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10/15/15: SO/NOAO Joint Colloquium Series: Alex Parker, SWRI


Title: Exploring the Worlds Beyond Neptune

This month, while continuing to transmit data from its Pluto system encounter, New Horizons will perform the largest series of engine burns in its mission. These burns will point New Horizons toward an early 2019 flyby of the newly-discovered trans-Neptunian Object 2014 MU69. This TNO is a member of the Cold Classical Kuiper Belt, and is likely the closest thing to an extant primordial planetesimal to be visited by a spacecraft. In addition to the latest discoveries from the Pluto system, I will discuss the history of trans-Neptunian exploration and how it has shaped our understanding of planet formation, the long search for a post-Pluto target for New Horizons, and what we might expect to learn from the flyby of this relic from the era of planet formation.

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