I will report for the Amanda Bosh et al team on the highly successful Pluto occultation of a bright star (R~12mag) on 29 June 2015 with four instruments on SOFIA. The SOFIA Aircraft was deployed from Christchurch New Zealand. Observations were performed at four wavelengths from 0.4 to 1.8 microns. Pre-event astrometry allowed for an in-flight update to the SOFIA team with the result that SOFIA was deep within the central flash zone. Combined analysis of the data sets, including complementary ground based observations, leads to the result that Pluto’s middle atmosphere is essentially unchanged from 2011 and 2013 (Person et al. 2013; Bosh et al. 2015); there has been no significant expansion or contraction of the atmosphere. Additionally, we find that a haze component in the atmosphere is required to reproduce the light curves obtained. This haze scenario has implications for understanding the photochemistry of Pluto’s atmosphere.
Pluto Occultation with SOFIA on 29 June 2015 in Support of the New Horizons Flyby: Occultation Evidence for Haze
SOFIA Science Center