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Large Changes in Pluto’s Atmosphere Revealed by Stellar Occultations

  • Bruno Sicardy (a1), Thomas Widemann (a1), Emmanuel Lellouch (a1), Françoise Roques (a1), Eric Gendron (a1), Christian Veillet (a2), Jean-Charles Cuillandre (a2), François Colas (a3), Wolfgang Beisker (a4), Mike Kretlow (a4), Olivier R. Hainaut (a5) and Chris Lidman (a5)...

Abstract

Pluto’s tenuous nitrogen atmosphere was detected by stellar occultations in 1985 and 1988. This atmosphere is poorly known, however, due to the rarity of these events. We report here the first Pluto occultations observed since 1988, on 20 July and 21 August 2002. Our analysis reveals drastic changes undergone by the atmosphere since 1988, namely a two-fold pressure increase, the probable effect of seasonal changes on Pluto over this fourteen year interval.

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Copyright

References

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Elliot, J.L. et al. 2003, Nature 424, 165
Hansen, C.J., & Paige, D.A. 1996, Icarus, 120, 247
Sicardy, B. et al, 2003, Nature, 424, 168
Yelle, R.V., & Elliot, J.L. 1997, In Pluto and Charon, ed. Stern, S.A. & Tholen, D.J. (University of Arizona Press, 1997), 347
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Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 1539-2996
  • URL: /core/journals/proceedings-of-the-international-astronomical-union
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