Tracking near-Earth objects from La Silla
The Test-Bed Telescope (TBT) is a project in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) hosted at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in northern Chile. It is designed to survey transients and fast-moving objects.
Operating alongside a similar project in the northern hemisphere, the 56-cm Test-Bed Telescope will act as a precursor to a full autonomous optical telescope network and provide surveillance and tracking services for artificial and natural near-Earth objects (NEOs). These planned future systems will be entirely robotic, managed by software that performs real-time scheduling of the observations. At the end of the night the observing systems will report the positions and other information of the objects detected.
The Test-Bed Telescope will demonstrate and validate the instrument’s hardware and software capabilities, such as automatic scheduling, remote real-time control, and autonomous data processing.
The TBT’s northern hemisphere counterpart is located at the Cebreros Satellite Tracking Station in Spain.The Test-Bed Telescope is the first project to be implemented under a cooperation agreement between ESO and ESA. Signed in August 2015, the agreement set the terms and conditions for a mutual cooperation and the exchange of scientific research information between the two organisations.