37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 55 Pluto and Charon
Poster, Thursday, September 8, 2005, 6:00-7:15pm, Music Recital Room

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[55.04] New Occultation Systems and the 2005 July 11 Charon Occultation

L.A. Young (SwRI), R.G. French (Wellesley College), B. Gregory (CTIO), C.B. Olkin (SwRI), C. Ruhland (U. Chicago), K. Shoemaker (Shoemaker Labs), E.F. Young (SwRI)

Charon's density is an important input to models of its formation and internal structure. Estimates range from 1.59 to 1.83 g/cm3 (Olkin et al.\ 2003. Icarus 164, 254), with Charon's radius as the main source of uncertainty. Reported values of Charon's radius from mutual events range from 593±13 (Buie et al.\ 1992, Icarus 97, 211) to 621±21 km (Young & Binzel 1994, Icarus 108), while an occultation observed from a single site gives a lower limit on the radius of 601.5 km (Walker 1980 MNRAS 192, 47; Elliot & Young 1991, Icarus 89, 244). On 2005 July 11 UT (following this abstract submission date), Charon is predicted to occult the star C313.2. If successful, this event will be the first Charon occultation observed since 1980, and the first giving multiple chords across Charon's disk. This event is expected to measure Charon's radius to 1 km. Our team is observing from three telescopes in Chile, the 4.0-m Blanco and the 0.9-m telescopes at Cerro Tololo and the 4.2-m SOAR telescope at Cerro Pachon. At SOAR, we will be using the camera from our new PHOT systems (Portable High-speed Occultation Telescopes). The PHOT camera is a Princeton Instrument MicroMAX:512BFT from Roper Scientific, a 512\times512 frame-transfer CCD with a readnoise of only 3 electrons at the 100 kHz digitization rate. The camera's exposures are triggered by a custom built, compact, stand-alone GPS-based pulse-train generator. A PHOT camera and pulse-train generator were used to observe the occultation of 2MASS 1275723153 by Pluto on 2005 June 15 UT from Sommers-Bausch Observatory in Boulder Colorado; preliminary analysis shows this was at best a grazing occultation from this site and a successful engineering run for the July 11 Charon occultation.

\noindent The work was supported, in part, by NSF AST-0321338 (EFY) and NASA NNG-05GF05G (LAY).

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