New Horizons: Long-range Kuiper Belt targets observed by the Hubble Space Telescope.

S. D. Benecchi, K. S. Noll, H. A. Weaver, J. R. Spencer, S. A. Stern, M. W. Buie, and A. H. Parker. Icarus 246, 369 (2015).


We report on Hubble Space Telescope (HST) observations of three Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs), discovered in our dedicated ground-based search campaign, that are candidates for long-range observations from the New Horizons spacecraft: 2011 JY31, 2011 HZ102, and 2013 LU35. Astrometry with HST enables both current and future critical accuracy improvements for orbit precision, required for possible New Horizons observations, beyond what can be obtained from the ground. Photometric colors of all three objects are red, typical of the Cold Classical dynamical population within which they reside; they are also the faintest KBOs to have had their colors measured. None are observed to be binary with HST above separations of ∼0.02 arcsec (∼700 km at 44 AU) and Δm <= 0.5.

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