Remote sensing D/H ratios in methane ice: Temperature-dependent absorption coefficients of CH3D in methane ice and in nitrogen ice

W. M. Grundy, S. J. Morrison, M. J. Bovyn, Stephen C Tegler, D. M. Cornelison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


The existence of strong absorption bands of singly deuterated methane (CH3D) at wavelengths where normal methane (CH4) absorbs comparatively weakly could enable remote measurement of D/H ratios in methane ice on outer Solar System bodies. We performed laboratory transmission spectroscopy experiments, recording spectra at wavelengths from 1 to 6μm to study CH3D bands at 2.47, 2.87, and 4.56μm, wavelengths where ordinary methane absorption is weak. We report temperature-dependent absorption coefficients of these bands when the CH3D is diluted in CH4 ice and also when it is dissolved in N2 ice, and describe how these absorption coefficients can be combined with data from the literature to simulate arbitrary D/H ratio absorption coefficients for CH4 ice and for CH4 in N2 ice. We anticipate these results motivating new telescopic observations to measure D/H ratios in CH4 ice on Triton, Pluto, Eris, and Makemake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)941-949
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011



  • Ices, IR spectroscopy
  • Kuiper belt
  • Pluto
  • Satellites, Composition
  • Transneptunian objects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

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