Penn State is building an Extreme Precision Doppler Spectrograph to provide next-generation exoplanet observational capabilities to the entire astronomical community. The spectrograph will be deployed in 2019 on the 3.5-meter WIYN Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona.
The instrument is named NEID – derived from the word meaning “to see” in the native language of the Tohono O’odham, on whose land Kitt Peak National Observatory is located. NEID also is short for “NN-EXPLORE Exoplanet Investigations with Doppler Spectroscopy.” NEID will detect planets by the tiny gravitational tug they exert on their stars.
NEID is being developed as part of a joint initiative between NASA and the National Science Foundation called NN-Explore, the purpose of which is to discover and characterize planets around nearby stars (so-called “exoplanets”) using the Doppler (or Radial Velocity) technique. The Doppler method of exoplanet discovery relies on making ultra-precise measurements of a star’s line-of-sight motion to detect the tiny gravitational perturbations of the planets that orbit that star.
NEID is being designed and built by a team of astronomers and engineers led by Principal Investigator Suvrath Mahadevan at Penn State University. The NEID instrument team is comprised of members from Penn State, in addition to collaborators at the University of Pennsylvania, Macquarie University, the Physical Research Laboratory in India, the National Institute of Standards and Technology/University of Colorado, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
A multi-institutional team led by Penn State was one of two finalists in a global competition to design the $10 million instrument, and was selected after a comprehensive design review.