Observatorio Astronůmico de La Sagra


LSSS Comets 2008 TC3 SpaceDebris Names Webcam




Herschel Space Observatory and Planck

(and debris objects)
tracked by
La Sagra Sky Survey, Spain



Stack of six 120s exposures showing the curved tracks of four objects.
Two of them should be the Herschel and Planck spacecrafts, while the identity of the other two objects
remains somewhat unclear up to now (2009 May 16, 16:00 UT)



The above image is the sum of six single exposures of 120s each with 10min cadence. They were made on 2009 May 16 between 2:45 UT and 3:45 UT with one of La Sagra Sky Survey's 45-cm f/2.8 telescopes. Prior to these observations MPC's DASO circulars #213 and #214 published observations of Herschel and Planck by Richard Miles (E10 Siding Spring-Faulkes Telescope South) and by Peter Birtwhistle (J95 Great Shefford).

LSSS initially tracked these spacecrafts with a 40-cm narrow-field telescope and found objects 1-3. MPC's Gareth Williams and Bill Gray of Project Pluto confirmed that object 3 had been already detected and reported by Richard and Peter. LSSS then decided to take one of the 45-cm wide-field telescopes out of the normal NEO hunting schedule and use it to search for possible other hardware belonging to the Herschel/Planck launch. Consecutively object 4 was detected, moving about 16 arcmin ahead of object 1 and 3 and about 18 arcmin ahead of object 2. Up to now (2009 May 16, 16:00 UT) it is somewhat unclear which objects are Herschel and Planck and even more what the other two objects are. One could be the SYLDA structure that connected both payloads.





Stack of nine 120s exposures showing the trails of six objects related to the Herschel/Planck mission.
The lower three objects labeled 1, 2 and 3 should be Herschel, Planck and the SYLDA structure. In the upper part of
the image the bright object labeled 4 is probably the upper stage ESC-A. The two objects labeled 5 and 6 are new and their
nature is unknown up to now (2009 May 17, 18:00 UT)


The above stack is the sum of nine single images of 120s exposure time each with about 3min cadence. They were made on 2009 May 16 between 21:45 UT and 22:15 UT with one of La Sagra Sky Survey's 45-cm f/2.8 telescopes. Due to the nature of the siderial rate image stacking, the moving objects appear much fainter than on the single images and the two new objects labeled 5 and 6 are hardly visible on the stack.

A zoom view of the objects 4 to 6 is therefore provided in the right part of the collage, showing the faint trails of the objects 5 and 6 more clearly.

The upper left zoom window shows a time sequence of the objects 4 to 6. The nine images were this time stacked in sets of three.  Two parallel lines were added to show the separation of the upper stage (object 4) and the two others on the first stack. It is easily visible how the two faint objects drift away from the upper stage already within half an hour.

For more telescopic tracking information of Herschel/Planck and news regarding the ID of the other objects please check the Minor Planet Mailing List as well as MPC's DASO circulars.


About LSSS: The La Sagra Sky Survey is a survey for asteroids and comets, conducted at the Observatorio de La Sagra (OLS) in Andalusia, Spain. It is operated by the Observatorio Astronomico de Mallorca (OAM), Balearic Islands, Spain.

Photographic material on this page may be used freely for educational purpose if credit is given to the La Sagra Sky Survey (LSSS). For other use please contact OAM staff by email.



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Observatorio Astronůmico de La Sagra
Los Collados
18820 Puebla de Don Fadrique, SPAIN
© Reiner M. Stoss - Contact: click here - latest update: 2010 Feb.