Abstract

The MINiature Exoplanet Radial Velocity Array (MINERVA) is a US-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. In this article, 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, CA, and their on-sky performance is validated. 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 facility is now in the process of being relocated to its final destination at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in southern Arizona, and science operations will begin in 2015.

Department(s)

Physics, Astronomy, and Materials Science

Document Type

Article

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1117/1.JATIS.1.2.027002

Rights Information

Copyright 2014 Society of Photo‑Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic reproduction and distribution, duplication of any material in this publication for a fee or for commercial purposes, and modification of the contents of the publication are prohibited.

Publication Date

2014

Recommended Citation

Swift, Jonathan J., Michael Bottom, John A. Johnson, Jason T. Wright, Nate McCrady, Rob Wittenmeyer, Peter P. Plavchan et al. "Miniature Exoplanet Radial Velocity Array I: Design, Commissioning, and Early Photometric Results." Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems 1, no. 2 (2015): 027002.

Journal Title

Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems

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