LISA Pathfinder spotted!

On the evening of 8 December, LISA Pathfinder was spotted in orbit by a team from DEIMOS Space, working at a new observatory located in Spain:

ESA's LISA Pathfinder spacecraft seen in orbit 8 December 2015 at about 20:50 UT (21:50 CET) from the DeSS Deimos Sky Survey, Niefla Mountain, Spain. LISA Pathfinder is the oblong blog seen at middle-left. Image credit: Deimos/N. Sánchez-Ortiz, J. Nomen, M. Hurtado

ESA’s LISA Pathfinder spacecraft seen in orbit 8 December 2015 at about 20:50 UT (21:50 CET) from the DeSS Deimos Sky Survey, Niefla Mountain, Spain. LISA Pathfinder is the oblong blog seen moving from upper-right to middle-left. Image credit: Deimos/N. Sánchez-Ortiz, J. Nomen, M. Hurtado

We received a note from Noelia Sánchez-Ortiz, one of the observers, from DEIMOS:

Our observation team during that night was myself, J. Nomen and M. Hurtado. We also had support from a number of colleagues at DEIMOS (from the company’s Space Situational Awareness division), especially for development of some of the software tools we use at the observatory. The image was taken at the Deimos Sky Survey, a new observatory set up by ELECNOR DEIMOS.  Conditions were a bit tough as the spacecraft came up only 15 degrees above horizon, so it was a challenge!

DeSS Deimos Sky Survey, Niefla Mountain, Spain Credit: Elecnor DEIMOS

DeSS Deimos Sky Survey, Niefla Mountain, Spain Credit: Elecnor DEIMOS

The observatory is located on Niefla Mountain (N38.54362 W4.40844), not too far from Ciudad Real, south and west of Madrid, and it hosts three optical sensors. These are being developed for future surveys of space debris and asteroids (the site is now in the commissioning phase). At the time of the imaging, LISA Pathfinder was about 11 000 km above the centre of Earth.

Thank you, Noelia and team, for a fabulous image!

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