Probing Nearby Planetary Systems

The detection and characterization of extrasolar planets has completed a transition from the fringe to the mainstream of Astronomy. Hundreds of planets have been identified in orbit around nearby stars, and it is clear that planetary systems are extremely common in our galaxy. The Earthbound Planetary Search is dedicated to using cost-effective state-of-the-art ground-based techniques to identify and study nearby worlds. We are striving to find potentially habitable planets orbiting the Sun's closest stellar neighbors.

Our group has pioneered the design and construction of high dispersion echelle spectrometers and lodine absorption cells to decrease uncertainties in stellar Doppler velocity measurements from 300 m/s to less than 1 m/s over the past 25 years.

The Eartbound Planet Search uses ground-based telescopes in Chile, Hawaii, Australia, and California to search for planets orbiting nearby Sun-like stars. Until recently, most extrasolar planets have been found with ground-based telescopes. While the space-based Kepler telescope has found more than a thousand planets and planet candidates, ground-based planet surveys continue to be the only method of finding planets around nearby stars, stars that can be studied in detail and followed up with next generation techniques. We have found hundreds of planets. Including 5 of the first six planets, the first sub-saturn-mass planet, the first neptune-mass planet, the first terrestrial-mass planet, and a large majority of the first 200 planets. We began this program in the 1980s, inventing the Iodine precision velocity technique that is now widely used. We continue to work on improving our measurement precision, and finding smaller planets, including potentially habitable planets.

Additional information, including images and movies, is available at the following sites: