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Pluto in Glory: Discovery of Its Huge Opposition Surge

Buratti, B. J. and Hicks, M. D. and Kramer, E. and Bauer, J. and Ciardi, D. R. and Lund, M. B. and Lawrence, K. J. (2021) Pluto in Glory: Discovery of Its Huge Opposition Surge. Geophysical Research Letters, 48 (12). Art. No. e2021GL092562. ISSN 0094-8276. doi:10.1029/2021gl092562.

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Near-infrared observations of the Pluto Charon system were captured with the Palomar High Angular Resolution Observer (PHARO) adaptive optics (AO) system on the 200-inch Hale telescope during the historically small solar phase angles in 2018–2019. Both objects exhibit large opposition surges of ∼30%–35% in the last half degree of solar phase angle, which is among the largest observed for icy moons and other Kuiper Belt Objects. In addition, Pluto's surge is exceptionally steep. Pluto's unusual phase curve may be due to an unusual surface texture caused by seasonal volatile transport and active geologic processes. These observations enable accurate determination of Pluto's geometric albedo in the JHK filter system, which we find to be 0.86 ± 0.04, 0.59 ± 0.05, and 0.39 ± 0.04 for Pluto, respectively, and 0.68 ± 0.06 for Charon in the J filter.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Buratti, B. J.0000-0002-5901-4875
Kramer, E.0000-0003-0457-2519
Bauer, J.0000-0001-9542-0953
Ciardi, D. R.0000-0002-5741-3047
Lund, M. B.0000-0003-2527-1598
Additional Information:© 2021 American Geophysical Union. Issue Online: 14 June 2021; Version of Record online: 14 June 2021; Accepted manuscript online: 08 June 2021; Manuscript accepted: 07 April 2021; Manuscript revised: 31 March 2021; Manuscript received: 26 January 2021. This research was funded by the NASA Solar System Observations Program and the JPL Fellows Program, and carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The authors appreciate the support of the Palomar Time Allocation Committee, especially Michael Werner and Robert Brucato, who agreeably accommodated our difficult scheduling requests, and to the Palomar Observatory staff, especially Rick Burress, Carolyn Heffner, and Kajsa Peffer. Data Availability Statement: The astronomical images obtained for this study are in the process of being archived in the Planetary Data System Small Bodies Node at doi:10.26007/feev-qn61.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:Charon; Kuiper belt objects; New Horizons; Opposition surge; Pluto
Issue or Number:12
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210610-143817647
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Official Citation:Buratti, B. J., Hicks, M. D., Kramer, E., Bauer, J., Ciardi, D. R., Lund, M. B., & Lawrence, K. J. (2021). Pluto in glory: Discovery of its huge opposition surge. Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2021GL092562.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:109472
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:10 Jun 2021 21:55
Last Modified:28 Jun 2021 18:29

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