Seminar Series

Investigations of Pluto and the Kuiper Belt

Marc Buie, Southwest Research Institute

12 Dec 2013 - 15:30

This will be a two-part presentation.  The first portion will present my recent and on-going work on characterizing the evolution of surface frosts on Pluto with an eye toward the upcoming New Horizons encounter in 2015.  From the development of photoelectic photometry in the 1950's until about 2000, the surface of Pluto was nearly constant in brightness and appearance.  Subtle temporal variations were seen between 1930 and 1950 based on photographic data.  Since 2000, the surface of Pluto has been undergoing global change and evolution driven by seasonal forcing.  The current observational record, some of it from LCOGTN, will be reviewed and important opportunities for further study leading into the encounter will be discussed.

The second portion will provide an overview of a new network of telescopes I'm developing to make occultation size measurements of Kuiper Belt objects.  This project, in collaboration with John Keller of CalPoly/SLO, involves teachers, students, and community members in a coordinated effort to study these distant objects and probe for tight binary systems.  A pilot project has been operating since April 2013 and I will summarize our current status, lessons learned during deployment of this unique team, and plans for the future.

LCO Seminar Series,
6740 Cortona Dr, Suite 102,
Goleta, CA 93117