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Lower atmosphere and pressure evolution on Pluto from ground-based stellar occultations, 1988-2016

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Meza, E and Sicardy, B and Assafin, M and Ortiz, JL and Bertrand, T and Lellouch, E and Desmars, J and Forget, F and Berard, D and Doressoundiram, A and Lecacheux, J and Oliveira, JM and Roques, F and Widemann, T and Colas, F and Vachier, F and Renner, S and Leiva, R and Braga-Ribas, F and Benedetti-Rossi, G and Camargo, JIB and Dias-Oliveira, A and Morgado, B and Gomes-Junior, AR and Vieira-Martins, R and Behrend, R and Tirado, AC and Duffard, R and Morales, N and Santos-Sanz, P and Jelinek, M and Cunniffe, R and Querel, R and Harnisch, M and Jansen, R and Pennell, A and Todd, S and Ivanov, VD and Opitom, C and Gillon, M and Jehin, E and Manfroid, J and Pollock, J and Reichart, DE and Haislip, JB and Ivarsen, KM and LaCluyze, AP and Maury, A and Gil-Hutton, R and Dhillon, V and Littlefair, S and Marsh, T and Veillet, C and Bath, K-L and Beisker, W and Bode, H-J and Kretlow, M and Herald, D and Gault, D and Kerr, S and Pavlov, H and Farago, O and Kloes, O and Frappa, E and Lavayssiere, M and Cole, AA and Giles, AB and Greenhill, JG and Hill, KM and Buie, MW and Olkin, CB and Young, EF and Young, LA and Wasserman, LH and Devogele, M and French, RG and Bianco, FB and Marchis, F and Brosch, N and Kaspi, S and Polishook, D and Manulis, I and Larbi, MM and Benkhaldoun, Z and Daassou, A and El Azhari, Y and Moulane, Y and Broughton, J and Milner, J and Dobosz, T and Bolt, G and Lade, B and Gilmore, A and Kilmartin, P and Allen, WH and Graham, PB and Loader, B and McKay, G and Talbot, J and Parker, S and Abe, L and Bendjoya, P and Rivet, J-P and Vernet, D and Di Fabrizio, L and Lorenzi, V and Magazzu, A and Molinari, E and Gazeas, K and Tzouganatos, L and Carbognani, A and Bonnoli, G and Marchini, A and Leto, G and Sanchez, RZ and Mancini, L and Kattentidt, B and Dohrmann, M and Guhl, K and Rothe, W and Walzel, K and Wortmann, G and Eberle, A and Hampf, D and Ohlert, J and Krannich, G and Murawsky, G and Gaehrken, B and Gloistein, D and Alonso, S and Roman, A and Communal, J-E and Jabet, F and deVisscher, S and Serot, J and Janik, T and Moravec, Z and Machado, P and Selva, A and Perello, C and Rovira, J and Conti, M and Papini, R and Salvaggio, F and Noschese, A and Tsamis, V and Tigani, K and Barroy, P and Irzyk, M and Neel, D and Godard, JP and Lanoiselee, D and Sogorb, P and Verilhac, D and Bretton, M and Signoret, F and Ciabattari, F and Naves, R and Boutet, M and De Queiroz, J and Lindner, P and Lindner, K and Enskonatus, P and Dangl, G and Tordai, T and Eichler, H and Hattenbach, J and Peterson, C and Molnar, LA and Howell, RR, Lower atmosphere and pressure evolution on Pluto from ground-based stellar occultations, 1988-2016, Astronomy and Astrophysics, 625 Article A42. ISSN 1432-0746 (2019) [Refereed Article]


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Copyright Statement

E. Meza et al. 2019. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

DOI: doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201834281

Abstract

Context: The tenuous nitrogen (N2) atmosphere on Pluto undergoes strong seasonal effects due to high obliquity and orbital eccentricity, and has recently (July 2015) been observed by the New Horizons spacecraft.

Aims: The main goals of this study are (i) to construct a well calibrated record of the seasonal evolution of surface pressure on Pluto and (ii) to constrain the structure of the lower atmosphere using a central flash observed in 2015.

Methods: Eleven stellar occultations by Pluto observed between 2002 and 2016 are used to retrieve atmospheric profiles (density, pressure, temperature) between altitude levels of ~5 and ~380 km (i.e. pressures from ~ 10 μbar to 10 nbar).

Results: Pressure has suffered a monotonic increase from 1988 to 2016, that is compared to a seasonal volatile transport model, from which tight constraints on a combination of albedo and emissivity of N2 ice are derived. (ii) A central flash observed on 2015 June 29 is consistent with New Horizons REX profiles, provided that (a) large diurnal temperature variations (not expected by current models) occur over Sputnik Planitia; and/or (b) hazes with tangential optical depth of ~0.3 are present at 47 km altitude levels; and/or (c) the nominal REX density values are overestimated by an implausibly large factor of ~20%; and/or (d) higher terrains block part of the flash in the Charon facing hemisphere.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:methods: observational, methods: data analysis, planets and satellites: atmospheres, techniques: photometric, planets and satellites: physical evolution, planets and satellites: terrestrial planets
Research Division:Physical Sciences
Research Group:Astronomical sciences
Research Field:Planetary science (excl. solar system and planetary geology)
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the physical sciences
UTAS Author:Cole, AA (Associate Professor Andrew Cole)
UTAS Author:Giles, AB (Dr Barry Giles)
UTAS Author:Greenhill, JG (Dr John Greenhill)
UTAS Author:Hill, KM (Dr Kym Hill)
ID Code:136328
Year Published:2019
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LE110100055)
Web of Science® Times Cited:10
Deposited By:Physics
Deposited On:2019-12-16
Last Modified:2020-06-02
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