NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2017A-0360

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Program Information for 2017A-0360


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

CoI: Stephen Levine, Lowell Observatory

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

Abstract: We propose to observe a set of occultations by four trans-Neptunian objects in 2017 to study the atmospheric evolution of Pluto, and search for atmospheres and/or rings around potential dwarf planets Orcus, Ixion, and Varda. The occultation technique can be used to probe atmospheric details, ring/debris kinematics, and to place limits on both if an atmosphere or a ring system is not detected. 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.

Program Type: Standard/Solar System

Scheduled Nights:
Run 1 (2017A):  SOAR/SOI -- 1n on Mar 06 2017
Run 2 (2017A):  SOAR/SOI -- 1n on May 04 2017
Run 3 (2017A):  SOAR/SOI -- 3n on Jun 28 - Jun 30 2017


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NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2017A-0360

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