NEOShield-2 / La Silla Adventures #2

Our NEOShield-2 expert, Davide Perna is currently in Chile to study the physical properties of small near-Earth asteroids. Follow his adventures and discoveries at the La Silla observatory!

La Silla observatory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… and the first observing night went well! Unfortunately the sky was not that good, as I had to observe through some thin clouds during the whole night (but at least I could take some nice pictures at the sunset!). This obliged me to use exposure times longer than foreseen, but I could still acquire the spectra of 10 small near-Earth asteroids whose physical properties are still basically unknown. Once I will be back in Paris I will start to analyse this bunch of data to “grasp” the nature of these asteroids. Right now I’m in the telescope control room ready for our second and last night of this observing run (see the picture and add nice music in the air to have an idea of the atmosphere here)… I will let you know how it goes!

🙂 Ciao!
Davide

La Silla observatory

 

NEOShield-2 / La Silla Adventures #1

Our NEOShield-2 expert, Davide Perna is currently in Chile to study the physical properties of small near-Earth asteroids. Follow his adventures and discoveries at the La Silla observatory!La Silla observatory

Hello,

On Friday afternoon I took a flight from Santiago to La Serena, and then a shuttle bus, to reach the La Silla observatory, 600 km north of Santiago and at an altitude of 2400 metres. I’m very glad to be here again, almost 8 years after my last visit (I was acquiring data for my PhD at that time). This is a really wonderful place, where the subtle color variations of the desertic mountains are just interrupted here and there with sporadic vegetation. And… with snow! Indeed some astronomers working here told me that during the last week the weather has been very bad (this happens even in the best astronomical sites, every now and then!), and they lost a lot of observing time. Luckily, the sky is now clear and the weather will hopefully remain good during our NEOShield-2 observations… fingers crossed! Before having dinner, at sunset I had a walk around: I love how the mountains and the telescopes (you can see “my” NTT telescope in a picture) take on a reddish tinge at this time… and when darkness finally falls, thousands and thousands of stars start to twinkle, and the Milky Way appears in all of its splendor. A magnificent sight that helps me stay awake until dawn, “training” for being more efficient next night, when I will start my near-Earth asteroid observations… of which I will tell you soon!

Davide

 

La Silla observatory

Sunset on the NTT telescope at La Silla obsevatory, Chile

La Silla observatory

Sunset on the beautiful mountains surrounding La Silla observatory, Chile

NEOShield-2 / La Silla Adventures #0

Our NEOShield-2 expert, Davide Perna is currently in Chile to study the physical properties of small near-Earth asteroids. Follow his adventures and discoveries at the La Silla observatory!

 La Silla Observatory

 

Hi folks,

I arrived yesterday morning in Santiago de Chile, after a 14-hour long flight from Paris. I’m now in the guest-house that ESO (the European Southern Observatory) makes available for people working at its observational sites here in Chile. It’s a very nice place where I could rest and work a little bit, before leaving today for the La Silla observatory. La Silla is located at the outskirts of the Atacama desert, one of the driest and darkest regions in the world. Such climate is perfect for astronomical observations, like those for the NEOShield-2 project that I will perform for two nights starting on Saturday, using the 3.6-m New Technology Telescope (ESO-NTT). The goal of our observations is to get the spectrum of several small (< 300 m) near-Earth asteroids, in order to study their composition; this will also give us some hints about their albedo – i.e. the fraction of solar light that they reflect – and hence their actual size. Our knowledge of these “mitigation-relevant” physical properties is still very limited for the small near-Earth asteroid population, and considerably improving such knowledge is an important task to be accomplished by NEOShield-2!

Can’t wait to be there and start to acquire (hopefully excellent) data… Stay tuned!

Davide

 

NEOShield Final Presentation held at the European Commission in Brussels

The NEOShield Final Presentation has been held on June, 25th last week in Brussels to the REA project officers, the project reviewers and representatives of the European Commission.

NEOShield Final Presentation

[Alan Harris (DLR) as NEOShield Project Coordinator presents an overview of the project achievements]

NEOShield Final Presentation

[Line Drube (DLR) illustrates the different mission types considered for identification of a suitable demonstration target]

As an executive summary, the Final Presentation as well as the NEOShield Project in general, were both considered a great success, and much praise was expressed by the audience. The project itself has elaborated and presented outstanding results in multiple disciplines and moreover dealt very successfully with the challenge such a large project consortium reveals. In particular the inter-disciplinary and active collaboration among the partners leading to these exceptional results has been evaluated as a great success.

 

NEOShield Final Presentation

[Group picture after the NEOShield Project Final Presentation]