Barchan dunes on Pluto?
1 University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
2 University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany
Published online: 30 June 2017
We show that the orientation and morphology of bedforms occurring on top of Pluto’s smooth ice coats are consistent with an aeolian origin under conditions of unidirectional flow. From scaling relations for dune size as a function of attributes of atmosphere and sediments, we find that the average diameter of the granular particles constituting such bedforms — assuming an aeolian origin — lies within the range 600 μm< d < 750 μm. Our findings show that, owing to the effect of hysteresis in the minimal threshold wind velocity for saltation, dune migration on Pluto can occur under wind speeds that are common to Earth and Mars.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2017
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.