NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2016B-0249

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Program Information for 2016B-0249


PI: Amanda S Bosh, MIT, asbosh@mit.edu
Address: Earth, Atmospheric, & Planetary Sciences, 77 Mass. Ave., Rm. 54-420, Cambridge, MA 02139 USA

CoI: Stephen Levine, Lowell Observatory
CoI: Michael J Person, MIT
CoI: Amanda A Sickafoose, SAAO

Title: Occultation Studies of Small Bodies in the Outer Solar System

Abstract: We will use a pair of stellar occultations by Pluto and Chariklo as probes of these bodies, with the aim of studying the atmosphere of Pluto and the rings of Chariklo. On UT 22 August 2016, the Pluto occultation will be visible from Australia. Pluto occultations from 2015 and before have retrieved temperature profiles and evidence of haze in Pluto's atmosphere. While some models indicate that the atmosphere will not freeze out as Pluto moves further from the sun (Young 2013), some degree of atmospheric change is expected as Pluto's surface becomes colder. The epoch at which the atmosphere begins to drop in pressure is influenced by the thermal inertia of the surface materials and the frost transport around the planet; observations of the onset of atmospheric decay, and subsequent observations following the year-to-year pressure drop, will be important for constraining surface models as well as for our understanding of atmospheric transport. On UT 24 August 2016, an occultation by Chariklo will be visible from Chile and possibly Hawaii. Chariklo has been studied via occultations before, most notably in 2013 by Braga-Ribas et al. (2014) when dense, narrow rings were discovered. Additional observations of the system in subsequent occultations have helped to constrain the ring orbits. The August 2016 occultation star is approximately as bright as the 2013 star, thus high-quality data are expected which will allow us to study the stability of the ring system, and detect if any changes in ring particle orbits have occurred since 2013.

Program Type: Standard/Solar System

Scheduled Nights:
Run 1 (2016B):  SOAR/VIS -- 1n on Aug 23 2016
Run 2 (2016B):  AAT/VIS -- 1n on Aug 21 - Aug 22 2016


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