[Previous] | [Session 51] | [Next]
R. Chary (U. of California, Santa Cruz), P. Predehl (Max Planck Institut fur Extraterrestrische Physik)
The composition and structure of planetary atmospheres, in particular that of Mars, has primarily been studied by modelling the albedo and opacity of the dust particles at ultraviolet through infrared wavelengths. While this technique is quite powerful, the results have been inconclusive about the composition of the dust grains and their size distribution. In this presentation, we show that the transit of a bright X-ray source within a 1000 arcseconds of a planet would result in X-rays being scattered by the dust grains in the planet's atmosphere. Observing the intensity and spectrum of the scattered X-rays in the energy range 0.2-10 keV can potentially provide unique information about the size and mineralogy of the grains. Using this technique in conjunction with measurements of the optical depth at infrared wavelengths could be a valuable tool to study mineralogy of planets within the solar system, especially that of Mars.