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8/29/2013 Time variability of Pluto’s atmosphere

Published on May 24, 2013

Speaker:Leslie Young (SwRI)
Location:SPSC W120

Seminar Abstract:

With large orbital eccentricity and  tilted spin axis we expect Pluto to have extreme seasons
with substantial transport of volatiles between hemispheres.  Pluto’s thin atmosphere transports frozen volatiles from areas of high insolation to areas of low insolation. The N2-rich atmosphere is in equilibrium with the frozen N2 on the surface; as the N2-rich volatiles warm up or cool down, the overall atmospheric pressure increases or decreases, and volatiles migrate over the surface.  I have developed a new, very rapid, 3-dimensional volatile transport model, VT3D, that calculates temperatures as a function of latitude, longitude, and depth.  With this new model, it is possible to run large parameter-space searches on Pluto’s seasonal volatile transport.  I will discuss the VT3D model, the results of the parameter-space search, and new constraints from this year’s observations of Pluto.