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seasonal nitrogen cycles on plutoA thermal model, developed to predict seasonal nitrogen cycles on Triton, has been modified and applied to Pluto. The model was used to calculate the partitioning of nitrogen between surface frost deposits and the atmosphere, as a function of time for various sets of input parameters. Volatile transport was confirmed to have a significant effect on Pluto's climate as nitrogen moved around on a seasonal time scale between hemispheres, and sublimed into and condensed out of the atmosphere. Pluto's high obliquity was found to have a significant effect on the distribution of frost on its surface. Conditions that would lead to permanent polar caps on Triton were found to lead to permanent zonal frost bands on Pluto. In some instances, frost sublimed from the middle of a seasonal cap outward, resulting in a "polar bald spot". Frost which was darker than the substrate did not satisfy observables on Pluto, in contrast to our findings for Triton. Bright frost (brighter than the substrate) came closer to matching observables. Atmospheric pressure varied seasonally. The amplitudes, and to a lesser extent the phase, of the variation depended significantly on frost and substrate properties. Atmospheric pressure was found to be determined both by Pluto's distance from the sun and by the subsolar latitude. In most cases two peaks in atmospheric pressure were observed annually: a greater one associated with the sublimation of the north polar cap just as Pluto receded from perihelion, and a lesser one associated with the sublimation of the south polar cap as Pluto approached perihelion. Our model predicted frost-free dark substrate surface temperatures in the 50 to 60 K range, while frost temperatures typically ranged between 30 to 40 K. Temporal changes in frost coverage illustrated by our results, and changes in the viewing geometry of Pluto from the Earth, may be important for interpretation of ground-based measurements of Pluto's thermal emission.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Hansen, Candice J.
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA United States)
Paige, David A.
(California Univ. Los Angeles, CA United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1996
Publication Information
Publication: ICARUS
Volume: 120
Issue: Article No. 0049
ISSN: 0019-1035
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Exploration
Distribution Limits