What happens when you have some of the very best brains around, with a healthy budget to play with, merged with the sense of adventure to look out for what lies beyond? Well, NASA has all of the above qualities as an organization, and they are investing $10 million in an instrument that is specially meant to hunt for exoplanets – albeit in three years’ time, that is, 2019.
Both NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have come together to form a special team of astronomers so that they can pit their brains together in working on a new and powerful exoplanet hunter. How did NASA narrow down on the scientists who were eligible for this project? They held a national competition and will be led by Penn State University assistant professor Suvrath Mahadevan.
Over the course of the next three years, expect them to construct an instrument worth $10 million, where it will be known as the NN-EXPLORE Exoplanet Investigations with Doppler Spectroscopy (NEID) in this joint venture. Upon completion of the NN-EXPLORE, this instrument will then be on the 3.5-meter WIYN observatory that is located at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona as it gets to work then. This will be part of an effort by NASA to look for proof of life outside of our own planet, which is certainly an unenviable task. [Press Release]