The search for Earth II: Three new French telescopes are searching the stars for another planet like ours
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) announced that a French-led project, known as Exoplanets in Transits and their Atmospheres (ExTrA), may help space experts better observe the night sky for signs of Earth-like planets through three new telescopes installed at the La Silla Observatory in northern Chile. According to ESO, the new telescopes were designed to monitor the night sky to detect exoplanets that revolve around a red dwarf star. Red dwarf stars were perfect for the observation as they were expected host many Earth-sized planets, the researchers explained in a Space.com article.
“La Silla was selected as the home of the telescopes because of the site’s excellent atmospheric conditions. The kind of light we are observing — near-infrared — is very easily absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, so we required the driest and darkest conditions possible. La Silla is a perfect match to our specifications,” lead researcher Xavier Bonfils stated in an ESO press release.
The scientists noted that the telescopes, which were operated remotely from Grenoble, France, already made their first successful observations. The ExTrA project was funded by the European Research Council and the French Agence National de la Recherche.