31st Annual Meeting of the DPS, October 1999
Session 29. Science and Technology of Future Space Missions III
Special Solicited and Contributed Oral Parallel Session, Tuesday, October 12, 1999, 2:00-3:30pm, Sala Kursaal

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[29.03] Pluto, The Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt, and the Pluto-Kuiper Express Flyby Mission (Invited)

S.A. Stern (SwRI)

The Pluto-Charon double-planet system has been revealed over the past few years to be more complex and fascinating than had been predicted. At the same time, the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt has been discovered and is proving to be both the long-sought context for the Pluto-Charon system and one of the highest-value relics of planetary formation in our solar system. This talk will concentrate on the recent revolution in knowledge about Pluto, the Pluto-Charon binary, the origin of this wholly-unique binary planet, and its context in the Kuiper Belt. I will also summarize both the planning for, and the scientific objectives of, a NASA reconnaissance mission featuring a launch in 2004 toward flybys of the Pluto-Charon binary and at least one large Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt object.

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