Miniature Exoplanet Radial Velocity Array I: Design, commissioning, and early photometric results

Jonathan J. Swift, Michael Bottom, John A. Johnson, Jason T. Wright, Nate McCrady, Robert A. Wittenmyer, Peter Plavchan, Reed Riddle, Philip S. Muirhead, Erich Herzig, Justin Myles, Cullen H. Blake, Jason Eastman, Thomas G. Beatty, Stuart I. Barnes, Steven R. Gibson, Brian Lin, Ming Zhao, Paul Gardner, Emilio FalcoStephen Criswell, Chantanelle Nava, Connor Robinson, David H. Sliski, Richard Hedrick, Kevin Ivarsen, Annie Hjelstrom, Jon De Vera, Andrew Szentgyorgyi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number027002
JournalJournal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems
Volume1
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Instrumentation
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science

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