PI: Marc W. Buie, Southwest Research Institute, firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: 1050 Walnut St., Suite 300, Boulder, Colorado 80302, United States
Title: KBO orbits for occultation predictions
Abstract: The orbits and physical properties of Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) provide valuable constraints on the dynamical and environmental evolution of the outer Solar System. Much progress has been made in the past two decades of KBO observations but we still have limited information on physical sizes of these objects. Thermal observations work well (with Spitzer and Herschel) but the dynamically cold classical KBOs (low inclination, low eccentricity near 45 AU) have proven especially challenging with radiometric techniques. This particular class of object is arguably the most primitive (least disturbed) and are a critical component for study. Stellar occultations can provide the missing sizes but to do so we need more objects with better orbits to make these observations feasible. Occultations are also very good at probing for close-in structures like atmospheres, rings, and satellites, particularly for nearly equal mass binaries. The cold classical objects are also the most likely to have satellites. Getting an occultation diameter on binary objects will permit getting accurate densities since the system mass is known from the satellite orbit. These proposed observations will collect critical astrometry needed to improve the orbits of under-observed KBOs that are candidates for stellar occultation observations. Where possible, known binaries will be given preference for astrometry. This work is part of a NSF-funded project to secure occultation diameters of KBOs.
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