We observed Pluto and Charon using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) interferometer in Northern Chile on June 12.2 and June 13.15, 2015, just one month prior to the New Horizons flyby of the system. The configuration of ALMA at the time provided ~0.3" resolution, allowing separation of emission from Pluto and Charon. This project targeted multiple science goals, including a search for HCN in Pluto's atmosphere  and high precision measurements of the individual brightness temperatures of Pluto and Charon , also presented at this meeting. Here we report the high SNR detection of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere of Pluto. The CO(3-2) rotational line, at 345.796 GHz (867 μm), was observed with 117 kHz spectral resolution for 45 min (on-source) on each date, providing ~3.5mJy/channel RMS. CO emission was clearly detected on both days, with a contrast of ~65 mJy above the Pluto continuum, and ~1.8 MHz FWHM linewidth, with the combined integrated line SNR >50. The presence of CO in Pluto's atmosphere is expected due to it's presence as ice on the surface in vapor pressure equilibrium with the atmosphere (e.g. ,), and it was previously detected at modest SNR in the near-IR using the VLT . A preliminary assessment based upon the CO line wings shows the fractional abundance of CO is 500-750 ppm, consistent with that found in . Further, the shape of the line core emission (assuming a constant CO mixing ratio), suggests that the atmospheric temperature rises quickly from the surface to ~100-110 K in the altitude range 20-70 km but decreases above that, falling to about 70 K by 200 km altitude. A detailed line inversion analysis will be performed and results presented. Lellouch et al, this meeting.  Butler et al., this meeting.  Owen et al (1993), Science, 261, pp. 745-748.  Spencer et al (1993), In Pluto and Charon, pp. 435-473. Univ. of Arizona Press, Tucson.  Lellouch et al (2011), A&A, 530, L4.
AAS/Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting Abstracts #47
- Pub Date:
- November 2015