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Early observations of asteroid 2012 DA14 by FRAM robotic telescope
 FRAM robotic telescope of Pierre Auger observatory at Los Leones, Argentina, is operated by Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences. The telescope, equipped with Gx CCD cameras, was among the first optical telescopes, which captured approaching asteroid 2012 DA14.

The asteroid 2012 DA14 was captured by FRAM telescope in Argentina, remotely operated by Martin Masek from Europe, on the night from February 14th to 15th, 2013. Asteroid distance from Earth was 450,000 km, pretty far compared to lowest distance of only 28,000 km during its closest approach to Earth the following night (the 2012 DA14 diameter is only around 30 m). The image bellow is a sum of twenty exposures, each only 10 seconds long. The asteroid itself was used as a reference point during stacking of individual images, so background stars appear as short lines.

2012 DA14 on co-added exposure captured by FRAM

2012 DA14 on co-added exposure captured by FRAM

This particular image was the first one captured with FRAM operating within the European project GLORIA (GLObal Robotic-telescopes Intelligent Array). So the image was published by numerous media, including NASA web site, the Guardian newspaper and various online magazines all over the world.

Animation below shows motion of the asteroid, this time with stars fixed. 2012 DA14 is the small black dot (individual frames are inverted to negative) moving in the center of the image.

2012 DA14 animation shows its movement among background stars (vertical strike on one frame is a trace of some artificial Earth satellite)

2012 DA14 animation shows its movement among background stars (vertical strike on one frame is a trace of some artificial Earth satellite)

The FRAM telescope itself is 12 inch (305 mm) f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with 0.66× reducer on Paramount ME mount, equipped with G2-1600 scientific camera with internal filter wheel and UBVRI photometric filters. There are also 200 mm photographic lens for wide field imaging, only recently upgraded with wide field G4-16000 camera and EFW4-5 filter wheel and UBVRI filters, and a guiding telescope with G1-0300 camera piggybacked on the main OTA. The whole setup is controlled by RTS2 software package.

FRAM robotic telescope with equipped G1, G2 and G4 CCD cameras

FRAM robotic telescope with equipped G1, G2 and G4 CCD cameras

  • Images of 2012 DA14 courtesy of Martin Masek (GLORIA/FRAM/Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences).

  • This article is based on text by Michael Prouza (Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences).

  • Another article about FRAM on this web site.

 
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