A telescope network for Solar System studies: from stellar occultations to lunar impact flashes.
Session 9.07 Occultations (Targeted)
Thursday 06-27 | 11:40 - 12:00

Stellar occultations are powerful to probe the nature of small Solar System objects with high spatial resolution down to the sub-kilometer level. Applications of the technique include the determination of shapes, sizes, and rotation states, as well as the characterization of the binary population, ring systems, and debris. Additionally, occultations are a source of high-precision astrometry, down to the milliarcsecond level, when using a stellar astrometric catalog like Gaia.

I will present a new project of three telescopes with fast cadence imaging and sub-second absolute timing capabilities designed to observe stellar occultations by trans-Neptunian objects and asteroids. The telescopes will also be used to monitor lunar impact flashes, provoked by impacts of meteoroids on the surface of the Moon.

The telescopes will operate in a synchronized autonomous fashion, allowing us to monitor all the visible occultations of interest, including those with a low probability of success usually neglected by other approaches. To increase the chances of detecting low-probability events, we will perform a large number of attempts.

A three-year initial phase has been funded, right on time to leverage the Gaia astrometric catalog and the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) on what can be qualified as the golden age of occultation studies.

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