The currently on-going workshop on the asteroid hazard jointly organized by EU and ESA is devoted to the so-called “Imminet Impactors”. These are small objects (tens of meters in size) yet capable of producing significant damage upon reaching the ground. Properly facing this threat is challenging since the small size makes an imminent impactor observable only shortly (about one week) before impact.
Therefore a quick assessment not only of its trajectory but also of its physical properties must be carried out in order to timely provide civil protection with the information needed to plan and execute mitgation actions. This is why within the EU NEOROCKS project, led by INAF with the ASI participation, a “rapid response experiment” is foreseen. The aim is to check how far one can go in organizing a quick follow-up observation campaign of a potential imminent impactor, through federating European assets.
The experiment has been successfully carried out, as part of the WP6 activities on international cooperation led by ASI, on newly discovered asteroid 2022 GC1. In a matter of days the algorithms developed by SpaceDys to remotely task the DESS (Deimos Sky Survey) robotic telescopes have allowed to spot 2022 GC1 in the sky and drive the pointing of TNG - Telescopio Nazionale Galileo (operated by INAF at the Canary Islands), equipped with the instrumentation for physical characterization. An outstanding results presented at the EU-ESA workshop with a strategic value in the framework of the EU Planetary Defence initiatives included in the new EU Space Programme.
Photo caption: TNG - Telescopio Nazionale Galileo (INAF) and the asteroid 2022 GC1 observation (framed picture with arrow)