Kuiper Belt Overview
A presentation about Earth-Based Support for the New Horizons Kuiper Extended Mission was given at the October 2016 DPS/EPSC meeting in Pasadena. It provides an introduction and overview of the New Horizons Kuiper Belt Extended Mission (KEM), priorities for Earth-based supporting observations including occultation opportunities.
Having completed its successful flyby of the Pluto system, the New Horizons spacecraft is on a trajectory to encounter Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69. In this extended mission, New Horizons will also take advantage of being an observing platform in the outer solar system to observe a select number of other KBOs having favorable geometries for resolved or high signal-to-noise measurements.
Earth-based observations can support these pending New Horizons measurements through calibrated photometry at low phase angle (Earth), which will be complementary to the higher phase angle data from the spacecraft. In particular for objects having the potential for resolution from the spacecraft, knowledge of the rotational phase at the time of the New Horizons imaging can help constrain the overall shape of these distant objects. A list of the potential targets are available on the Kuiper Belt Campaign Objectives page.