“That image is an image of the deep universe. It is immensely far. And this captured image serves to demonstrate the enormous potential and capacity of that telescope that belongs to the SST network. And when you can observe the Andromeda galaxy at that distance, with that detail, we can to have a clear idea of the potential of that equipment “, explained Luís Santos, coordinator of the Azores Mission Structure for Space, which is dependent on the regional secretariat for the Sea, Science and Technology.
The device is installed in the Science and Technology Park on the island of Terceira – TERINOV and captured, for the first time, the Andromeda galaxy, “a spiral galaxy located more than 2.5 million light years away from Earth”.
The SST project is a European program that aims to monitor objects in orbits close to those on Earth, which may be small asteroids or the so-called space junk, satellite debris, inoperable satellites or machines that, meanwhile, have been adrift in nearby space. of the land for some reason.
“This technological and spatial waste is adrift in space close to the earth and is in fact an imminent danger for the space infrastructures that are already in space (communications or earth observation satellites), but they are also an imminent danger for access to space, “said Luís Santos, speaking to the Lusa agency.
The national entity responsible for the SST program is the General Directorate of National Defense Resources, which is integrated in the structure of the Ministry of National Defense, with the Government of the Azores being the partner entity.
According to Luís Santos, the Azores participate in this project “ensuring the installation of various equipment and sensors to observe space in orbits close to the earth, but in areas above the Atlantic”.
Within the scope of this European program, to monitor and predict trajectories of objects in Earth’s orbit, the Azores will host the Space Operations Center (COpE) and two optical telescopes, one now installed in Terceira and the other to be installed during the next week in Santa Maria .
“We are currently finishing the adaptation of TERINOV rooms, on Terceira island, to assemble the national datacenter. At the same time, during the past week we installed the first optical telescope to be put into operation in Portugal for the SST network,” he said to Lusa.
The coordinator of the Azores Mission Structure for Space highlighted to Lusa the potential of the telescope now installed in Terceira, which allows “the protection of equipment that serves thousands of people on Earth and that costs millions of euros to put up there”.
For the official, the potential “is even greater when we think that nobody else can observe the North Atlantic. Only the Azores can observe the North Atlantic”.
After the certification period is over, the device will be “working directly for the SST”, added the official, adding that the telescope has “the ability to observe in detail objects in orbits close to those of Earth” that “represent imminent danger both on re-entry and for the protection of satellites “.
“Putting a satellite in orbit costs tens of millions of euros. And, in fact, a screw with a centimeter in diameter, if it hits a satellite in orbit, it immediately destroys the satellite,” he said.