Surface ices and the atmospheric composition of Pluto

Tobias C. Owen, Ted L. Roush, Dale P. Cruikshank, James L. Elliot, Leslie A. Young, Catherine De Bergh, Bernard Schmitt, Thomas R. Geballe, Robert H. Brown, Mary Jane Bartholomew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

264 Scopus citations


Observations of the 1.4- to 2.4-micrometer spectrum of Pluto reveal absorptions of carbon monoxide and nitrogen ices and confirm the presence of solid methane. Frozen nitrogen is more abundant than the other two ices by a factor of about 50; gaseous nitrogen must therefore be the major atmospheric constituent. The absence of carbon dioxide absorptions is one of several differences between the spectra of Pluto and Triton in this region. Both worlds carry information about the composition of the solar nebula and the processes by which icy planetesimals formed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)745-748
Number of pages4
Issue number5122
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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