Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Conference papers

Probing Pluto's Underworld : Predicted Ice Temperatures from Microwave Radiometry Decoupled from Surface Conditions

Abstract : The Pluto dwarf planet has been successfully observed in July 2015 by the New Horizons spacecraft (NASA) during a close-targeted flyby which reavealed surprising and fascinating landscapes. While data are still being downlinked on the ground, we propose to present a prediction of the observation of the Radio Science Experiment experiment (REX) that occured on July 14, 2015 and aimed at measuring the microwave brightness temperature of Pluto’s night side.Present models admit a wide range of 2015 surface conditions at Pluto and Charon, where the atmospheric pressure may undergo dramatic seasonal variation and for which measurements have been performed by the New Horizons mission. One anticipated observation is the microwave brightness temperature, heretofore anticipated as indicating surface conditions relevant to surface-atmosphere equilibrium. However, drawing on recent experience with Cassini observations at Iapetus and Titan, we call attention to the large electrical skin depth of outer solar system materials such as methane, nitrogen or water ice, such that this observation may indicate temperatures averaged over depths of several or tens of meters beneath the surface.Using a seasonally-forced thermal model to determine microwave emission we predict that the southern hemisphere observations (in the polar night in July 2015) of New Horizons should display relatively warm effective temperatures of about 40 K. This would reflect the deep heat buried over the last century of summer, even if the atmospheric pressure suggests that the surface nitrogen frost point may be much lower. We will present our predictions and discuss their impact for the interpretation of the REX measurements.
Complete list of metadata
Contributor : Catherine Cardon Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 8:04:09 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 17, 2021 - 12:29:14 PM



Alice Le Gall, Ralph Lorenz, Cedric Leyrat. Probing Pluto's Underworld : Predicted Ice Temperatures from Microwave Radiometry Decoupled from Surface Conditions. 47th DPS Annual Meeting, Nov 2015, Washingtonh, United States. pp.210.07. ⟨insu-01233891⟩



Record views