AAS 201st Meeting, January, 2003
Session 61. Pluto-Occultation Studies
Oral, Tuesday, January 7, 2003, 10:00-11:30am, 616-617

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[61.01] Pluto Occultation of P131.1 in 2002 August: Overview of Observations and Infrared Results

J. L. Elliot, K. B. Clancy (MIT), J. T. Rayner, D. J. Tholen (U. of Hawaii), M. J. Person, D. J. Osip (MIT), J. M. Pasachoff, B. A. Babcock, D. R. Ticehurst (Williams), D. Hall, L. C. Roberts, Jr. (Boeing), A. S. Bosh (Boston U. and Lowell), S. S. Eikenberry, D.-S. Moon (Cornell), M. W. Buie, E. W. Dunham, C. B. Olkin, B. Taylor (Lowell), S. D. Kern, S. Qu, C. V. Salyk (MIT), S. K. Leggett (UKIRT), S. E. Levine, R. C. Stone (USNO Flagstaff)

Pluto's occultation of the star P131.1 (R = 15.7, K = 13.3; see McDonald & Elliot, 2002, AJ 120, 1599) on 2002 August 21 was successfully observed with nine telescopes: the IRTF, UH 2.2m, UH 0.6m, UKIRT, and CFHT on Mauna Kea; the AEOS telescope on Haleakala, the Shane telescope at Lick Observatory, the Perkins telescope at Lowell Observatory, and the Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory. Occultation light curves were recorded at a variety of time resolutions and wavelengths in order to facilitate several investigations of Pluto's atmosphere (see Pasachoff et al., Person et al., Clancy et al., this meeting). We confirm the main conclusion from the P126 occultation (Buie et al., BAAS 34, 877) that the structure of Pluto's atmosphere has changed substantially since it was last observed in 1988 (Elliot & Young et al., AJ 103, 991). The multi-wavelength nature of our P131.1 data set allows us to elucidate these changes. The IRTF data were recorded with SpeX (Rayner et al. 2003 PASP, in preparation) and span the 0.8 to 2.5 micron region of the spectrum. Although recorded at lower time resolution (about 4 spectra per minute) than the other data sets, comparison of the SpeX light curves at different wavelengths (and comparing them with the visible light curves) is being used to establish the role of extinction by possible hazes and clouds in Pluto's atmosphere throughout the occultation. These IR data and the UKIRT light curve with the H filter will be used to correct the visible-light curves for extinction effects (if present) prior to inverting the light curves to obtain temperature, pressure, and number-density profiles of Pluto's atmosphere. This work has been supported in part by Research Corporation, NASA, and NSF.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #4
© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.