KBO Targets for New Horizons

Explanation: NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered three Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) the agency’s New Horizons spacecraft could potentially visit after it flies by Pluto in July 2015. The KBOs were detected through a dedicated Hubble observing program by a New Horizons search team that was awarded telescope time for this purpose. To find the objects, the Hubble Space Telescope took a total of 830 images of 83 pieces of sky ("fields"), covering an area similar to the size of the full moon. In this graphic, each pair of blue rectangles shows the size and position of a single Hubble field. The pair of rectangles represents the twin CCD detectors of the Hubble Wide-Field Camera 3 (WFC3) used for the survey. The white stars show the approximate positions where three KBOs that are potentially reachable by New Horizons were discovered. The purple outline shows the Hubble field containing object "PT1," and the red outline shows the tiny fraction of that field in which PT1 was found. A combination of five images shows PT1 (circled) moving against the star background.


Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.