All four MINERVA telescopes, plus the MINERVA Red telescope located at FLWO taken during commissioning in May 2015. Credit: J. Eastman.
A dedicated exoplanet observatory
The MINiature Exoplanet Radial Velocity Array (MINERVA) is an array of small-aperture robotic telescopes outfitted for both photometry and high-resolution spectroscopy located at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory at Mt. Hopkins, Arizona. It is the first U.S. observatory dedicated to exoplanetary science capable of both precise radial velocity and transit studies. The multi-telescope concept is implemented to either observe separate targets or a single target with a larger effective aperture. The flexibility of the observatory maximizes scientific potential and also provides ample opportunities for education and public outreach. The design and implementation of MINERVA is carried out by professors, research associates, postdocs, and students at all levels at Harvard, University of Montana, Penn State, University of New South Wales, Caltech, UPenn, and University of Missouri.
The primary science goal of MINERVA is to discover Earth-like planets in close-in (less than 50-day) orbits around nearby stars, and super-Earths (3-15 times the mass of Earth) in the habitable zones of the closest Sun-like stars. The secondary goal will be to look for transits (eclipses) of known and newly-discovered extrasolar planets, which provide information about the radii and interior structures of the planets. This second goal uses the proven method used by the Kepler Mission, and the unique design of the MINERVA observatory allows us to pursue both goals simultaneously.
MINERVA began regular science operations at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory for imaging in May 2015. The spectrograph was delivered in Dec 2015 and began routine spectroscopic observations in 2016. MINERVA Red is being commissioned in 2019
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- "KELT-24b: A 5MJ Planet on a 5.6 day Well-Aligned Orbit around the Young V=8.3 F-star HD 93148",Rodriguez et al., 2019, ApJ, Submitted (arXiv:1906.03276)
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- "KELT-11b: A Highly Inflated Sub-Saturn Exoplanet Transiting the V = 8 Subgiant HD 93396",Pepper et. al., 2017, AJ, 153, 215
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- "A disintegrating minor planet transiting a white dwarf", Vanderburg et. al., 2015, Nature, 526, 7574
- "Miniature Exoplanet Radial Velocity Array (MINERVA) I. Design, Commissioning, and First Science Results", Swift et. al., 2015, JATIS, 1, 2
M51 taken with an Andor camera mounted on T3 located at FLWO UT 2015-05-07. Credit: T. Beatty