planets,Planetary and Space Science, Vol 104, p.122-140. (Download)

    Sayanagi, K.M., Dyudina, U.A., Ewald, S.P., Muro, G.D., and Ingersoll, A.P., 2014. “Cassini ISS Observation of Saturn’s String of PearlsIcarus, Vol 229, p.170-180. (Download)

    Sayanagi, K.M., and 8 co-authors, 2013, “Dynamics of Saturn’s Great Storm of 2010-2011 from Cassini ISS and RPWSIcarus, 223, p. 460-478. (Download)

    Diniega, S., Sayanagi, K.M. and 18 co-authors. 2013 “Mission to the Trojan Asteroids: lessons learned during a JPL Planetary Science Summer School Mission Design Exercise,” Planetary and Space Science, 76, p. 68-82 (Download)

    Christophe, B. et al., 2012, “OSS: an Outer Solar System Mission towards Neptune, Triton and KBOExperimental Astronomy, 34, pp.203-242 (Download)

    Barnes, J.W. et al., 2012, “AVIATR – Aerial Vehicle for In-Situ and Airborne Titan Reconnaissance” to Experimental Astronomy Vol. 33, p.55-127 (Download)

    Squyres, S. et al., 2011, “Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022.” Committee on the Planetary Science Decadal Survey, Space Studies Board, National Academies. (Download)

    Arridge. C.S. et al., 2011, “Uranus Pathfinder: Exploring the Origins and Evolution of Ice Giant PlanetsExperimental Astronomy, Vol.33, pp. 753-791 (Download)

    Morales-Juberias, R., Sayanagi, K. M., Ingersoll, A. P. and Dowling, T. E., 2011. “Emergence of Polar-Jet Polygons from Jet Instabilities in a Saturn ModelIcarus. Vol. 211, Issue 2, p. 1284-1293 (Download)

    Sayanagi, K. M., Morales-Juberias, R., and Ingersoll, A. P., 2010, “Saturn’s Northern Hemisphere Ribbon: Simulations and Comparison with the Meandering Gulf StreamJournal of Atmospheric Sciences. Vol. 67, Issue 8, p.2658-2678 (Download)

    Sayanagi, K. M., Showman, A. P. and Dowling, T. E., 2008, “The emergence of multiple robust zonal jets from freely evolving, three-dimensional stratified geostrophic turbulence with applications to Jupiter.” Journal of Atmospheric Sciences. Vol. 65, Issue 12, p.3947–3962. (Download)

    Sayanagi, K.M., 2008, “Under Jupiter’s Pulsing Skin,” Nature, Volume 451, Issue 7177, p. 409-410 (Download)

    Sayanagi, K.M. and Showman, A.P. 2007, “Effects of a Large Convective Storm on Saturn’s Equatorial Jet,” Icarus, Volume 187, Issue 2, p. 520-539 (Download)



    Project: Seasonl Analysis of Zonal Winds and Vertical Wind Shear on Saturn from Cassini ISS Images

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    We are working on a project to calculate global mean zonal wind profiles for different altitudes in Saturn’s lower atmosphere using Cassini ISS images captured using the continuum band (CB) and methane absorption (MT) filters between 2004 and 2013. Specifically, I utilize the CB2 (750 nm), MT2 (727 nm), and MT3 (889 nm) filters for […]

    Project: HBCU-RISE Hampton University: Advanced Physical Modeling and Simulation for 21st Century Scientists

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    3D Torus

    From weather prediction to medical imaging to nuclear physics, numerical modeling and simulation have become central to the way we investigate and manipulate the physical world. Building on Hampton University’s expertise in Atmospheric Remote Sensing and Planetary Physics, the objective of the proposed project is to develop a complementary modeling and data analysis capability through […]

    Project: The Living, Breathing Planet

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    The Living, Breathing Planet

    Graduate student opportunities available now! More information here. Hampton University Department of Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences has been selected to lead a team within the Nexus for Exoplanet Systems Science (NExSS). As one of 17 teams, we work to advance NASA’s search for life by bringing together Planetary Science, Heliophysics, Astrophysics, and Astrobiology to deepen […]

    Project: Analysis of Venusian Zonal Winds Using Venus Express Data

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    We measure the zonal mean wind structure of Venus between 2006 and 2013 in the ultraviolet images captured by the Venus Monitoring Camera (VMC) onboard the ESA Venus Express (VEx) spacecraft which observed Venus’s southern hemisphere. Our wind measurements employ a digital two-dimensional Correlation Imaging Velocimetry (CIV) method to track cloud motions. Our current focus is on understanding […]