Status Report

Astrophysics with New Horizons: Making the Most of a Generational Opportunity

By SpaceRef Editor
February 28, 2018
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Michael Zemcov, Iair Arcavi, Richard Arendt, Etienne Bachelet, Ranga Ram Chary, Asantha Cooray, Diana Dragomir, Richard C. Henry, Carey Lisse, Shuji Matsuura, Jayant Murthy, Chi Nguyen, Andrew R. Poppe, Rachel Street, Michael Werner
(Submitted on 26 Feb 2018)

The outer solar system provides a unique, quiet vantage point from which to observe the universe around us, where measurements could enable several niche astrophysical science cases that are too difficult to perform near Earth. NASA’s New Horizons mission comprises an instrument package that provides imaging capability from UV to near-IR wavelengths with moderate spectral resolution located beyond the orbit of Pluto. A carefully designed survey with New Horizons can optimize the use of expendable propellant and the limited data telemetry bandwidth to allow several measurements, including a detailed understanding of the cosmic extragalactic background light, studies of the local and extragalactic UV background, measurements of the properties of dust and ice in the outer solar system, searches for moons and other faint structures around exoplanets, determinations of the mass of planets using gravitational microlensing, and rapid follow-up of transient events. New Horizons is currently in an extended mission designed to survey the Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69 that will conclude in 2021. The astrophysics community has a unique, generational opportunity to use this mission for astronomical observation at heliocentric distances beyond 50 AU in the next decade. In this paper, we discuss the potential science cases for such an extended mission, and provide an initial assessment of the most important operational requirements and observation strategies it would require. We conclude that New Horizons is capable of transformative science, and that it would make a valuable and unique asset for astrophysical science that is unlikely to be replicated in the near future.

Comments:    25 pages, 10 figures, submitted to PASP
Subjects:    Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Astrophysics of Galaxies (astro-ph.GA); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)
Cite as:    arXiv:1802.09536 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:1802.09536v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)
Submission history
From: Michael Zemcov
[v1] Mon, 26 Feb 2018 19:00:02 GMT (2215kb,D)

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