NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2014B-0234

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Proposal Information for 2014B-0234


PI: Alex Parker, UC Berkeley (Astronomy), alexharrisonparker@gmail.com
Address: Department of Astronomy, 601 Campbell Hall #3411, Berkeley, CA, 94720-3411, USA

CoI: John Spencer, SwRI
CoI: Marc Buie, SwRI
CoI: S. Alan Stern, SwRI
CoI: David Tholen, University of Hawaii
CoI: David Trilling, Northern Arizona University
CoI: Cesar Fuentes, Northern Arizona University

Title: Targeted Recovery of 2014A Candidate Kuiper Belt Objects for New Horizons Flyby

Abstract: We propose to recover up to three Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) discovered as part of a survey searching for candidate KBO targets for NASA's New Horizons spacecraft to visit after the 2015 Pluto encounter. The first flyby of a small ( 50km) KBO would revolutionize out understanding of this population, and the environment they are embedded in. Our survey has been allocated substantial time in 2014A on Magellan and Subaru to search for faint encounter candidates (r 26-26.4). Discovery observations will be insufficient to identify true encounter candidates, and follow-up observations in the 2014B semester will be required to refine candidate KBOs' orbital properties sufficiently to determine if New Horizons can reach a given object with its remaining fuel. Given expected discovery astrometry, we can robustly rank candidates for follow-up, and selecting three candidates for follow-up observations will be sufficient to recover one true encounter candidate at greater than 99% confidence. Here we propose for 6 hours of TOO time for this targeted follow-up of our highest-priority 2014A discoveries using GMOS on Gemini North. These follow-up observations will increase the precision and accuracy of our orbit measurements, and will refine the sample of candidate KBOs by improving our ability to discriminate between accessible and non-accessible objects.


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