First light of CARMENES, the Calar Alto exoplanet hunter
CARMENES may find the first uncontrovertible exoearth in the habitable zone of a star in the solar neighbourhood. Its acronym, 'Calar Alto high-Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exoearths with Near-infrared and optical Échelle Spectrographs', is long but self-explanatory. After six years of hard design and construction, CARMENES is currently being commissioned at the German-Spanish 3.5 m Calar Alto telescope in Almería. Well in advance of its American, Japanese and Canadian-French competitors, it will be in January 2016 the first and only ultra-stable high-resolution spectrograph covering the red optical and near-infrared. As its co-project manager, I will give a summary of the homonymous CARMENES instrument, the international consortium that has built it, the on-going on-sky commissioning, and the science project that will be carried with it during guaranteed time observations.
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