Whipple was a proposed space observatory in the NASA Discovery Program.  The observatory would try to search for objects in the Kuiper belt and the theorized Oort cloud by conducting blind occultation observations.  Although the Oort cloud was hypothesized in the 1950s, it has not yet been directly observed.  The mission would attempt to detect Oort cloud objects by scanning for brief moments where the objects would block the light of background stars. 
In 2011, six finalists were selected for the 2016 Discovery Program, and Whipple was not among them, but it was awarded funding to continue its technological development efforts. 
Whipple would orbit in a halo orbit around the Earth–Sun L2 and have a photometer that would try to detect Oort cloud and Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) by recording their transits of distant stars.  It would be designed to detect objects out to 10000 AU .  Some of the mission goals included directly detecting the Oort cloud for the first time and determining the outer limit of the Kuiper belt.  Whipple would be designed to detect objects as small as a kilometer (half a mile) across at a distance of 3,200 billion kilometers; 22,000 astronomical units (2×1012 mi).  Its telescope would need a relatively wide field of view and fast recording cadence to capture transits that may last only seconds. 
In 2011, Whipple was one of three proposals to win a technology development award in a Discovery Program selection.  The design proposed was a catadioptric Cassegrain telescope with a 77-centimeter aperture (30.3 inches).  It would have a wide field of view with a fast read-out CMOS detector to achieve the desired time and photometric sensitivity. 
The smallest KBO yet detected was discovered in 2009 by poring over data from the Hubble Space Telescope's fine guidance sensors.  Astronomers detected a transit of an object against a distant star, which, based on the duration and amount of dimming, was calculated to be a KBO about 1,000 meters (3,200 ft) in diameter.  It has been suggested that the Kepler observatory may be able to detect objects in the Oort cloud by their occultation of background stars. 
The Kuiper belt is a circumstellar disc in the outer Solar System, extending from the orbit of Neptune at 30 astronomical units (AU) to approximately 50 AU from the Sun. It is similar to the asteroid belt, but is far larger—20 times as wide and 20–200 times as massive. Like the asteroid belt, it consists mainly of small bodies or remnants from when the Solar System formed. While many asteroids are composed primarily of rock and metal, most Kuiper belt objects are composed largely of frozen volatiles, such as methane, ammonia, and water. The Kuiper belt is home to most of the objects that astronomers generally accept as dwarf planets: Orcus, Pluto, Haumea, Quaoar, and Makemake. Some of the Solar System's moons, such as Neptune's Triton and Saturn's Phoebe, may have originated in the region.
The Oort cloud, sometimes called the Öpik–Oort cloud, first described in 1950 by the Dutch astronomer Jan Oort, is a theoretical concept of a cloud of predominantly icy planetesimals proposed to surround the Sun at distances ranging from 2,000 to 200,000 AU. It is divided into two regions: a disc-shaped inner Oort cloud and a spherical outer Oort cloud. Both regions lie beyond the heliosphere and in interstellar space. The Kuiper belt and the scattered disc, the other two reservoirs of trans-Neptunian objects, are less than one thousandth as far from the Sun as the Oort cloud.
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Marc William Buie is an American astronomer and prolific discoverer of minor planets who works at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado in the Space Science Department. Formerly he worked at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, and was the Sentinel Space Telescope Mission Scientist for the B612 Foundation, which is dedicated to protecting Earth from asteroid impact events.
The scattered disc (or scattered disk) is a distant circumstellar disc in the Solar System that is sparsely populated by icy small solar system bodies, which are a subset of the broader family of trans-Neptunian objects. The scattered-disc objects (SDOs) have orbital eccentricities ranging as high as 0.8, inclinations as high as 40°, and perihelia greater than 30 astronomical units (4.5×109 km; 2.8×109 mi). These extreme orbits are thought to be the result of gravitational "scattering" by the gas giants, and the objects continue to be subject to perturbation by the planet Neptune.
Neptune has been directly explored by one space probe, Voyager 2, in 1989. As of January 2022, there are no confirmed future missions to visit the Neptunian system, although a tentative Chinese mission has been planned for launch in 2024. NASA, ESA, and independent academic groups have proposed future scientific missions to visit Neptune. Some mission plans are still active, while others have been abandoned or put on hold.
