Haze in Pluto's atmosphere: Results from SOFIA and ground-based observations of the 2015 June 29 Pluto occultation
On UT 29 June 2015, the occultation by Pluto of a bright star (r‧ = 11.9) was observed from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) and several ground-based stations in New Zealand and Australia. Pre-event astrometry allowed for an in-flight update to the SOFIA team with the result that SOFIA was deep within the central flash zone (~22 km from center). Analysis of the combined data leads to the result that Pluto's middle atmosphere is essentially unchanged from 2011 and 2013 (Person et al. 2013; Bosh et al. 2015); there has been no significant expansion or contraction of the atmosphere. Additionally, our multi-wavelength observations allow us to conclude that a haze component in the atmosphere is required to reproduce the light curves obtained. This haze scenario has implications for understanding the photochemistry of Pluto's atmosphere.
- Pub Date:
- March 2021
- Earth Science