A study that followed the evolution of Pluto’s atmosphere for fourteen years shows the seasonal nature of its tenuous envelope of gas produced by the periodical sublimation of nitrogen ices. The study predicts that this will now start to disappear as it condensates as frost.
The study had the participation of Pedro Machado, of Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço (IA). “More and more we look at Pluto’s seasonal atmosphere as a cometary activity,” says Pedro Machado.
His team collected data from observations of eleven stellar occultations, when Pluto passed in front of a star in the sky. The light from the star can be used as a probe for the atmosphere properties.
Full details at IA’s press-release.
Part of my work as science communicator and public information officer at Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço (IA).