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A New Determination of Radii and Limb Parameters for Pluto and Charon from Mutual Event Lightcurves

Authors
Journal
Icarus
0019-1035
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
108
Issue
2
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1006/icar.1994.1056

Abstract

Abstract Over the past several years Pluto-Charon mutual events have yielded progressively more accurate estimates of Charon's orbital elements and the radii of Pluto and Charon (e.g., Buie, Tholen, and Horne, 1992, Icarus 97, 211-227). Analysis of the 1988 stellar occultation by Pluto indicates a radius for Pluto that is about 4%, or 50 km +, larger than the mutual event radius of 1151 km. One possible explanation for the discrepancy is that the mutual event modeling treats Pluto and Charon as uniformly bright disks. If they are limb-darkened, the mutual event fits could underestimate their radii. In this paper we use an independent mutual event data set (Young and Binzel, 1992, Icarus 102, 134-149) to fit for Pluto and Charon's radii in a manner independent of either object's limb profile or albedo distribution. Our least-squares solution indicates that Pluto's radius is 1164 ± 22.9 km and Charon's radius is 621 ± 20.6 km.

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