But What About the Stellar Occultation Data of Pluto's Atmosphere?


Tuesday, May 10 2016 - 12:00 pm, PDT
Angela Zalucha
SETI Institute

Before the flyby of NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, one of the major sources of data about Pluto's atmosphere was ground-based observational data of light intensity as Pluto moved in front of a background star.  From these data the temperature of Pluto's atmosphere as a function of altitude was derived using various techniques.  These techniques rely on knowledge of the vertical temperature structure of Pluto's atmosphere before doing the calculation from light intensity to temperature, the very property that is being sought.  Here I will make the distinction between the "inverse problem" and "forward problem" of analyzing ground-based stellar occultation data, and how we can ensure that we are comparing "apples to apples" when comparing stellar occultation data, model results, and data from other sources.


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