Kasper, Markus (ESO)
ESO in collaboration with the Breakthrough Initiatives works to modify the VLT mid-IR imager VISIR to greatly enhance its ability to search for potentially habitable planets around both components of the binary Alpha Centauri, part of the closest stellar system to the Earth. Much of the funding for the NEAR project is provided by the Breakthrough Initiatives, and ESO mostly provides staff and observing time. The concept combines adaptive optics using the deformable secondary mirror at UT4, a new annular groove phase mask coronagraph optimized for the most sensitive spectral bandpass in the N-band, and a novel internal chopper system for noise filtering based on a concept for longer wavelengths invented by micro-wave pioneer Robert Dicke. The NEAR (New Earths in the Alpha Cen Region) experiment is relevant for the ELT/METIS instrument, as the knowledge gained and proof of concept will be transferable.
10.26698/AO4ELT5.0044- Proceeding PDF