A few years back, we wondered what Harvard University was up to when they purchased eight Paramount MEs. I'm always fascinated to hear about how the Paramount ME is actually used "in the field" by amateurs and professionals. We learned later that the Paramounts would be part of an exciting project called MEarth. Located at the Fred Whipple Observatory on Mt. Hopkins, the eight mounts, each carrying a 16-inch RCOS telescope and an Apogee CCD camera, search small red-dwarf stars for transiting "super-Earth" objects.
Six months into the project, MEarth today announced its first "super-Earth" discovery! Exo-planet GJ1214b, the second-smallest ever discovered, is orbiting the star GJ1214 located about 40 light-years from Earth in the constellation Ophiuchus and most likely contains water. Now the Hubble Space Telescope can be used to further characterize the planet.
Check out the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Nature and Time.com web sites for more information about this exciting discovery. Wow!
Even though we're not directly involved with MEarth, it's great to see Software Bisque products making contributions to cutting-edge astronomical discoveries. Far out stuff!
The MEarth (pronounced "mirth") Project is an array of eight identical 16-inch-diameter RC Optical Systems telescopes that monitor a pre-selected list of 2,000 red dwarf stars. Each telescope perches on a highly accurate Software Bisque Paramount and funnels light to an Apogee U42 charge-coupled device (CCD) chip, which many amateurs also use. (Photo credit: Dan Brocious, CfA)
As the original video is no longer available, we've substituted one from the 2015 discovery of GJ1132, the closest Earth-sized exoplanet to date.
12-16-2009 9:24 PM
Daniel R. Bisque