NASA has brought together a team of astronomers to build an ambitious tool that could help us find new planets — and maybe even some we could call home in the future.
According to Engadget, the U.S. space agency has teamed with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to build what’s been described as an “exoplanet hunter.” The astronomers and scientists behind the project were chosen via a national competition led by Penn State University assistant professor Suvrath Mahadevan.
The device will hunt for planets, with a special attention on Earth-like planets (i.e. ones that orbit a sun and could be habitable). It’ll do this by looking at the “wobble” of the star, which is the movement caused by the gravitational pull of a potential orbiting planet. Once extrapolated, that information could explain how big the nearby planet might be. Ideally, the research team hopes this device will allow scientists to eventually find a truly habitable world out there.
From here, the team will spend $10 million over the next three years building the NN-EXPLORE Exoplanet Investigations with Doppler Spectroscopy (NEID). The device will eventually be installed on the 3.5-meter WIYN observatory at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona.