Investigating the evolution of Pluto's atmosphere and ices with global climate models
(Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique)
Seminar room (LLR)
In July 2015, the NASA New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto and revealed an amazing and complex surface, mostly covered by nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide ices. In particular, the landscape includes extensive methane frosts and a thousand-kilometre nitrogen glacier, which seems to have eroded and shaped the mountains surrounding it. Curiously, this massive glacier is located in the so-called "Sputnik Planitia" topographic basin, near the equator. What is its origin ? How do these ices evolve and interact with the thin atmosphere of Pluto ?
Using 3D numerical models, we are able to simulate Pluto's atmosphere and surface on different timescales. After a short description of the history of the mission, the encounter with Pluto, and the major scientific discoveries made to date, I will present our latest results on the activity of the ices, the atmospheric circulation, the formation of the organic haze...