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Space Telescope Science Institute
Nix / Hydra Workshop

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About The Event

The discovery of Nix and Hydra in May 2005, using the Hubble Space Telescope, established Pluto as the first known quadruple system in the Kuiper belt, that vast reservoir of icy bodies located approximately between 30 and 50 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun. The principal objective of this workshop was to discuss our understanding of Nix and Hydra on the fifth anniversary of their discovery, as part of the planning for the detailed reconnaissance of the Pluto system in 2015 by NASA’s New Horizons mission. In recognition of Hubble’s key role in expanding our understanding of the Pluto system, the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland hosted the workshop, and co-sponsored it along with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).

The workshop focused Nix and Hydra in the context of Pluto formation, KBO analog bodies, and the general topic of KBO satellites. Other subjects covered included: interrelationships among the objects in the Pluto quadruple system, dynamical considerations, the physical properties of Nix and Hydra, their origin and evolution, the implications for other KBOs, how Nix and Hydra compare to other moons in the solar system, and the plans and expected datasets resulting from Nix and Hydra investigations by the New Horizons mission. Most of the presentations were invited, but there were also opportunities to present contributed oral or poster papers.

Participation in the workshop was open to anyone, but was limited to ~50 researchers.

SOC: Hal Weaver, Alan Stern, Bill McKinnon

LOC: Darlene Spencer, Max Mutchler, Keith Noll, Iain Reid, Hal Weaver