This project aims to develop new approaches for testing the hypothesis that the solar system underwent a massive re-organization several hundred million years after its beginning, including the migration of Jupiter and Saturn and scattering of a large number of small bodies. This event is imagined to have re-shaped the orbits of many comets and asteroids and caused the ‘late heavy bombardment’ if intense meteoric impact that effected the Earth and other inner solar system bodies.
Our strategy is to develop a focused, mechanistic and testable hypothesis for the mineralogical, chemical and spectral changes that occurred to the small, icy outer solar system bodies that experienced this orbital re-organization, based on telescopic observations of these bodies and laboratory experiments conducted on analogues. This work will lead to a method for identifying specific bodies that underwent dramatic migration, and to predictions regarding the chemical and isotopic composition of near-surface materials that would be found on such a body if it were examined with a suite of in-situ analytical instruments. Our broader purpose is to define the specific goals and instrumentation needs of a future mission to such a body. Our hope is that this work will lead to a successful proposal for such a mission, and thus catalyze a large advance in our understanding of solar system evolution and the nature and history of the many small icy bodies that populate the outer solar system.