NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2009A-0372

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Proposal Information for 2009A-0372


PI: Jason C. Cook, Southwest Research Institute, jccook@boulder.swri.edu
Address: Department of Space Studies, 1050 Walnut St., Suite 300, Boulder, CO 80302, USA

CoI: Cathy B. Olkin, Southwest Research Institute
CoI: Leslie A. Young, Southwest Research Institute

Title: Searching for Gaseous CO in Pluto's Atmosphere

Abstract: We propose a spectroscopic program to determine the abundance of CO in the atmosphere of Pluto using Gemini South/Phoenix. Understanding the abundance of CO in Pluto's atmospheric is vital for three reasons: (i) the amount of CO helps us to understand the physics of multi- component volatile transfer, (ii) CO is expected to be the dominant cooling species in Pluto's atmosphere and (iii) the CO mole fraction is an unconstrained parameter in all atmospheric models based on occultations data. Since the first Pluto occultation in 1988, occultations have shown Pluto's atmosphere is undergoing changes consistent with an expanding atmosphere and a greater surface pressure (Elliot et al., 2003, 2007). At this time, it is vital that we establish a baseline measurement of atmospheric CO before the arrival of \emphNew Horizons in 2015 to understand the changes going on in Pluto's atmosphere.


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