Temperature of Nitrogen Ice on Pluto and Its Implications for Flux Measurements

Kimberly A. Tryka, Robert H. Brown, Dale P. Cruikshank, Tobias C. Owen, Thomas R. Geballe, Catherine Debergh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Previous work by K. A. Tryka et al. (Science261, 751-754, 1993) has shown that the profile of the 2.148-μm band of solid nitrogen can be used as a "thermometer" and determined the temperature of nitrogen ice on Triton to be 38+2-1. Here we reevaluate that data and refine the temperature value to 38 ± 1 K. Applying the same technique to Plato we determine that the temperature of the N2 ice on that body is 40 ± 2 K. Using this result we have created a nonisothermal flux model of the Pluto-Charon system. The model treats Pluto as a body with symmetric N2 polar caps and an equatorial region devoid of N2. Comparison with the infrared and millimeter flux measurements shows that the published fluxes are consistent with models incorporating extensive N2 polar caps (down to ±15° or ±20° latitude) and an equatorial region with a bolometric albedo ≤0.2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-527
Number of pages15
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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