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Pluto's haze as a surface material

Grundy, W. M. and Gao, P. and Wong, M. L. (2018) Pluto's haze as a surface material. Icarus, 314 . pp. 232-245. ISSN 0019-1035.

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Pluto's atmospheric haze settles out rapidly compared with geological timescales. It needs to be accounted for as a surface material, distinct from Pluto's icy bedrock and from the volatile ices that migrate via sublimation and condensation on seasonal timescales. This paper explores how a steady supply of atmospheric haze might affect three distinct provinces on Pluto. We pose the question of why they each look so different from one another if the same haze material is settling out onto all of them. Cthulhu is a more ancient region with comparatively little present-day geological activity, where the haze appears to simply accumulate over time. Sputnik Planitia is a very active region where glacial convection, as well as sublimation and condensation rapidly refresh the surface, hiding recently deposited haze from view. Lowell Regio is a region of intermediate age featuring very distinct coloration from the rest of Pluto. Using a simple model haze particle as a colorant, we are not able to match the colors in both Lowell Regio and Cthulhu. To account for their distinct colors, we propose that after arrival at Pluto's surface, haze particles may be less inert than might be supposed from the low surface temperatures. They must either interact with local materials and environments to produce distinct products in different regions, or else the supply of haze must be non-uniform in time and/or location, such that different products are delivered to different places.

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Additional Information:© 2018 Elsevier Inc. Received 21 August 2017, Revised 29 April 2018, Accepted 23 May 2018, Available online 11 June 2018. This work was supported in part by NASA's New Horizons project. We gratefully thank NASA and the entire New Horizons team for their hard work leading to a spectacularly successful Pluto system encounter. B. Schmitt and E. Quirico acknowledge France's Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) for its financial support through its “Système Solaire” program. Finally, we thank the free and open source software communities for empowering us with key tools used to complete this project, notably Linux, the GNU tools, LibreOffice, MariaDB, ISIS3, QGIS, Evolution, Python, the Astronomy User's Library, and FVWM.
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Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Pluto; Pluto, surface; Pluto, atmosphere; Geological processes; Ices; Photochemistry
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180622-075822280
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Official Citation:W.M. Grundy, T. Bertrand, R.P. Binzel, M.W. Buie, B.J. Buratti, A.F. Cheng, J.C. Cook, D.P. Cruikshank, S.L. Devins, C.M. Dalle Ore, A.M. Earle, K. Ennico, F. Forget, P. Gao, G.R. Gladstone, C.J.A. Howett, D.E. Jennings, J.A. Kammer, T.R. Lauer, I.R. Linscott, C.M. Lisse, A.W. Lunsford, W.B. McKinnon, C.B. Olkin, A.H. Parker, S. Protopapa, E. Quirico, D.C. Reuter, B. Schmitt, K.N. Singer, J.A. Spencer, S.A. Stern, D.F. Strobel, M.E. Summers, H.A. Weaver, G.E. Weigle II, M.L. Wong, E.F. Young, L.A. Young, X. Zhang, Pluto's haze as a surface material, Icarus, Volume 314, 1 November 2018, Pages 232-245, ISSN 0019-1035, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:87305
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:22 Jun 2018 21:38
Last Modified:22 Jun 2018 21:38

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