Space Science Reviews

, 214:130 | Cite as

Recent Advancements and Motivations of Simulated Pluto Experiments

  • Caitlin J. AhrensEmail author
  • William M. Grundy
  • Kathleen E. Mandt
  • Paul D. Cooper
  • Orkan M. Umurhan
  • Vincent F. Chevrier
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Ices in the Solar System


This review of Pluto laboratory research presents some of the recent advancements and motivations in our understanding enabled by experimental simulations, the need for experiments to facilitate models, and predictions for future laboratory work. The spacecraft New Horizons at Pluto has given a large amount of scientific data already rising to preliminary results, spanning from the geology to the atmosphere. Different ice mixtures have now been detected, with the main components being nitrogen, methane, and carbon monoxide. Varying geology and atmospheric hazes, however, gives us several questions that need to be addressed to further our understanding. Our review summarizes the complexity of Pluto, the motivations and importance of laboratory simulations critical to understanding the low temperature and pressure environments of icy bodies such as Pluto, and the variability of instrumentation, challenges for research, and how simulations and modeling are complimentary.


Pluto Laboratory simulations Ices Experiments Modeling 



The authors would like to thank the New Horizons team for image and data accessibility.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary SciencesUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA
  2. 2.Lowell ObservatoryNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  3. 3.Space Science and Engineering DivisionSouthwest Research InstituteSan AntonioUSA
  4. 4.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  5. 5.NASA Ames Research CenterMoffett FieldUSA

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