Date of Graduation
Doctor of Philosophy in Space & Planetary Sciences (PhD)
Space & Planetary Sciences
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Cryogeology, Near-infrared spectroscopy, Planetary Science, Pluto, Solar system
New Horizons at Pluto has given the planetary science community the first images of Pluto’s surface, including geologic wonders and compositional variability. Methane, nitrogen, and carbon monoxide make up the bulk of the volatile plutonian surface along with water ice. In this work, these three main volatiles are specifically investigated in the laboratory setting to understand the spectral properties and behavior of binary and ternary mixtures. The spectra are taken in the near-infrared wavelengths (1 – 2.5 µm) using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy techniques utilizing the Pluto Simulation Chamber housed at the University of Arkansas, which can reach conditions relevant to Pluto (10 – 50 K; 14- 25 µbar). Here updated investigations of the methane-nitrogen and nitrogen-carbon monoxide binary systems are developed, along with the creation of an entirely new methane-carbon monoxide binary phase diagram. The second part of this dissertation is the study of certain geophysical processes. This includes compressional folds at the Baret Montes glacier, collapsing from putative cryovolcanism at Hekla Cavus, and fault construction in the southwestern close-encounter hemisphere of Pluto. Both the experimental spectroscopy and theoretical geology expand the knowledge of Pluto and other icy bodies of the outer solar system and could perhaps expand our knowledge of the interactions of different combinations of ices at low temperatures to understand surface evolution or surface-atmosphere relations.
Ahrens, C. J. (2020). Understanding Ice Mixtures under Pluto Simulated Conditions and their Implications for Geophysical Processes. Graduate Theses and Dissertations Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/etd/3635