NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2020A-0266

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Program Information for 2020A-0266


PI: David Gerdes, U. of Michigan, gerdes@umich.edu
Address: Physics Department, 450 Church Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48108 USA

CoI: Hsing-Wen Edward Lin, U. of Michigan
CoI: Jj Kavelaars, Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre
CoI: John R Spencer, Southwest Research Institute
CoI: Simon B Porter, Southwest Research Institute
CoI: Anne Verbiscer, U. of Virginia
CoI: S. Alan Stern, Southwest Research Institute
CoI: Susan Benecchi, PSI

Title: New Horizons Kuiper Belt Extended Mission Target Search 2020 and Beyond

Abstract: We will use DECam to conduct a search for distant Kuiper belt objects that can be observed at high-phase angles using the New Horizons LORRI. After enormously successful close encounters of the dwarf planet systems Pluto-Charon and then the small Kuiper belt object 2014 MU69 the New Horizons spacecraft (NH), which continues to function at full capability, is continuing its journey into the remote Kuiper belt. The Long Range Reconnoissance Imager (LORRI) is a 21cm aperture white-light ccd-imaging telescope on board New Horizons. Having a telescopic platform making in-situ observations of Kuiper belt objects provides a unique opportunity to observe at phase angles in excess of the $sim$ 2 degrees phase achievable from Earth. Observations of small solar system bodies over a variety of phases enables determination of surface texture. NH-LORRI has successfully conducted high-phase observations of about a dozen minor bodies, including a sample of Kuiper belt objects discovered using ground based telescope during our search for a post- Pluto encounter target (Porter et al. 2019, Verbiscer et al. 2019). The earlier searches were restricted to bodies that were along the flight path of the spacecraft as NH flew through the kernel of the cold- Classical Kuiper belt. A successful search using DECam will reveal a $sim$ 10 new, and distant, Kuiper belt objects that can be observed with LORRI between 2021 and 2024, providing a unique opportunity to probe these planetary building blocks housed in the 3rd zone of our solar system.

Program Type: Standard/Solar System

Scheduled Nights:
Run 1 (2020A):  CT-4m/DECam -- 0.5n on Apr 29 2020
Run 2 (2020A):  CT-4m/DECam -- 2n on Jun 20 - Jun 23 2020
Run 3 (2020A):  CT-4m/DECam -- 1.5n on Jul 18 - Jul 20 2020


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NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2020A-0266

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