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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[61.06] Re-examination of the Possibility of Haze in Pluto's Atmosphere Based on Multi-Wavelength Observations of the Pluto Occultation of P131.1.

J. E. Thomas-Osip, J. L. Elliot, K. B. Clancy (MIT)

Multi-wavelength observations of the occultation of P131.1 by Pluto (see Elliot et al., this conference) allow for a re-examination of the possibility of the existence of haze in Pluto's atmosphere. Models of the extinction efficiency of haze particles as a function of wavelength are being used investigate the potential for the existence of haze in the 2002 Pluto atmosphere.

The existence of a haze layer in Pluto's atmosphere was postulated to explain the abrupt change in slope seen in the light curve of the 1988 stellar occultation by Pluto (Elliot and Young 1992, AJ, 103, 991). An alternative explanation (Hubbard et al. 1990, Icarus, 84, 1) includes a steep thermal gradient near the surface instead of, or in addition to, a haze layer. Modeling of the growth and sedimentation of photo-chemically produced spherical aerosols (Stansberry et al. 1989, Geophys. Res. Let., 16, 1221) suggested that an appropriate production rate is not sufficient to produce the opacity necessary to account for change in slope found in the 1988 light curve, if it were due solely to spherical particle haze extinction.

Recent studies (see for example, Rannou et al. 1995, Icarus, 188, 355 and Thomas-Osip et al. 2002, Icarus, submitted) have shown that it is likely that photochemical hazes on Titan are aggregate in nature. Fractal aggregate particles can have larger extinction efficiencies than equivalent mass spheres of the same material (Rannou et al. 1999, Planet. Space Sci., 47,385). We are, therefore, also re-examining the effect of a haze with an aggregate morphology on modeling of the 1988 occultation observations. This research has been supported in part by NSF Grant AST-0073447 and NASA Grant NAG5-10444.

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