We adapted a multispecies escape model, developed for close-in extrasolar planets, to calculate the escape rates of CH4 and N2 from Pluto. In the absence of escape, CH4 should overtake N2 as the dominant species below the exobase. The CH4 profile depends strongly on the escape rate, however, and the typical escape rates predicted for Pluto lead to a nearly constant mixing ratio of less than 1% below the exobase. In this case the CH4 escape rate is only 5-10% of the N2 escape rate. Observations of the CH4 profile by the New Horizons/ALICE spectrograph can constrain the CH4 escape rate and provide a unique test for escape models.
- Pluto and satellites
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)