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Pluto atmospheric waves from stellar occultations: a wavelet method

Presentation #102.01 in the session “Pluto System: Atmosphere”.

Published onOct 26, 2020
Pluto atmospheric waves from stellar occultations: a wavelet method

Waves are prevalent in Pluto’s atmosphere, as seen in haze layering in New Horizons images (Cheng et al. 2017, Icarus 290, 112) and many high-quality ground-based stellar occultations with high signal-to-noise ratios and cadences (e.g., SwRI/PHOT 2006 Jun 12, AAT, Young, E. et al 2008, AJ 136, 1757; MIT 2007 Mar 18, MMT, Person et al. 2008, AJ 136, 1510 and 2015 Jun 29, SOFIA, Person et al. 2020 Icarus in press, DOI:10.1016/j.icarus.2019.113572; Paris/Lucky Star, 2002 August 21, CFHT/Mauna Kea, Toigo et al 2010 Icarus 208, 402, 2012 July 18 and 2013 May 04, ESO/Paranal, Dias-Oliveira et al 2015 ApJ 881, 53, French et al 2015 Icarus 246, 247). To understand the wave-mean interaction in Pluto’s atmosphere, a first step is to measure how these waves vary with altitude. Meyer wavelets have been used for similar analysis in the terrestrial atmosphere (e.g., Sato & Yamada 1994, JGR 99, 20623). Young, L. (2009, AJ 137, 3398) allows direct computation of line-of-sight refractivity, plus the bending angle and its derivative, given a number density expressed as an exponential multiplied by a sum of Fourier terms. Young, E. (2012 AJ 144, 32) describes a wave optics approach to calculating lightcurves, including diffraction and ray crossing. Together, these enable a new method for describing atmospheric waves in Pluto’s atmosphere. This in turn will allow analyses of the varying waveforms in terms of strength, altitude variations, and likely wave decay/breaking layers leading to a closer understanding of wave generation and wave-driven energy deposition the atmosphere.

This work was supported by NASA ROSES/NFDAP grant 80NSSC20K0563 and received funding from the European Research Council under the European Community’s H2020 2014-2020 ERC Grant Agreement n° 669416 “Lucky Star.”

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