Dr Barstow has researched the Venusian lower cloud deck, which is made of concentrated sulphuric acid droplets. Venus is a planet under permanent cloud cover, and a good understanding of the cloud properties is essential for the correct interpretation of remote sensing data. Her research mapped the variation in acid concentration across the night-side southern hemisphere of the planet.
Her current research applies the same techniques to the atmospheres of planets outside our solar system. When extrasolar planets cross ('transit') in front of their parent stars, the observed reduction in starlight at different wavelengths can be used to determine properties of their atmospheres. Dr Barstow calculates the visible and infrared spectra we would expect to observe for a range of planet sizes, temperatures and atmospheric compositions. We may then be able to work out the composition of the atmosphere of extrasolar planets using observations from space telescopes.
- Extrasolar planets
Dr Barstow has considerable media experience, including both print and broadcast.