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Proposal Information for 2014B-0202


PI: John Spencer, Southwest Research Institute, spencer@boulder.swri.edu
Address: ., 1050 Walnut St., Boulder, CO 80302, USA

CoI: David Trilling, Northern Arizona University
CoI: Marc Buie, Southwest Research Institute
CoI: Alex Parker, U.C. Berkeley
CoI: David Tholen, University of Hawaii
CoI: S. Alan Stern, Southwest Research Institute

Title: Finding KBO flyby targets for New Horizons

Abstract: We propose to continue the search for Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) that can be reached by the New Horizons spacecraft after its 2015 Pluto flyby, by following up on KBOs discovered in 2014A. The first flyby of a small (~50 km) KBO would revolutionize our understanding of KBOs, providing information that can be extrapolated to hundreds of thousands of similar KBOs. Our 2011 search discovered two objects that could be targeted with less than twice the fuel that New Horizons has available, during excellent seeing, but seeing was insufficient to achieve this depth over the entire search area in 2012 or 2013. Deepening the search with time allocated in 2014A, taking advantage of lower star density and the shrinking search area, has a chance of finding a targetable object given sufficiently good seeing, especially with Hyper Suprime Cam. 2014B follow-up is essential to produce orbits good enough to determine targetability, and allow recovery in 2015. We will also continue to refine the orbits of other previously discovered objects, including ones that can be observed from a distance by New Horizons on its passage through the Kuiper Belt.


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