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          Institute: MPI für Astronomie     Collection: Publikationen_mpia     Display Documents

ID: 421352.0, MPI für Astronomie / Publikationen_mpia
Surface characterization of Pluto and Charon by L and M band spectra
Authors:Protopapa, S.; Boehnhardt, H.; Herbst, T. M.; Cruikshank, D. P.; Grundy, W. M.; Merlin, F.; Olkin, C. B.
Date of Publication (YYYY-MM-DD):2008
Title of Journal:Astronomy and Astrophysics
Journal Abbrev.:A&A
Start Page:365
End Page:375
Review Status:Peer-review
Audience:Experts Only
Abstract / Description:Context: One of the main scientific objectives of NASA's New Horizons mission is to map the icy surface compositions of Pluto and its moon Charon. The encounter will be in 2015. Meanwhile remote observations from earth and space are the most suitable means to enhance further our knowledge of the Pluto/Charon system. Aims: We intend to assist the New Horizons mission by improving our knowledge of Pluto's and Charon's surface compositions. Specifically, we extend the wavelength coverage of the surface spectroscopy beyond the K band, with the goal to detect further surface ice absorption bands predicted from the models that are based on the available JHK spectra, and to search for signatures of yet unknown ices. In particular we aim to resolve the binary system Pluto/Charon and to obtain, for the first time, spectra up to 5 mum of the two objects resolved. Methods: Spectroscopic measurements of Pluto/Charon taken with the adaptive optics instrument NACO at the ESO VLT in the interval 3-7 August 2005 were obtained. The nature and properties of the compounds present on the surface of Pluto and Charon are investigated by applying a Hapke radiative transfer model to the measured spectra. Results: We present Pluto's reflectance spectrum in the wavelength range (1-5) mum. Apart from known and expected absorption bands of methane ice, our Pluto spectrum reveals a new absorption band centered near 4.6 mum, not previously detected. This absorption band could be related to the presence of CO and nitriles (compounds of C and N connected with a triple bond). A geographic mixture of pure methane ice with two different grain sizes, methane and
Free Keywords:Kuiper Belt; techniques: spectroscopic; methods: numerical; scattering
External Publication Status:published
Document Type:Article
Communicated by:N. N.
Affiliations:MPI für Astronomie
Identifiers:URL:http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2008A%26A...490..365... [ID No:1]
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