Quaoar (50000 Quaoar), provisional designation 2002 LM60, is a dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt, a region of icy planetesimals beyond Neptune. A non-resonant object (cubewano), it measures approximately 1,121 km (697 mi) in diameter, about half the diameter of Pluto. The object was discovered by American astronomers Chad Trujillo and Michael Brown at the Palomar Observatory on 4 June 2002. Signs of water ice on the surface of Quaoar have been found, which suggests that cryovolcanism may be occurring on Quaoar. A small amount of methane is present on its surface, which can only be retained by the largest Kuiper belt objects. In February 2007, Weywot, a synchronous moon in orbit around Quaoar, was discovered by Brown. Weywot is measured to be 170 km (110 mi) across. Both objects were named after mythological figures from the Native American Tongva people in Southern California. Quaoar is the Tongva creator deity and Weywot is his son.
The Taiwanese–American Occultation Survey (TAOS) is a robotic survey of the Outer Solar System. TAOS uses an array of four 50 cm aperture telescopes to monitor background stars awaiting the alignment of an Outer Solar System with a star target: an occultation. Small objects in the Outer Solar System that are too small to be observed by direct observations at this time can be probed with this technique. Occultation surveys take advantage of diffraction effects during the transit of the occulting object in front of a background star to constraint the size and distance of the occulter. TAOS is sensitive to occultations by Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) larger than about 500 m in diameter and to Sedna-like objects.
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486958 Arrokoth (provisional designation 2014 MU69) is a trans-Neptunian object located in the Kuiper belt. Arrokoth became the farthest and most primitive object in the Solar System visited by a spacecraft when the New Horizons space probe conducted a flyby on 1 January 2019. Arrokoth is a contact binary 36 km (22 mi) long, composed of two planetesimals 21 km (13 mi) and 15 km (9 mi) across, that are joined along their major axes. With an orbital period of about 298 years and a low orbital inclination and eccentricity, Arrokoth is classified as a cold classical Kuiper belt object.
2014 PN70, internally designated g12000JZ, g1 and PT3, is a trans-Neptunian object from the cold classical Kuiper belt located in the outermost region of the Solar System. It measures approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) in diameter. The object was first observed by the New Horizons Search Team using the Hubble Space Telescope on 6 August 2014, and was a proposed flyby target for the New Horizons probe until 2015, when the alternative target 486958 Arrokoth was definitively selected.
2014 OS393, unofficially designated e31007AI, e3 and PT2, is a binary trans-Neptunian object in the classical Kuiper belt, the outermost region of the Solar System. It was first observed by the New Horizons KBO Search using the Hubble Space Telescope on 30 July 2014. Until 2015, when the object 486958 Arrokoth was selected, it was a potential flyby target for the New Horizons probe. Estimated to be approximately 42 kilometres (26 mi) in diameter, the object has a poorly determined orbit as it had been observed for only a few months.
2014 MT69 (internally designated 0720090F in the context of the Hubble Space Telescope, and 7 in the context of the New Horizons mission) is a cold classical Kuiper belt object (KBO) and was formerly a potential flyby target for the New Horizons probe. The object measures approximately 20–90 kilometers (12–56 miles) in diameter.
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Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) for the Hubble Space Telescope is a system of three instruments used for pointing the telescope in space, and also for astrometry and its related sciences. Each FGS uses a combination of optics and electronics to provide for pointing the telescope at a certain location in the sky. There are three Hubble FGS, and they have been upgraded over the lifetime of the telescope by manned Space Shuttle missions. The instruments can support pointing of 2 milli-arc seconds. The three FGS are part of the Hubble Space Telescope's Pointing Control System, aka PCS. The FGS function in combination with the Hubble main computer and gyroscopes, with the FGS providing data to the computer as sensors which enables the HST to track astronomical targets.
2015 TH367 is a trans-Neptunian object approximately 220 kilometers in diameter. As of 2021 it is approximately 90 AU (13 billion km) from the Sun. At the time of its announcement in March 2018, it was the third most distant observed natural object in the Solar System, after Eris and 2014 UZ224.