DPS 2001 meeting, November 2001
Session 14. Decadal Survey Posters
Displayed, 9:00am Tuesday - 3:00pm Saturday, Highlighted, Tuesday, November 27, 2001, 5:00-7:00pm, French Market Exhibit Hall

[Previous] | [Session 14] | [Next]

[14.15] Report by the Community Panel for Kuiper Belt Research

W.M. Grundy (Lowell Obs.)

A balanced approach will be needed to maximize our scientific understanding of the trans-Neptunian population during the decade 2003-2013. Essential research components include discovery of new TNOs with adequate astrometric follow-up, observations of their physical properties, and a wide variety of theoretical, laboratory, and spacecraft investigations.

We need to discover at least an order of magnitude more TNOs than are known today, and determine their orbits to sufficient precision that we can discern the dynamical fine-structure of the belt without being misled by observational biases. To reach this goal, continuing efforts are needed to discover new objects at rates exceeding current discovery rates, coupled with a greatly-increased campaign of astrometric follow-up, requiring more time than is currently available on 3-4~m telescopes.

A multitude of complementary observational studies are needed to determine rotation rates, radii, albedos, colors, masses, and compositions of a significant sample of TNOs, enabling us to draw conclusions about the ensemble properties of distinct sub-populations. We also need to learn more about the radiation and particle environment. These observations require access to state-of-the-art astronomical facilities including HST, Keck, and eventually SIRTF, ALMA, NGST, and future large telescopes, as well as direct exploration by NASA's Pluto-Kuiper belt probe.

Laboratory and theoretical studies will be essential to interpreting the observational data. We need laboratory investigation of optical constants, photolytic and radiolytic pathways, low-temperature chemistry, gas-solid interactions, and collisional\slash accretional properties to provide the physical ground-truth for the wide range of observed properties. These studies must be supported by theoretical work on radiative transfer and thermal and compositional evolution of KBO surfaces and interiors. Comprehensive numerical studies of the formation and the dynamical and collisional evolution of the outer solar system will be needed to interpret the observed distributions of the thousands of objects awaiting discovery.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.aas.org/~dps/decadal/community_panels.html. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: kuiper-belt@yahoogroups.com

[Previous] | [Session 14] | [Next]