NESSI is developing into a new tool for exoplanetary atmosphere, The darkness around the Hale telescope broke with a blue sky that fell when the dome began to open and squeak in the metallic science fiction sound of Mount Palomar in San Diego County.
Historical observatories smelled of pumped oil that supported the bearings and made this giant telescope float as easy as moving to track the stars.
Since February 2018, scientists have been testing instruments at the Hale telescope, the New Mexico Exoplanet Spectroscope Instrument (NESSI). now the NESSI is developing into a new tool for exoplanetary atmosphere.
In collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and the Institute of Technology and Mining in New Mexico, NESSI was created to explore the atmosphere of planets orbiting stars outside our Sun, or exoplanets, one giving new ideas about what the world is
So far, NESSI has tested two “hot Jupiters”, gas giants that surround their stars and are too hot to save lives. One, called HD 189773b, has extreme temperatures and winds so that it can rain on the side glass.
The other, WASP-33b, has a “sun-protective” atmosphere with molecules that absorb ultraviolet light and visible light.
Recently, NESSI has seen these planets cross with their host stars, proving that the instrument can help confirm the possibility of planets that were previously observed by other telescopes. He is now ready to study closer relatives far away from our solar system.
While this tool is designed to see planets much larger than Earth, the NESSI method can be used to one day search for planets the size of Earth and when future technology is available.
NESSI sees galaxies in infrared light that is invisible to the human eye. He stared at individual stars to witness the darkness of light as the planet passed in front of its host star, an event called Transit. Transit allows astronomers to learn how big the planet is in relation to its host star.
In a NESSI device that focuses infrared light, it is scattered in arcs or spectra and is filtered for specific wavelengths related to atmospheric chemistry on distant planets.
NESSI can track discoveries from other observatories such as NASA Transit Planet Satellite (TESS). TESS scans the entire sky in visible light for planets around bright stars nearby, but the identified candidate planet must be confirmed using another method. That is, to ensure that the signals recognized by TESS are actually from transit on the planet and not from other sources.
NESSI can also help connect science between NASA’s James Webb space telescope, which is scheduled to be launched in 2021. The Web is the largest and most sophisticated space observatory that has ever flown the atmosphere and whether it contains habitable molecules. However, because web time will be valuable, scientists only want to target it in the most interesting and accessible way.
For example, if NESSI does not recognize molecular signatures around the planet, it shows that the cloud is blocking its atmosphere, making it unlikely to be a good target for Webb.
When the team made further adjustments in 2019, Swain touched a student on site to build a barrier, a cylindrical device that could direct more light to the NESSI sensor. These pieces are then printed in 3D at JPL Machine Shop.
When NESSI finally opened transit to the planets on September 11, 2019, the team did not stop issuing open champagne.
Researchers are now developing atmospheric measurements from HD 189773b. The team has also compiled a list of extrasolar planets that they want to continue afterwards. “It’s great to see that all of our hard work pays off and we make NESSI work,” Zelem said. It’s far and fun to see, especially in real time.