New Mexico Exoplanet Spectroscopic Survey Instrument
The New Mexico Exoplanet Spectroscopic Survey Instrument (NESSI) is a ground-based instrument specifically designed to study the atmospheres of exoplanets. The $3.5 million instrument is the first purpose-built device for the analysis of exoplanet atmospheres, and is expected to have a powerful impact on the field of exoplanet characterization.
The Principal Investigator is Michele Creech-Eakman at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, working with seven co-investigators. The NESSI instrument was mounted on the institute's 2.4 meter telescope at the Magdalena Ridge Observatory in Socorro County, New Mexico, USA. It is partly funded by NASA's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, in partnership with the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. The instrument is currently being calibrated and its first exoplanet observations are expected to begin in the summer of 2014.
The novel technology is expected to achieve high definition readings by using algorithms to calibrate and compensate for time-variable telluric features and instrumental variability throughout an observation.
NESSI will be able to detect and study a wide range of wavelengths in the near-infrared region of the light spectrum. NESSI will be used to study about 100 exoplanets, ranging from massive 'super-Earths' to gas giants. It uses a technique called transit spectroscopy, in which a planet is observed as it crosses in front of, then behind, its parent star. The observed light is beamed through a spectrometer that breaks it apart, ultimately revealing chemicals that make up the planet's atmosphere. NESSI is expected to devote about 50 nights per year for surveying exoplanets via infrared spectroscopy.
- Whitney, Clavin (17 April 2014). "Exoplanets Soon to Gleam in the Eye of NESSI". NASA (California: Jet Propulsion Laboratory). Retrieved 2014-04-21.
- "NESSI - New Mexico Exoplanet Spectroscopic Survey Instrument". New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. April 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-21.
- Martin, Bob (4 April 2014). "NM Tech Exoplanet Search: Is Earth Alone?". QRKE. Retrieved 2014-04-21.
- "NESSI - Proposed Research" (PDF). New Mexico Space Grant. 2008.
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