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

Zemcov, Michael and Arcavi, Iair and Arendt, Richard and Bachelet, Etienne and Chary, Ranga Ram and Cooray, Asantha and Dragomir, Diana and Henry, Richard Conn and Lisse, Carey and Matsuura, Shuji and Murthy, Jayant and Nguyen, Chi and Poppe, Andrew R. and Street, Rachel and Werner, Michael (2018) Astrophysics with New Horizons: Making the Most of a Generational Opportunity. Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 130 (993). Art. No. 115001. ISSN 0004-6280. doi:10.1088/1538-3873/aadb77.

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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 ultraviolet (UV) to near-infrared (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; confirmation and characterization of transiting exoplanets; determinations of the mass of dark objects using gravitational microlensing; and rapid follow-up of transient events. New Horizons is currently in an extended mission designed to focused on Kuiper Belt science 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.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Zemcov, Michael0000-0001-8253-1451
Arcavi, Iair0000-0001-7090-4898
Arendt, Richard0000-0001-8403-8548
Bachelet, Etienne0000-0002-6578-5078
Chary, Ranga Ram0000-0001-7583-0621
Cooray, Asantha0000-0002-3892-0190
Dragomir, Diana0000-0003-2313-467X
Lisse, Carey0000-0002-9548-1526
Matsuura, Shuji0000-0002-5698-9634
Street, Rachel0000-0001-6279-0552
Additional Information:© 2018 The Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Received 2018 February 23; accepted 2018 August 17; published 2018 September 28. We thank the New Horizons science and instrument teams for their decades of dedicated effort designing, building and flying such a complex mission, and in particular H. Weaver for his patience in answering our largely impenetrable queries and his thoughtful input on our work. We would also like to thank B. Crill for his insightful comments that helped improve the study, and our six referees for their incisive thoughts. The New Horizons cruise phase data sets used in this work were obtained from the Planetary Data System (PDS). Support for I.A. was provided by NASA through the Einstein Fellowship Program, grant PF6-170148. A.R.P. was supported by the NASA Planetary Atmospheres program, grant #NNX13AG55G. D.D. acknowledges support provided by NASA through Hubble Fellowship grant HST-HF2-51372.001-A awarded by the Space Telescope Science Institute.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASA Einstein FellowshipPF6-170148
NASA Hubble FellowshipHST-HF2-51372.001-A
Subject Keywords:cosmic background radiation – diffuse radiation – Kuiper Belt: general – planets and satellites: detection – space vehicles – ultraviolet: ISM
Issue or Number:993
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180928-100943536
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Michael Zemcov et al 2018 PASP 130 115001
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:90047
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:28 Sep 2018 22:04
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 00:40

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