The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have established a new partnership for exoplanet research in response to the recommendation of the Astro2010 Decadal Survey that "NASA and NSF should support an aggressive program of ground-based high-precision radial velocity surveys of nearby stars in order to validate and characterize exoplanet candidates."
This new NASA-NSF Exoplanet Observational Research (NN-EXPLORE) partnership will take advantage of the full National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) share of the 3.5-m Wisconsin, Indiana, Yale, and NOAO (WIYN) telescope on Kitt Peak to provide the community with the tools and access to conduct ground-based observations that advance exoplanet science, with particular emphasis on Kepler, K2, and (eventually) TESS follow-up observations and on observations that inform future NASA missions, such as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope – Astrophysics Focused Telescope Assets (WFIRST-AFTA) mission.
The NN-EXPLORE is implemented in two stages:
Stage 1 – Pre-commissioning (through Sep 2019)
The cornerstone of the NN-EXPLORE partnership will be a new NASA-funded Extreme Precision Doppler Spectrometer (EPDS). The EPDS instrument will be installed as a facility-class instrument on the 3.5-m WIYN telescope, and it will be made available to the scientific community through the NOAO time allocation committee (TAC) process.
NASA has selected a Pennsylvania State University research group, led by Dr. Suvrath Mahadevan, to build the highly precise instrument. NEID will be completed in 2019 and installed on the 3.5-meter WIYN telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona.
Simultaneous with the instrument development, NASA will manage an exoplanet-targeted Guest Observer program with existing instrumentation using NOAO share (40%, approximately 100 nights per year) of WIYN time.
Stage 2 Post-commissioning (Starting in Oct 2019)
After the EPDS instrument is commissioned in the Fall of 2018, the partnership will exploit the new asset and the time available on WIYN telescope to support NASA missions such as Kepler, K2, and TESS. With the focus on science observations, NASA will
• Manage an exoplanet-targeted GO and guaranteed time program at WIYN with EPDS instrument and existing instrumentation on WIYN
NN-EXPLORE Points of Contact
Dr. Douglas Hudgins
Dr. James Neff, Program Director