From ESO: “New Exoplanet Hunter to be Sited at ESO’s La Silla Observatory”

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European Southern Observatory

29 June 2016
Ignas Snellen
Leiden Observatory
Postbus 9513
2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands

Richard Hook
ESO Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
Cell: +49 151 1537 3591


ESO has reached agreement with Leiden University in the Netherlands to site a station of MASCARA (the Multi-site All-Sky CAmerRA) at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. The contract was signed by ESO Director General Tim de Zeeuw and Geert de Snoo, Dean of the Faculty of Science at Leiden University.

MASCARA is a planet-hunting instrument that will eventually consist of a number of individual stations operating at sites across the globe. Each station contains a battery of cameras which will monitor almost the entire sky visible from its location. Once all the stations have been installed, MASCARA will be able to provide almost all-sky coverage down to magnitude 8. Its main purpose is to find the brightest transiting exoplanets, but there are also a wealth of secondary science goals. MASCARA is expected to provide a catalogue of the brightest targets for future exoplanet characterisation missions.

MASCARA is a standalone facility of small cameras, not mounted on a telescope.

The first MASCARA station is already operating on the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands.

Gran Telescopio  Canarias at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, Spain
Gran Telescopio Canarias at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, Spain

The second station, due to begin operation before the end of 2016, will take advantage of the excellent observing conditions at the La Silla site.

See the full article here .

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ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

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