According to wiki page, the mean temperature of Pluto is 44 degree K (-229 degree C). However, given that Pluto is tilted greatly and there is daylight for long periods on part of Pluto facing the Sun and also given that atmosphere of Pluto scatters light to a high degree, the surface temperature on that part of Pluto may be higher. The atmosphere of Pluto contains methane which is a powerful greenhouse gas, and that also could push up the temperature.

What can be the maximum temperature on part of Pluto facing the Sun? Does available temperature estimate take into account findings of New Horizons probe which flyby Pluto earlier this year? Thanks for your insight.

  • $\begingroup$ You might enjoy this article. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_Pluto. Pluto's atmosphere is very thin and being that thin, it traps comparatively little heat. Mars, for example has about 10 times the CO2 in it's atmosphere than Earth does in it's but very little water vapor, so Earth's atmosphere traps and holds heat much better than Mars. Generally speaking, very thin atmospheres don't trap heat well. $\endgroup$ – userLTK Oct 24 '15 at 7:54
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    $\begingroup$ Larry Niven wrote a short story called "Wait It Out". An astronaut stranded on Pluto opts to remove his helment, flash freezing himself in the hope he'll eventually be rescued. But after sunset each day the temperature goes low enough that his brain begins to superconduct and he is able to achieve a degree of conciousness ... $\endgroup$ – Howard Miller Oct 25 '15 at 22:13

According to this site, Pluto may experience temperatures of up to 55K, which I assume happens during the daytime. This low temperature is due to Pluto's distance from the sun, its high albedo (about 0.5), and its extremely thin atmosphere.

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  • $\begingroup$ See this post which shows marked effect of Pluto's atmosphere on light: astronomy.stackexchange.com/questions/12132/… Similar effect may also be expected on heat waves. Hence, to say that Pluto "lacks an atmosphere" is not correct. $\endgroup$ – rnso Oct 24 '15 at 6:20

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