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3200 Phaethon: Arecibo Back at Work

4 Jan 2018, 18:18 UTC
3200 Phaethon: Arecibo Back at Work
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

With the holidays behind us (alas), I want to be sure to cover the Arecibo observations of asteroid 3200 Phaethon, not only for their intrinsic interest but as a nod to the restoration of operations at the Puerto Rico observatory. We are fortunate indeed that the structural damage Arecibo suffered on September 20 because of hurricane Maria was relatively minor. Radio astronomy work was back in progress within days of the storm, though it took until early December before commercial power was restored and radar work could resume.
If you’re interested in radar astronomy, have a look at Alessondra Springmann’s How Radar Really Works: The Steps Involved Before Getting an Image, which is available via The Planetary Society. Springmann offers a detailed overview of radar operations with a splash of humor:
Arecibo Observatory is known for its 305-meter (1000-foot) diameter telescope and its appearances in Goldeneye and Contact. Aside from battling Bond villains and driving red diesel Jeeps around the telescope (grousing at the site director about the funding status of projects is optional), several hundred hours a year of telescope time at Arecibo go toward radar studies of asteroids. A group of four planetary radar astronomers at Arecibo (as ...

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