New Horizons posters, studies, to be presented at Lunar and Planetary Science Conference
Seven poster sessions and seven studies based on data returned by the New Horizons mission will be presented at the 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, which will be held in The Woodlands, Texas, on March 20–24 of this year (2017).
Centered on Pluto and its moons, the Kuiper Belt, and KBOs, the 14 presentations are humorously titled New Horizons Views of Pluto and Charon: So Long, and Thanks for All the Bits.
The posters will be displayed on Tuesday, March 21, at 5:30 p.m. CDT in the Town Center Exhibit Arena, while the papers will be presented on Wednesday, March 22, between 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. CDT in the Montgomery Ballroom.
William McKinnon and Adrienn Luspay-Kuti are chairing the paper presentation event.
Poster sessions include the following:
- Geophysical Implications of Fast KBO Accretion, by C.J. Bierson, F Nimmo, C. Goldblatt, and S. Jacobson, addresses the rapid formation and accretion of Kuiper Belt Objects.
- Carbon Monoxide-Nitrogen Ice Mixture Measurements in Simulated Pluto Conditions, by C.J. Ahrens, M. Souza, Z.M. McMahon, and V.F. Chevrier, discusses the composition and behavior of mixtures of nitrogen ice and carbon monoxide ice on Pluto.
- Investigating a Cryovolcanic Collapse Feature in Cthulhu Region, Pluto, by C.J. Ahrens and V.F. Chevrier, proposes that an ancient, cratered region on Pluto has cryovolcanic origins.
- Kepler K2 Precision Lightcurve Observations of Pluto: Preliminary Results, by C.M. Lisse, S.D. Benecchi, E.L. Ryan, R.P. Binzel, M.E. Schwamb, et al., presents observations of the Pluto system by the Kepler K2 exoplanet-hunting mission, specifically in terms of atmospheric collapse as Pluto recedes from the Sun.
- Convection in Sputnik Planitia, Pluto: Depth of the N2 Ice Layer and Possible Presence of Basal N2 Melt, by T. Wong, W.B. McKinnon, P.M. Schenk, J.M. Moore, J.R. Spencer, et al., calculates the degree of convection occurring on Sputnik Planitia to determine both the depths of both the nitrogen layer and the impact basin.
- Composition of Pluto’s Small Satellites: Analysis of New Horizons’ Spectral Images, by J.C. Cook, R.P. Binzel, D.P. Cruikshank, C.M. Dalle Ore, A. Earle, et al., discusses the newly obtained infrared spectra of Kerberos, Hydra, and Nix, noting water ice was detected on all of their surfaces. This data is based on New Horizons’ Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) observations; LEISA did not observe Styx.
- Geologic Map of New Horizons’ Encounter Hemisphere of Charon, III, by S.J. Robbins, J.R. Spencer, R.A. Beyer, P. Schenk, J.M. Moore, et al., addresses the data and process used in creating a geologic map of the encounter hemisphere of Charon.
Paper presentations are as follows:
- Haze and Cosmic Ray Influences on Pluto’s Compositional Environments, by W.M. Grundy, R.P. Binzel, M.W. Buie, J.C. Cook, A.F. Cheng, et al., address the interaction between Pluto’s layers of atmospheric haze and its surface.
- The Role of Aerosols in Pluto’s CO2 Hydrocarbon Photochemistry, by A. Luspay-Kuti, K.E. Mandt, K. Jessup, V. Hue, J.A. Kammer, et al., analyzes the chemistry of Pluto’s atmosphere, noting it is similar to that of Saturn’s moon Titan.
- Sublimation Pit Distribution Indicates Convection Cell Surface Velocity of ∼10 Centimeters Per Year in Sputnik Planitia, Pluto, by P.B. Buhler and A.P. Ingersoll, uses the distribution of sublimation pits on Sputnik Planitia to determine the age of its surface.
- Penitentes at Tartarus Dorsa, Pluto, by J.E. Moores, C.L. Smith, A.D. Toigo, and S.D. Guzewich, notes that the age, size, and spacing of Pluto’s bladed or snakeskin terrain is consistent with that of penitentes, or ridges that occur on Earth.
- Impact Origin of Sputnik Planitia Basin, Pluto, by W.B. McKinnon, P.M. Schenk, X. Mao, J.M. Moore, J.R. Spencer, et al., theorizes that Sputnik Planitia was formed when an ancient Kuiper Belt Object impacted Pluto.
- Mapping Charon at 2.21 Microns, by J.C. Cook, C.M. Dalle Ore, R.P. Binzel, D.P. Cruikshank, A. Earle, et al., uses spectral data of Charon provided by LEISA to map the distribution of the 2.21-micron band, which is related to ammonia.
- Geology of Vulcan Planum, Charon, by R.A. Beyer, J.R. Spencer, W.B. McKinnon, J. Moore, S.J. Robbins, et al., notes that high-resolution images of Charon’s Pluto-facing hemisphere confirm the presence of a smooth plain, rilles, mountains, depressions, flows, and even cryovolcanism.
The posters and papers come just after the New Horizons team was awarded the NASA Group Achievement Award, which recognized over 600 people for developing the spacecraft and working on the mission.
Ralph Semmel, director of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, emphasized that unlike many other awards given to the mission team, which focused on specific aspects of the mission, this one acknowledged teamwork by the group as a whole.
“This team has worked flawlessly for long periods of time, and very few people understand what it takes to do that,” said NASA Planetary Science Director Jim Green. “That takes dedication; that takes concentration, [and] that takes everything each and every one of you have to have to burn a hole in steel. That’s what puts you above everything else.”
The awards were presented at JHU-APL on January 19, the 11th anniversary of New Horizons’ launch.
Laurel Kornfeld is an amateur astronomer and freelance writer from Highland Park, NJ, who enjoys writing about astronomy and planetary science. She studied journalism at Douglass College, Rutgers University, and earned a Graduate Certificate of Science from Swinburne University’s Astronomy Online program. Her writings have been published online in The Atlantic, Astronomy magazine’s guest blog section, the UK Space Conference, the 2009 IAU General Assembly newspaper, The Space Reporter, and newsletters of various astronomy clubs. She is a member of the Cranford, NJ-based Amateur Astronomers, Inc. Especially interested in the outer solar system, Laurel gave a brief presentation at the 2008 Great Planet Debate held at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, MD.