Future analog MEarth project in Italian Alps (APACHE project)

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Future analog MEarth project in Italian Alps (APACHE project)

Post by Borislav on 2nd December 2009, 1:26 pm

http://arxiv.org/abs/0911.3587

Abstract.
A feasibility study was carried out at the Astronomical Observatory of the Autonomous Region of the Aosta Valley demonstrating that it is a well-poised site to conduct an upcoming observing campaign aimed at detecting small-size (R<R Neptune) transiting planets around nearby cool M dwarf stars. Three known transiting planet systems were monitored from May to August 2009 with a 25 cm f/3.8 Maksutov telescope. We reached seeing-independent, best-case photometric RMS less than 0.003 mag for stars with V<13, with a median RMS of 0.006 mag for the whole observing period.





4. Conclusions and Future Work
The feasibility study demonstrated that the OAVdA is a promising site for a long-term photometric survey aimed to detect transiting low-mass, small-size planets. We are planning to set up a system of five 40 cm identical telescopes for an high-precision observing campaign focused on several hundreds nearby M dwarfs, improving the longitudinal coverage of similar programs already ongoing, such as the Arizona-based MEarth project (Nutzman & Charbonneau 2008).



Last edited by Borislav on 20th July 2010, 3:02 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Future analog MEarth project in Italian Alps (APACHE project)

Post by Borislav on 20th July 2010, 8:29 am

http://arxiv.org/abs/1007.0252

The results of the site testing campaign show conclusively that OAVdA is a suitable choice for hosting a long-term photometric survey for transiting planets around cool stars in the solar neighborhood. A preliminary step towards the definition of such a long-term photometric transit search program is the ’pilot study’ which we have begun earlier this year. We are devoting one of the 250 mm telescopes and the 400 mm instrument to the
I-band photometric monitoring of  50 M dwarfs, within  25 pc from the Sun, with high-precision parallax estimates determined within the context of the TOPP program (Smart et al. 2007, 2010). This study, with a targeted duration of less than 1 year, aims at obtaining uniform photometric monitoring of all targets (on the order of at least a few weeks of data per target), with the goal of providing benchmarks for the photometric micro-variability characteristics of M dwarfs as a function of their spectral sub-type (the stars in our sample span the range M0 through M9), in relation to other, primarily spectroscopic, activity indexes (e.g., based on H, Ca II lines emission). While the pilot study will likely not detect any planetary transits (given the limited number of objects in the target sample), the large photometric dataset collected will help us placing useful reference points for improved understanding of the impact on transiting planets detectability of stellar activity-related phenomena (e.g., spot-induced rotational modulation), and the prospects for taking them into account via detailed modeling procedures.


In parallel to the science-driven activities of the pilot study, we are making progress in the re-organization of the scientific terrace for the purpose of hosting multiple identical 400-mm robotic telescope systems (at least five), the start of the operations of the first pair being envisaged in connection with the end of the pilot study (Fall 2010). The hardware and software requirements for the control system for data taking and storage have been clearly idefined. Finally, as mentioned in
3.3, necessary upgrades to the TEEPEE automated data reduction and analysis pipeline are being considered, in order to increase its functionality and robustness, ahead of the official start of our Western Italian Alps photometric transit search for planets around M dwarfs.


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Re: Future analog MEarth project in Italian Alps (APACHE project)

Post by Borislav on 20th July 2010, 3:05 pm


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Re: Future analog MEarth project in Italian Alps (APACHE project)

Post by Borislav on 26th December 2012, 2:26 pm

http://www.oato.inaf.it/astrometry/Gaia_Italia/Partecipazione_Italiana/Convegni/Futuri/GREATWorkshop2012/TalkAbstract/Wednesday7/Damasso.html

APACHE (A PAthway toward the Characterization of Habitable Earths) is designed to use an array of five dedicated and identical 40-cm RC telescopes, each of them monitoring dozens of stars every night.

We will highlight the main steps undertaken for the purpose of the design and development of the APACHE survey, and we will describe the present status of the observing campaign which is officially started in July 2012.

Link project
http://apacheproject.altervista.org/

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