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Pluto Has An "Upside Down" Atmosphere, Study Reveals

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Bianca
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« on: March 08, 2009, 07:59:53 pm »




Pluto (above) has an "upside down" atmosphere, a March 2009 study revealed. Temperatures rise, rather than drop, with altitude on the dwarf planet—the reverse of Earth.

Image courtesy L. Calcada/ESO








                                                   Pluto Has "Upside Down" Atmosphere






Ker Than
for National Geographic News
March 6, 2009

Pluto, the solar system's oddball, has an upside-down atmosphere compared with Earth. Temperatures rise, rather than drop, with altitude on the dwarf planet, a new study finds.

Astronomers recently made the most detailed measurements to date of the concentration of the greenhouse gas methane in Pluto's atmosphere using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope.


 
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The measurements showed that methane is the second most abundant gas in Pluto's atmosphere, and that the gas is actually warmer at higher elevations than at the icy surface.

As a result, Pluto's upper atmosphere is about 90 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius) warmer than the planet's surface.

The team, led by Emmanuel Lellouch of France's Paris Observatory, speculates that there is a thin frozen layer, or frozen patches, of methane and other gases on Pluto's surface.

As Pluto orbits closer to the sun, the frozen gases vaporize. This process, called sublimation, cools Plutos surface while warming the planet's atmosphere.

Leslie Young is a deputy project scientist for NASA's New Horizons probe, which is scheduled to settle into orbit around Pluto in 2015.

(Related: "NASA Probe Heads to Pluto.")

Young said the new discovery is exciting, especially since it hints at future unexpected observations from New Horizons.

"We know that Pluto changes with time as it moves around the sun," Young said. So combining Earth-based observations with New Horizons data taken from Pluto's orbit will provide new clues about the dwarf planet's behavior.



Findings detailed in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics Letters.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2009, 08:05:15 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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Volitzer
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« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2009, 08:40:11 am »

Are we sure NASA isn't mistaking kinetic energy bands for temperature again ??

Like Venus' 800 degree Kinetic energy bands.
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Robert0326
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« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2009, 06:22:02 pm »

I'm sure they know what they're talking about.  Besides, isn't kinetic energy the energy of a moving object like if you let a rubber band unwind or bounce a ball off a wall?
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Volitzer
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« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2009, 01:36:05 am »

I'm sure they know what they're talking about.  Besides, isn't kinetic energy the energy of a moving object like if you let a rubber band unwind or bounce a ball off a wall?

Kinetic energy bands are around evey planet and can range between 500 and 1500 degrees F and have nothing to do with surface temperatures.

You are just sure about everything aren't you while the country is falling apart.   Roll Eyes
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Robert0326
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« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2009, 01:48:04 am »

I'm not sure about everything.  Just most things.  Try reading a book or an article about science or anything for that matter that doesn't have a conspiracy linked to it.
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"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."     Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823 -Thomas Jefferson
Volitzer
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« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2009, 12:48:29 pm »

Most everything governmental has a conspiracy linked to it.

Otherwise we'd be taking lunar vacations.

Our moon has an atmosphere of 5 psi.

When astronauts took off for the moon guess what the psi of pure oxygen they were breathing ??  5 psi.   Had anything gone wrong the astronauts would have used the LEM as a decompression chamber and renitrofied their blood-stream with the 5 psi N2O2 lunar atmosphere.
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Robert0326
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« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2009, 02:01:30 pm »

The Moon has an atmosphere, but it is very tenuous. Gases in the lunar atmosphere are easily lost to space. Because of the Moon's low gravity, light atoms such as helium receive enough energy from solar heating so that they escape in just a few hours. Heavier atoms take longer to escape, but are ultimately ionized by the Sun's ultraviolet radiation, after which they are carried away from the Moon by the solar wind. This process takes a few months. Because of the rate at which atoms escape from the lunar atmosphere, there must be a continuous source of particles to maintain even a tenuous atmosphere. Sources for the lunar atmosphere include capture of particles from the solar wind and of material released from the impact of comets and meteorites. For some atoms, particularly helium-4 and argon-40, outgassing from the Moon's interior may also be a source.

The Lunar Atmospheric Composition Experiment was deployed on Apollo 17. It was a mass spectrometer that measured the composition of the lunar atmosphere. On earlier missions, only the total abundance of the lunar atmosphere was measured by the Cold Cathode Gauge. The three primary gases in the lunar atmosphere are neon, helium, and hydrogen, in roughly equal amounts. Small amounts of methane, carbon dioxide, ammonia, and water were also detected. In addition, argon-40 was detected, and its abundance increased at times of high seismic activity. Argon-40 is produced by the radioactive decay of potassium-40 in the lunar interior, and the seismic activity may have allowed escape of argon from the interior to the surface along newly created fractures.



Lunar Atmosphere Data Sheet

Diurnal temperature range: >100 K to <400 K  (roughly -250 F to +250 F)
Total mass of atmosphere:  ~25,000 kg
Surface pressure (night): 3 x 10-15 bar  (2 x 10-12 torr)
Abundance at surface: 2 x 105 particles/cm3

Estimated Composition (particles per cubic cm):
    Helium 4 (4He) - 40,000 ; Neon 20 (20Ne) - 40,000 ; Hydrogen (H2) - 35,000
    Argon 40 (40Ar) - 30,000 ; Neon 22 (22Ne) - 5,000 ; Argon 36 (36Ar) - 2,000
    Methane - 1000 ; Ammonia - 1000 ; Carbon Dioxide (CO2) - 1000
    Trace Oxygen (O+), Aluminum (Al+), Silicon (Si+)
    Possible Phosphorus (P+), Sodium (Na+), Magnesium (Mg+)
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Blasphemy is a victimless crime.
"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."     Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823 -Thomas Jefferson
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