Representatives from the Weizmann Institute’s Physics Faculty in Rehovot joined more than 100 astronomers worldwide in a recent NASA planetary defense exercise.

As part of the exercise, David Polishook, a member of the faculty and also director of Weizmann’s observatory, deleted a previously detected “near-Earth object” asteroid from the asteroid database, to see if it would be “rediscovered” by observatories, as part of the exercise.

Polishook also led the spectral measurements made by the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) in Hawaii, to classify the asteroid’s composition and mass, Weizmann said in a statement. He also made observations from the Wise Observatory near Mitzpe Ramon, Israel, to measure another asteroid’s shape and rotation rate.

A statement by NASA on Tuesday said that the exercise was coordinated by the International Asteroid Warning Network and NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office.

“The exercise confirmed that, from initial detection to follow-up characterization, the international planetary defense community can act swiftly to identify and assess the hazard posed by a new near-Earth asteroid discovery,” said NASA.


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