Friday, October 30, 2009

Goodbye to Sleuth

From 2003 - 2007 the tiny, robotic 4-inch sleuth telescope spent its nights at Palomar Observatory hunting down exoplanets. The telescope was part of the Trans-Atlantic Exoplanet Survey (TrES), a network of three such telescope dedicated to looking for exoplantes that are seen to directly transit across the face of their parent star.

At the time the survey began, there was just one known transiting exoplanet. TrES added four more exoplanets to the list. Not bad for such little telescopes.

The project was set up by then Caltech postdoc David Charbonneau (now with Harvard) who returned to Palomar earlier this week to to retrieve his little telescope. Even though the telescope had already been out of service for almost two years it was a bittersweet moment. Nobody like to see a telescope retired. The good news is that Dr. Charbonneau is leaving behind a 10-inch telescope ("Sherlock") that was also used for the project. This telescope, which helped to remove false detections from the list of possible exoplanets, will eventually be used for our public outreach programs.

The enclosure that was occupied by Sleuth will be put back into use again. More on that later.

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