Pluto's atmospheric haze settles out rapidly compared with geological timescales. It needs to be accounted for as a surface material, distinct from Pluto's icy bedrock and from the volatile ices that migrate via sublimation and condensation on seasonal timescales. This paper explores how a steady supply of atmospheric haze might affect three distinct provinces on Pluto. We pose the question of why they each look so different from one another if the same haze material is settling out onto all of them. Cthulhu is a more ancient region with comparatively little present-day geological activity, where the haze appears to simply accumulate over time. Sputnik Planitia is a very active region where glacial convection, as well as sublimation and condensation rapidly refresh the surface, hiding recently deposited haze from view. Lowell Regio is a region of intermediate age featuring very distinct coloration from the rest of Pluto. Using a simple model haze particle as a colorant, we are not able to match the colors in both Lowell Regio and Cthulhu. To account for their distinct colors, we propose that after arrival at Pluto's surface, haze particles may be less inert than might be supposed from the low surface temperatures. They must either interact with local materials and environments to produce distinct products in different regions, or else the supply of haze must be non-uniform in time and/or location, such that different products are delivered to different places.
- Pub Date:
- November 2018
- Geological processes;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- Published in 2018 in Icarus 314, 232-245