As part of the NN-EXPLORE program, NASA has entered into a partnership with the MINERVA-Australis consortium. Starting in 2020B, 300 hours of shared-risk observing time per semster with the facility on MINERVA-Australis are available to researchers based at US institutions. MINERVA-Australis is a dedicated exoplanet observatory operated by the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) in Queensland, Australia. The MINERVA-Australis facility is suitable for observation programs requiring precision radial velocities such as individual measurements to constrain orbits and masses, RM-effect, or Doppler tomography, precision photometric observations such as transit observations, and spectroscopic stellar characterization.
The facility is located at USQ's Mt. Kent Observatory, and saw first light in 2018; commissioning of the facility was completed in mid-2019. MINERVA-Australis consists of 4 (0.7m) PlaneWave CDK700 telescopes; these telescopes have two ports, allowing each to be used for either spectroscopic or photometric observations.
A summary of the facility and its capabilities can be found in the commissioning paper by Addison et al. 2019. The photometric channel is capable of milli-magnitude precision and the light from four telescopes can be combined onto one R=75,000 echelle spectrograph for radial velocity precisions of 1 -10 m/s depending on the target brightness. While the telescopes can be operated individually, they are intended to be operated as an array.
NASA has made available to researchers based at US institutions, 300 hours on the Minerva-Australis facility per semester. The time is intended for exoplanet research, primarily of TESS targets but other exoplanet science will be considered. Proposed observing time will be allocated in hours and must include all science and calibration observations necessary to accomplish the science. More information can be requested by contacting David Ciardi at NExScI or Rob Wittenmyer at USQ.
As MINERVA-Australis is a scientific consortium, proposers must abide by the following restrictions:
The community-proposed targets will be restricted to TOIs from TESS Sectors 1 - 13 or to non-TOI targets at the time of the proposal submission.
Proposals should be submitted to the NN-Explore Program through the NOIRLab proposal process. Information about the current NOIRLab call can be found at the NOIRLab proposal pages.
Publications resulting from data collected as part of the selected programs are requested to include the following acknowledgement:"Data presented herein were obtained with the MINERVA-Australis facility at the Mt. Kent Observatory from telescope time allocated through the NN-EXPLORE program. NN-EXPLORE is a scientific partnership of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation."