AD Stories: Alan Fitzsimmons on an Impactful Night in SudanAD Stories: Alan Fitzsimmons on an Impactful Night in Sudan https://asteroidday-uploads.s3.eu-central-1.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/11033856/Alan-Fitzsimmons-%C2%A9-Max-Alexander-Asteroid-Day.jpg 4361 2902 Asteroid Day https://asteroidday-uploads.s3.eu-central-1.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/11033856/Alan-Fitzsimmons-%C2%A9-Max-Alexander-Asteroid-Day.jpg
Yesterday we heard about the importance of international collaboration in the hunt for asteroids and asteroid research. Alan Fitzsimmons, Professor of Astronomy at the Queen’s University Belfast Astrophysics Research Centre, provides us with a fascinating example of such collaboration. He vividly remembers the events of one tense, impactful night, an asteroid impact and great memories. Here’s what he had to say.
“I guess the story I could tell is of the night 2008TC3 impacted over Sudan. We were lucky to have 2 of our team members out at a telescope about to do spectroscopy of Near-Earth Asteroids. I was already back home from the office when I started to see the announcements and emails from the MPC and JPL, so quickly started emails and phone calls. We were fortunate to get early access to the telescope for an hour that evening, and successfully managed to get the spectrum of the asteroid just over 4 hours before impact.
I’ll never forget the excitement of that night, doing the preliminary analysis of the data over the next hour before the asteroid hit.
“I’ll never forget the excitement of that night, keeping in contact with my team out on La Palma, hearing the observations were successful, then all of us doing the preliminary analysis of the data over the next hour before the asteroid hit. I’ve just been re-reading the emails I kept from that night, and the hairs are raising on my arms!
“For those not familiar with the story, a popular-level article written by a young journalist when the scientific paper was published won an award and is a good read.
“My only regret was that I never got to join Peter Jenniskens in searching for the fragments in the Sudan Desert. Let’s hope next time we have more than 13 hours warning!”
(Image credits: © Max Alexander / Asteroid Day)
Read Sabinije von Gaffke’s story here.
Read Mark Boslough’s story here.
Read Rusty Schweickart’s story here.
Read Patrick Michel’s story here.
Read Mario Jurić’s story here.