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Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems • Open Access

Miniature Exoplanet Radial Velocity Array I: design, commissioning, and early photometric results
Author(s): Jonathan J. Swift; Michael Bottom; John A. Johnson; Jason T. Wright; Nate McCrady; Rob Wittenmeyer; Peter P. Plavchan; Reed L. Riddle; Philip S. Muirhead; Erich Herzig; Justin Myles; Cullen H. Blake; Jason D. Eastman; Thomas G. Beatty; Stuart I. Barnes; Steven R. Gibson; Brian Lin; Ming Zhao; Paul Gardner; Emilio E. Falco; Stephen Criswell; Chantanelle Nava; Connor Robinson; David H. Sliski; Richard Hedrick; Kevin Ivarsen; Annie Hjelstrom; Jon de Vera; Andrew Szentgyorgyi

Paper Abstract

The Miniature Exoplanet Radial Velocity Array (MINERVA) is a U.S.-based observational facility dedicated to the discovery and characterization of exoplanets around a nearby sample of bright stars. MINERVA employs a robotic array of four 0.7-m telescopes outfitted for both high-resolution spectroscopy and photometry, and is designed for completely autonomous operation. The primary science program is a dedicated radial velocity survey and the secondary science objective is to obtain high-precision transit light curves. The modular design of the facility and the flexibility of our hardware allows for both science programs to be pursued simultaneously, while the robotic control software provides a robust and efficient means to carry out nightly observations. We describe the design of MINERVA, including major hardware components, software, and science goals. The telescopes and photometry cameras are characterized at our test facility on the Caltech campus in Pasadena, California, and their on-sky performance is validated. The design and simulated performance of the spectrograph is briefly discussed as we await its completion. New observations from our test facility demonstrate sub-mmag photometric precision of one of our radial velocity survey targets, and we present new transit observations and fits of WASP-52b—a known hot-Jupiter with an inflated radius and misaligned orbit. The process of relocating the MINERVA hardware to its final destination at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in southern Arizona has begun, and science operations are expected to commence in 2015.

Paper Details

Date Published: 21 April 2015
PDF: 19 pages
J. Ast. Inst. Sys. 1(2) 027002 doi: 10.1117/1.JATIS.1.2.027002
Published in: Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems Volume 1, Issue 2
Show Author Affiliations
Jonathan J. Swift, California Institute of Technology (United States)
Michael Bottom, California Institute of Technology (United States)
John A. Johnson, Harvard-Smithsonian Ctr. for Astrophysics (United States)
Jason T. Wright, The Pennsylvania State Univ. (United States)
Nate McCrady, The Univ. of Montana (United States)
Rob Wittenmeyer, The Univ. of New South Wales (Australia)
Peter P. Plavchan, Missouri State Univ. (United States)
Reed L. Riddle, California Institute of Technology (United States)
Philip S. Muirhead, Boston Univ. (United States)
Erich Herzig, California Institute of Technology (United States)
Justin Myles, Yale Univ. (United States)
Cullen H. Blake, Univ. of Pennsylvania (United States)
Jason D. Eastman, Harvard-Smithsonian Ctr. for Astrophysics (United States)
Thomas G. Beatty, The Pennsylvania State Univ. (United States)
Stuart I. Barnes, Stuart Barnes Optical Design (The Netherlands)
Steven R. Gibson, Univ. of Canterbury (New Zealand)
Brian Lin, California Institute of Technology (United States)
Ming Zhao, The Pennsylvania State Univ. (United States)
Paul Gardner, California Institute of Technology (United States)
Emilio E. Falco, Harvard-Smithsonian Ctr. for Astrophysics (United States)
Stephen Criswell, Harvard-Smithsonian Ctr. for Astrophysics (United States)
Chantanelle Nava, The Univ. of Montana (United States)
Connor Robinson, The Univ. of Montana (United States)
David H. Sliski, Univ. of Pennsylvania (United States)
Richard Hedrick, PlaneWave Instruments (United States)
Kevin Ivarsen, PlaneWave Instruments (United States)
Annie Hjelstrom, Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (United States)
Jon de Vera, Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (United States)
Andrew Szentgyorgyi, Harvard-Smithsonian Ctr. for Astrophysics (United States)


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