The newest frontier of the solar system is the Kuiper Belt, a region of numerous small, faint objects orbiting the Sun near or beyond the orbits of Neptune and Pluto.
Lowell Observatory astronomer Henry Roe will use the Near Infrared High Throughput Spectrograph (NIHTS) to carry out a comprehensive survey of these objects via the Kuiper Spectral Survey (KSS). Where today we have detailed spectra information for only a handful of KBOs, the KSS will yield detailed data for some 350 objects, greatly expanding our understanding of the Kuiper Belt's composition and dynamical history.
The KSS will also take advantage of DCT's ability to switch rapidly from one instrument to another. In addition to the infrared spectra, Henry will obtain contemporaneous images of the target KBOs with the Large Monolithic Imager, further constraining their properties.
The structure of the Kuiper Belt in turn provides clues to the dynamical evolution of the entire solar system, including the outer planets. The KSS will continue Lowell's tradition of outer solar system research, and is ideally suited to demonstrate the capabilities of the DCT for both faint objects and for large, synoptic observing programs.