Precision instruments aid KPF exoplanet search

Optical components of KPF are positioned on a bench inside a vacuum chamber. (Courtesy UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory)

SSL’s Kodi Rider is featured in an April 26 article by R&D World in his role as project manager of the Keck Planet Finder. KPF is a precision optical spectrometer located at Keck Observatory in Hawaii that searches for Earth-like planets of a particular size and mass—astronomers have confirmed more than 5,000 such planets orbiting distant suns. The result of a multi-year collaboration between Space Sciences Lab and California Institute of Technology, Keck Planet Finder saw first light in 2022. Says Rider, “KPF is focused to not only find smaller rocky planets, but ones in the habitable zones of their stars. Its precision enables unprecedented measurements of the masses, orbits, and compositions of smaller planets.” Rider explains that a powerful set of tools used by KPF, called Negative-Stiffness Isolators, were installed and tested at SSL. “As soon as we received the isolators we installed them, put the bench on top, set up the vacuum chamber, and started taking measurements. Everything worked as planned.” Kodi continues, “We have been using the Negative-Stiffness isolators for about a year now and the laboratory measurements that we did at Berkeley were about a factor of two better than we were hoping. Now that we are getting on-sky results with the telescope, we are still at that level with solar radial velocity measurements.”

Read the full article in R&D World