How Pluto's hazy atmosphere changes, reveals NASA's SOFIA telescope
New Delhi : NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has made observations on how Pluto's hazy atmosphere changes while the planet moves through an unusual orbit.
The findings have been published in the scientific journal Icarus.
The remote observations done by NASA's SOFIA telescope affirms that the thin haze enshrouding Pluto is made of very small particles that remain in the atmosphere for prolonged periods of time rather than immediately falling to the surface.
Michael Person, the lead author of the paper and director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Wallace Astrophysical Observatory said, "Pluto is a mysterious object that is constantly surprising us. There had been hints in earlier remote observations that there might be haze, but there wasn’t strong evidence to confirm it really existed until the data came from SOFIA. Now we’re questioning if Pluto’s atmosphere is going to collapse in the coming years – it may be more resilient than we thought.”
The observations were made by New Horizons' way back in 2015.
The agreement between the data gathered remotely by SOFIA and from New Horizons’ close flyby supports that occultation observations from Earth can provide high-quality data between spacecraft missions.