Following the successful exploration of the Pluto system and the classical TNO Arrokoth, new spacecraft mission concepts are being studied to again target dwarf planets and minor bodies of the trans-Neptunian region. One such concept is the Interstellar Probe, currently being studied by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), to explore the outer heliosphere and the local interstellar medium, and it could include a planetary flyby. The following TNO dwarf planets are considered high-priority exploration targets:
2002 MS4; Eris; Gonggong (2007 OR10); Ixion; Orcus; Pluto; Quaoar; Sedna; Varda; Varuna
Due to the fast speed of an Interstellar Probe, and thus the difficulty in changing trajectories en route, it is imperative that orbit solutions for these potential targets be well-constrained by the potential start of a mission in the early 2030s. To this end, we ask you to consider the following:
- Processing imaging data in-hand and submitting astrometry to the Minor Planet Center (MPC).
- Considering imaging these targets as back-up observations for your future observing programs.
- Astrometry from occultations are high-priority measurements.