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MINERVA will be an array of small-aperture robotic telescopes built atop Palomar Mountain outfitted for both photometry and high-resolution spectroscopy. It will be the first U.S. observatory dedicated to exoplanetary science capable of both precise radial velocimetry and transit studies. The multi-telescope concept will be implemented to either observe separate targets or a single target with a larger effective aperture. The flexibility of the observatory will maximize scientific potential and also provide ample opportunities for education and public outreach. The design and implementation of MINERVA will be carried out by postdoctoral and student researchers at Caltech.

Project Status

The development and implementation of MINERVA will take place in 4 stages. The project is currently in the conceptual design stage (Phase 0). Selection of hardware components are being finalized as well as designs for the telescope enclosures, spectrometer structure, and fiber acquisition unit. A site survey on Palomar Mountain is now underway to determine the optimal site for the project in consideration of the primary science goals and environmental impact.

Expected project elements include:

  • Science Program 1: Detect low-mass planets orbiting bright, nearby stars using nightly, high-precision (~1 m/s) radial velocimetry.
  • Science Program 2: Detect low-mass, transiting exoplanets.
  • Science Program 3: Highly precise light curves for newly discovered transiting exoplanets.
  • Science Program 4: High cadence follow-up RV and photometric observations of known multi-planet systems.
  • EPO Program 1: New observational lab courses at host institutions.
  • EPO Program 2: Summer Undergraduate Research Programs.
  • EPO Program 3: Mulit-Institution E/PO involvement.

Team Meetings and Reviews

What's New?

Latest Image



MINERVA is a partnership between Caltech and Penn State.

Project Team

  • John Johnson (Caltech): Principal Investigator
  • Jason Wright (PSU): Co-Investigator
  • Phil Muirhead (Caltech): Co-Investigator
  • Jon Swift (Caltech): Project Manager
  • Michael Bottom (Caltech): Implementation
  • Paul Gardner (Caltech): Engineer
  • Richard Dekany (Caltech): Systems Engineering
  • Dan McKenna (Caltech): Site Manager
  • Ming Zhao (PSU):

Telescope Enclosure

Aqawan preliminary design (A. Hjelstrom, LCOGT)


Kiwispec KiwiSpec.png

Project Documentation

  • Science
  • Management
    • Scope Management
    • Planning Management (WBS & Schedule)?
    • Cost Management?
  • Systems Engineering
    • Architecture Definition?
    • Requirements Documents?
    • Technical Risk Management?
    • Interface Control Documents?
    • Commissioning Runs?
  • Caltech Instrumentation Notes (CINs)
  • Publications (Conference and Refereed Publications)?

Technical Library

Organized by Product Breakdown Structure

Project Team

MINERVA Personnel Directory?

Integrated Product Teams Members (Lead) Meetings (Pacific Time) Location
Management (Johnson), Swift, Dekany Various Caltech/JPL
Systems Enginieering? (Muirhead), Gardner, Bottom Various Caltech/JPL
Infrastructure? (Swift), Bottom, Johnson Various Caltech/JPL
Software?   Various Caltech/JPL
Integration & Testing? (Bottom), Muirhead, Johnson, Swift Various Caltech/JPL
Performance? (Bottom), Muirhead, Johnson, Swift Various Caltech/JPL

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Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
jpgjpg Aqawan.jpg manage 195.4 K 16 Jan 2012 - 04:26 JonSwift aqawan conceptual design
jpgjpg Banner2.jpg manage 396.7 K 16 Jan 2012 - 04:15 JonSwift  
jpgjpg Caltech.jpg manage 66.5 K 16 Jan 2012 - 00:07 JonSwift  
jpgjpg Iso_Full_Assembly_Zenith.jpg manage 599.3 K 01 Feb 2012 - 00:48 MichaelBottom  
pngpng KiwiSpec.png manage 377.4 K 16 Jan 2012 - 04:53 JonSwift KiwiSpec?
pngpng Kiwispec_prot.png manage 93.1 K 03 Feb 2012 - 00:41 MichaelBottom kiwispec prototype schematic
pngpng Penn-State.png manage 46.5 K 16 Jan 2012 - 00:10 JonSwift  
jpgjpeg cdk700.jpeg manage 44.9 K 10 Jan 2012 - 22:14 JonSwift PlaneWave? CDK700
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