The MINERVA-Australis telescope array is a facility dedicated to the follow-up, confirmation, characterization, and mass measurement of planets orbiting bright stars discovered by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)—a category in which it is almost unique in the Southern Hemisphere. It is located at the University of Southern Queensland’s Mount Kent Observatory near Toowoomba, Australia. Its flexible design enables multiple 0.7 m robotic telescopes to be used both in combination, and independently, for high-resolution spectroscopy and precision photometry of TESS transit planet candidates. MINERVA-Australis also enables complementary studies of exoplanet spin-orbit alignments via Doppler observations of the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect, radial velocity searches for nontransiting planets, planet searches using transit timing variations, and ephemeris refinement for TESS planets. In this first paper, we describe the design, photometric instrumentation, software, and science goals of MINERVA-Australis, and note key differences from its Northern Hemisphere counterpart, the MINERVA array. We use recent transit observations of four planets, WASP-2b, WASP-44b, WASP-45b, and HD 189733b, to demonstrate the photometric capabilities of MINERVA-Australis.
Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
- Pub Date:
- November 2019
- Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- 33 pages, 7 figures, 5 tables. Published in PASP on November 2019