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Yale Lab: Photo by Colby Jurgenson

Instrumentation

BEFORE WE CAN CHARACTERIZE EXOPLANETS, WE HAVE TO FIND THEM.

The Doppler technique uniquely measures the masses of exoplanets. It is the combination of mass and radius (provided by Doppler and Transit measurements respectively) that permit a calculation of bulk density and other parameters needed to establish the liklihood of habitability. High precision Doppler measurements are used for the detection of exoplanets and they provide critical support for exoplanet space missions.

The goal of our instrument development is to invigorate the field of exoplanets by building instruments that reach higher measurement precision. We are systematically investigating design trade-offs for achieving sub meter per second Doppler precision. The push to higher precision requires excellence in instrumentation and analysis techniques, and a deep understanding of velocity flows on the surface of the star.

We commissioned our first spectrograph, CHIRON, in January 2011. We are commissioning our second high resolution spectrometer at the Moletai Observatory in Lithuania in June 2015 (shipped May 26, 2015). We are now building the EXPRES spectrograph for the Discovery Channel Telescope. The telescope interface for that instrument will be installed by the end of 2015 and EXPRES will be fully commissioned by Spring 2017.

spectra
Photo by Will Rutter
 

Instrumentation