Volume 619, November 2018
|Number of page(s)||14|
|Published online||16 November 2018|
NELIOTA: The wide-field, high-cadence, lunar monitoring system at the prime focus of the Kryoneri telescope
Institute for Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Applications & Remote Sensing, National Observatory of Athens, P. Penteli, 15236
2 Department of Physics, University of Crete, 71003 Heraklion, Greece
3 DFM Engineering, Inc., 1035 Delaware Avenue, Longmont, CO, 80501 USA
4 Scientific Support Office, Directorate of Science, European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESA/ESTEC), 2201 AZ Noordwijk, The Netherlands
5 Chair of Astronautics, Technical University of Munich, 85748 Garching, Germany
6 European Space Astronomy Centre (ESA/ESAC), Camino bajo del Castillo, s/n, Urbanizacion Villafranca del Castillo, Villanueva de la Cañada, 28692 Madrid, Spain
7 Department of Physics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece
8 Section of Astrophysics, Astronomy and Mechanics, Department of Physics, University of Athens, Zografos, 15783 Athens, Greece
Accepted: 31 August 2018
We present the technical specifications and first results of the ESA-funded, lunar monitoring project “NELIOTA” (NEO Lunar Impacts and Optical TrAnsients) at the National Observatory of Athens, which aims to determine the size-frequency distribution of small near-Earth objects (NEOs) via detection of impact flashes on the surface of the Moon. For the purposes of this project a twin camera instrument was specially designed and installed at the 1.2 m Kryoneri telescope utilizing the fast-frame capabilities of scientific Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor detectors (sCMOS). The system provides a wide field-of-view (17.0′ × 14.4′) and simultaneous observations in two photometric bands (R and I), reaching limiting magnitudes of 18.7 mag in 10 s in both bands at a 2.5 signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) level. This makes it a unique instrument that can be used for the detection of NEO impacts on the Moon, as well as for any astronomy projects that demand high-cadence multicolor observations. The wide field-of-view ensures that a large portion of the Moon is observed, while the simultaneous, high-cadence, monitoring in two photometric bands makes possible the determination of the temperatures of the impacts on the Moon’s surface and the validation of the impact flashes from a single site. Considering the varying background level on the Moon’s surface we demonstrate that the NELIOTA system can detect NEO impact flashes at a 2.5 S/N level of ∼12.4 mag in the I-band and R-band for observations made at low lunar phases (∼0.1). We report 31 NEO impact flashes detected during the first year of the NELIOTA campaign. The faintest flash was at 11.24 mag in the R-band (about two magnitudes fainter than ever observed before) at lunar phase 0.32. Our observations suggest a detection rate of 1.96 × 10−7 events km−2 h−1.
Key words: instrumentation: detectors / techniques: miscellaneous / telescopes / Moon / surveys
© ESO 2018
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