The Case for a Large-Scale Occultation Network. (arXiv:1905.06354v1 [astro-ph.EP])

The Case for a Large-Scale Occultation Network. (arXiv:1905.06354v1 [astro-ph.EP])
<a href="http://arxiv.org/find/astro-ph/1/au:+Rice_M/0/1/0/all/0/1">Malena Rice</a>, <a href="http://arxiv.org/find/astro-ph/1/au:+Laughlin_G/0/1/0/all/0/1">Gregory Laughlin</a>

We discuss the feasibility of and present initial designs and approximate
cost estimates for a large ($Nsim2000$) network of small photometric
telescopes that is purpose-built to monitor $V lesssim 15$ Gaia Mission
program stars for occultations by minor solar system bodies. The implementation
of this network would permit measurement of the solar system’s tidal gravity
field to high precision, thereby revealing the existence of distant
trans-Neptunian objects such as the proposed “Planet Nine.” As a detailed
example of the network capabilities, we investigate how occultations by Jovian
Trojans can be monitored to track the accumulation of gravitational
perturbations, thereby constraining the presence of undetected massive solar
system bodies. We also show that the tidal influence of Planet Nine can be
discerned from that of smaller, nearer objects in the Kuiper belt. Moreover,
ephemerides for all small solar system bodies observed in occultation could be
significantly improved using this network, thereby improving spacecraft
navigation and refining Solar System modeling. Finally, occultation monitoring
would generate direct measurements of size distributions for asteroid
populations, permitting a better understanding of their origins.

We discuss the feasibility of and present initial designs and approximate
cost estimates for a large ($Nsim2000$) network of small photometric
telescopes that is purpose-built to monitor $V lesssim 15$ Gaia Mission
program stars for occultations by minor solar system bodies. The implementation
of this network would permit measurement of the solar system’s tidal gravity
field to high precision, thereby revealing the existence of distant
trans-Neptunian objects such as the proposed “Planet Nine.” As a detailed
example of the network capabilities, we investigate how occultations by Jovian
Trojans can be monitored to track the accumulation of gravitational
perturbations, thereby constraining the presence of undetected massive solar
system bodies. We also show that the tidal influence of Planet Nine can be
discerned from that of smaller, nearer objects in the Kuiper belt. Moreover,
ephemerides for all small solar system bodies observed in occultation could be
significantly improved using this network, thereby improving spacecraft
navigation and refining Solar System modeling. Finally, occultation monitoring
would generate direct measurements of size distributions for asteroid
populations, permitting a better understanding of their origins.

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