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But the exact opposite occurs. This paradoxical scenario was already considered by Pluto's global climate models GCM since the s, but without certainty, as one scenario among many others. Several important parameters of the model remained to be constrained by observations.

These observations of stellar occultations from Earth, coupled with data collected during NASA New Horizons' Pluto flyby in July , now allow a much more accurate scenario to be written.

Gottfried Kirchengast | Publons

This depression locks up a part of the nitrogen available in the atmosphere, forming a gigantic glacier which is the true "heart" of the climate of the dwarf planet, since it regulates the atmospheric circulation via the sublimation of the nitrogen. In addition, stellar occultations allow to constrain the subsoil's thermal inertia of the model, explaining the thirty-year phase shift between the transition to perihelion and the growth in pressure still observed today Fig.

The subsoil has stored the heat and is restoring it gradually. Occultations also constrain the fraction of solar energy returned to space bond albedo of nitrogen ice and its emissivity. Finally, these observations eliminate the possibility for the presence of a reservoir of nitrogen in the southern hemisphere currently in a permanent night , which would produce a maximum of pressure much earlier than what is observed magenta curve of Fig.

Seasonal changes on Pluto

This study is a nice illustration of complementarity between ground-based and space observations. Without the New Horizons flyby, ice distribution and topography would remain unknown, and without long-term monitoring of the atmosphere, Pluto's climate models could not be constrained. Finally, the occultations also provide 19 Pluto's positions between and , with an unequaled precision of a few milliarcsec mas in the sky. Such a precision, possible thanks to the Data Release 2 of the European Gaia mission, allows the authors to compute an ephemeris of Pluto with this equivalent precision for the next decade.

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  • Thus, it will be possible to observe other occultations by Pluto and to monitor its climate The theoretical models indicate that Pluto's atmosphere is currently near its maximum expansion. Future observations could confirm or refute this prediction. Are we going to see soon the beginning of this slow decline, which should reduce by a factor of twenty the atmospheric pressure of Pluto at the end, and cover its surface with a thin layer of glossy "white frost?

    Pluto's ephemeris from ground-based stellar occultations More from Astronomy and Astrophysics. Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more. Your feedback will go directly to Science X editors. Thank you for taking your time to send in your valued opinion to Science X editors. You can be assured our editors closely monitor every feedback sent and will take appropriate actions.

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    Validation of GOMOS/Envisat High-Resolution Temperature Profiles (HRTP) Using Spectral Analysis

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    • To give you the best possible experience this site uses cookies. Using this site means you agree to our use of cookies. View cookies policy. Astronautics Because we are all connected in our modern world, this moment of success was quickly amplified. Shortly after the event, my phone started beeping with notifications from other stations that had also captured the event. Some even reported the detection of the central flash, while others were not as lucky because of technical issues or poor weather.

      The preliminary lightcurve shows the presence of the atmosphere because of the gradual disappearance and reappearance of the star and confirms that the timing of the occultation was within the 10s accuracy. But we already know that the night was a success for Unistellar in that we validated the potential of our mighty prototype to observe astronomical events.

      MAVEN Stellar Occultation Atmospheric Coverage

      This was a useful rehearsal for Unistellar in that it not only to confirmed the capabilities of the telescope but also embedded our efforts within the context of a large community of ProAm collaborations. On a personal note, I always feel the thrill of doing something unique and magical when I participate in this type of event. The preparation, the journey to an unknown place, the stress of setting up equipment is probably part of it.

      As an astronomer, this is a part of my job that I love. As a human being, it reminds me that I am lucky to have the opportunity to be part of something unimaginably bigger than me… the entire Universe. Co-founders Arnaud Malvache operating the eVscope prototype at Marseille. Your email address will not be published. The Story of an Occultation. September 20, Published by Franck Marchis at August 19, Like most events in the world of modern astronomy, this one started with an email.