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ESA and Calar Alto have signed a collaboration agreement for the exclusive remote use of the 80 cm. Schmidt Telescope.
NEOs (Near Earth Objects) are comets or asteroids which their orbits, possibly modified by gravitational pull of planets, lead them to regions near to the Earth orbit. Although possibilities of an impact against the Earth are very reduced, the scientific community are developing programs for detecting and studying such objects. Calar Alto Observatory (CAHA, MPG/CSIC) has signed an agreement with European Space Agency (ESA) for the exclusive use of one of its telescopes in ESA’s NEOs detection campaign.
NEOs can have very variable sizes, from a few meters to dozens of kilometers. Of the six hundred thousand asteroids discovered about ten thousand came into the category of NEOs. “NEOs have to be studied in deep, not only for the information they can give us about formation and evolution of our Solar System, but because we must know their physic properties as better as possible in order to have a future capacity for deviating them and avoid colliding with them”, Calar Alto Observatory Deputy Director Jesús Aceituno points.
The agreement, which includes a first stage until March 2017, and is automatically renewable, yields the use of the 80 cm. Schmidt Telescope to ESA. It is a telescope that had fallen into disuse in 2001, and Observatory technicians have recovered it for remote observation.
“Repair and adaptation of the telescope has been possible thanks to the efforts of the Observatory staff and with a very low cost, but it will provide a source of substantial incomes and it will put the Observatory in a reference position in a new field of research”, Jesús Aceituno says.
The German-Spanish Calar Alto Observatory is located at Sierra de los Filabres, north of Almería (Andalucía, Spain). It is jointly operated by the Instituto Max Planck de Astronomía in Heidelberg, Germany, and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC) in Granada, Spain. Calar Alto has three telescopes with apertures of 1.23m, 2.2m and 3.5m. A 1.5m aperture telescope, also located at the mountain, is operated under control of the Observatorio de Madrid.