24 September 2012 ESPRESSO: the ultimate rocky exoplanets hunter for the VLT
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ESPRESSO, the VLT rocky exoplanets hunter, will combine the efficiency of modern echelle spectrograph with extreme radial-velocity precision. It will be installed at Paranal on ESO's VLT in order to achieve a gain of two magnitudes with respect to its predecessor HARPS, and the instrumental radial-velocity precision will be improved to reach 10 cm/s level. We have constituted a Consortium of astronomical research institutes to fund, design and build ESPRESSO on behalf of and in collaboration with ESO, the European Southern Observatory. The project has passed the preliminary design review in November 2011. The spectrograph will be installed at the so-called "Combined Coudé Laboratory" of the VLT, it will be linked to the four 8.2 meters Unit Telescopes (UT) through four optical "Coudé trains" and will be operated either with a single telescope or with up to four UTs. In exchange of the major financial and human effort the building Consortium will be awarded with guaranteed observing time (GTO), which will be invested in a common scientific program. Thanks to its characteristics and the ability of combining incoherently the light of 4 large telescopes, ESPRESSO will offer new possibilities in many fields of astronomy. Our main scientific objectives are, however, the search and characterization of rocky exoplanets in the habitable zone of quiet, near-by G to M-dwarfs, and the analysis of the variability of fundamental physical constants. In this paper, we present the ambitious scientific objectives, the capabilities of ESPRESSO, the technical solutions for the system and its subsystems, enlightening the main differences between ESPRESSO and its predecessors. The project aspects of this facility are also described, from the consortium and partnership structure to the planning phases and milestones.
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Denis Mégevand, Filippo M. Zerbi, Alexandre Cabral, Paolo Di Marcantonio, Manuel Amate, Francesco Pepe, Stefano Cristiani, Rafael Rebolo, Nuno C. Santos, Hans Dekker, Manuel Abreu, Michael Affolter, Gerardo Avila, Veronica Baldini, Paul Bristow, Christopher Broeg, Pedro Carvas, Roberto Cirami, João Coelho, Maurizio Comari, Paolo Conconi, Igor Coretti, Guido Cupani, Valentina D'Odorico, Vincenzo De Caprio, Bernard Delabre, Pedro Figueira, Michel Fleury, Ana Fragoso, Ludovic Genolet, Ricardo Gomes, Jonay Gonzalez Hernandez, Ian Hughes, Olaf Iwert, Florian Kerber, Marco Landoni, Jorge Lima, Jean-Louis Lizon, Christophe Lovis, Charles Maire, Marco Mannetta, Carlos Martins, André Moitinho, Paolo Molaro, Manuel Monteiro, José Luis Rasilla, Marco Riva, Samuel Santana Tschudi, Paolo Santin, Danuta Sosnowska, Sergio Sousa, Paolo Spanò, Fabio Tenegi, Giorgio Toso, Eros Vanzella, Matteo Viel, Maria Rosa Zapatero Osorio, "ESPRESSO: the ultimate rocky exoplanets hunter for the VLT", Proc. SPIE 8446, Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy IV, 84461R (24 September 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.924602; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.924602


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