From M To R: Enabling Technologies For Detecting And Characterizing Exo-Earths From The Ground (speaker: Sam Halverson, University Of Pennsylvania)

Monday December 18, 2017 12:05 pm
Marlar Lounge 37-252

The discovery of Earth-like exoplanets has profound implications for our understanding of the origins and diversity of life in the universe. As such, developing new and improved ground-based instruments capable of discovering and characterizing these elusive planets is a high priority within the astronomical community. Detecting a true Earth-analog, however, remains beyond the technical reach of current ground-based instruments. I will discuss the ongoing development of two next generation Doppler radial velocity spectrometers, the NSF-funded Habitable-zone Planet Finder (HPF) and the NASA-funded Extreme Precision Doppler Spectrometer ‘NEID’. Both HPF and NEID are designed specifically to search for low-mass planets orbiting in the Habitable-Zones of a variety of nearby stars, and will leverage a suite of new photonic and optomechanical technologies to reach previously unattainable spectroscopic measurement precisions in the optical and near-infrared. Beyond RV spectroscopy, I will also discuss a path towards achieving space-quality photometry from the ground using novel diffuser technologies, and present recent results from our work on the ARCTIC imager on the 3.5 m ARC telescope. Moving forward, these instruments will be indispensable tools for measuring the masses and densities of planets identified by TESS, and play key roles in directing future atmospheric characterization studies with JWST.