NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2014A-0272

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Proposal Information for 2014A-0272


PI: Dale P. Cruikshank, NASA Ames Research Center, Dale.P.Cruikshank@nasa.gov
Address: Astrophysics Branch, MS 245-6, Moffett Field, CA 94035, US

CoI: Noemi Pinilla-Alonso, Univ. Tennessee, Knoxville
CoI: Richard P. Binzel, Mass. Inst. Technology

Title: Rotationally resolved spectrum of Pluto, ices and non-ice surface constituents

Abstract: We propose to obtain the first ever high-precision spectra of Pluto in the region 0.3 to 0.9 nm at several disk-averaged positions on the planet's surface. This region includes three methane ice bands and gives a quantitative measure of the color of the surface that can be modeled with the Hapke radiative transfer code. The ice composition of Pluto is well known, but there is a neglected non-ice component probably consisting of complex organic material derived from irradiation of the ices. Data obtained here will be modeled with Pluto-specific organic residues of known composition currently being produced in the laboratory. Pluto has a heterogeneous surface; the surface colors and ice distribution are changing at the present time. The requested data are very important in deriving full benefit of data from the NASA New Horizons spacecraft, which flies by the Pluto system in July, 2015. This proposal is part of an international effort to obtain complementary Earth-based data for integration with spacecraft results over the several months up to and including the encounter.


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NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2014A-0272

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