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Investigating the evolution of Pluto's atmosphere and ices with global climate models

Tanguy Bertrand
Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, Paris, France

In July 2015, the NASA New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto and revealed an amazing and complex surface, mostly covered by nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide ices. In particular, the landscape includes extensive methane frosts and a thousand-kilometer nitrogen glacier, which seems to have eroded and shaped the mountains surrounding it. Curiously, this massive glacier is located in the so-called "Sputnik Planitia" topographic basin, near the equator. What is its origin? How do these ices evolve and interact with the thin atmosphere of Pluto?
Using 3D numerical models, we are able to simulate Pluto's atmosphere and surface on different timescales. After a short description of the history of the mission, the encounter with Pluto, and the major scientific discoveries made to date, I will present our latest results on the activity of the ices, the atmospheric circulation, the formation of the organic haze.

2017 November 28, 12:00

Observatório Astronómico de Lisboa (Seminar room)
Tapada da Ajuda, 1349-018 Lisboa

Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia