Presentation #102.02 in the session “Pluto System: Atmosphere”.
Pluto’s atmospheric profiles (temperature and pressure) have been studied for decades from stellar occultation lightcurves. By looking at recent Pluto Global Climate Model (GCM) results (3D temperature, pressure, and density fields) and use the results to generate model observer’s plane intensity fields (OPIF) and lightcurves, comparisons are made between the GCM model lightcurves and the lightcurves observed during the 15-AUG-2018 Pluto stellar occultation. Different model scenarios are tested by the comparison to observed data, and we find that the climate scenario with a mid-latitude N2 ice band in the southern hemisphere best reproduces the observed data. Artificial changes are also made to GCM results and the corresponding effects are also studied, which suggests that more details in the GCM can be revealed if we compare the model lightcurves with higher-quality data, such as the occultation lightcurves from the New Horizons. Besides, this method would be effective in studying the seasonal changes on Pluto as it moves away from the sun in the next few years.