Planetary Astronomy Late-morning Seminar for 2017-09-18

Series: Planetary Astronomy Late-morning Seminar
Date: Monday 18-Sep-2017
Time: 11:15-12:15
Location: Atlantic 1250
Speaker: Anna Engle (UMD)
Title: Raman Shop: Using Raman Spectroscopy to Probe the Carbon Monoxide/Nitrogen/Methane Ternary System

The New Horizons mission completed its 10-year voyage in 2015 and has given us a new view of the Pluto system. Prior to the mission, the dwarf planet was known to harbor large quantities of nitrogen (N2) in addition to smaller amounts of carbon monoxide (CO) and methane (CH4). With the completion of the fly-by, we were able to see that a sizable portion of these deposits are found in a site formally known as Sputnik Planitia. More fascinating is the discovery that Sputnik Planitia has convective cells that recycle material, presenting a much younger surface than anticipated. With a surface temperature of ~40K on Pluto, it is possible for N2 to undergo the solid-solid α/β phase transition with the presence of CO in the system. With the aid of Raman spectroscopy, we demonstrate that introducing CH4 into the CO/N2 system depresses the temperature at which the α/β phase transition occurs and that the CO/N2/CH4 ternary system on Sputnik Planitia should have <10% CH4 for the phase transition to take place.

For further information contact PALS coordinator Dr. Matthew Knight at or (301)-405-2629.


Special accommodations for individuals with disabilities can be made by calling (301) 405-3001. It would be appreciated if we are notified at least one week in advance.


Directions and information about parking can be found here.

This page was automatically generated on: 10-Sep-2017.