Professor Patrick Irwin

Professor of Planetary Physics; Fellow of St Anne's College


Professor Irwin studies the atmospheres of other planets in our solar system. He is currently studying the gas giants, particularly Uranus and Neptune. He is also interested in exoplanets.

His group’s observations are made with interplanetary spacecraft and also ground-based telescopes, observing at infrared wavelengths where the temperature and composition of these planetary atmospheres can be determined though modelling the various radiative transfer processes. These observations are used both to understand how the different planetary atmospheres formed and also to compare the dynamical and chemical processes acting in all planetary atmospheres to gain a better insight into the atmospheric physics of the Earth’s atmosphere.

He is co-investigator on a number of spacecraft missions, such as Cassini/CIRS, Venus Express/VIRTIS and the ESA Rosetta/VIRTIS and is also involved with ground-based observations of the giant planets with telescopes such as IRTF, Gemini, UKIRT and VLT. 


  • Planetary physics
  • Space instrumentation (infrared observations)
  • Planets, especially giant planets
  • Mars
  • Venus
  • Exoplanets