Astrometry Request for TNO Observers
To the TNO Observers Community:
Following on the successful exploration of the dwarf planet Pluto, its small satellites, Charon, and the classical TNO Arrokoth, new spacecraft mission concepts are being studied to again target the dwarf planets and minor bodies of the trans-Neptunian region. One such mission concept is the Interstellar Probe, currently being studied by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), to explore the outer heliosphere and the local interstellar medium, and it could include a planetary flyby. The following TNO dwarf planets are high-priority exploration targets for their size, likely geophysical complexity, compositional heterogeneity, and their relatively low ecliptic latitude, which makes them easier to target than higher latitude targets. To avoid implied bias, they are presented in alphabetical order:
Due to the fast speed of an Interstellar Probe (>40 au in ~6 years or ~36 km/s), and thus the difficulty in changing trajectories en route, it is imperative that orbit solutions for these potential targets be well-constrained by the potential start of a mission in the early 2030s. To this end, we ask you to consider the following:
Such observations will help pave the way for TNO dwarf planet flybys by an Interstellar Probe and/or other future missions to the trans-Neptunian region.
For the Interstellar Probe Concept Study,
Kirby Runyon & Bryan Holler
Lead and Deputy Lead for Planetary Science on Interstellar Probe