Drawing of NESSI cryostat on its handing cart. MRO/mro

Drawing of NESSI cryostat on its handing cart.

The New Mexico Tech Extrasolar Spectroscopic Survey Instrument (NESSI) is a recently funded (09/2009) initiative at NMT to build a multi-object Near-infrared (NIR) spectrometer to be used at the Magdalena Ridge Observatory 2.4-meter telescope. The NESSI project’s funding comes from a combination of MRO’s PI, Van Romero, Vice-president of Research and Economic Development at NMT and NASA EPSCoR in NM at NMSU. We completed our Final Design Review with our JPL Collaborators in July, 2011 and have most of the components on order or in the lab right now.

The current members of the NESSI team at NMT are:

M. Creech-Eakman, Science PI
C. Jurgenson, Instrument Scientist/Designer
F. Santoro, MROI Lead Mechanical Engineer, Mechanical System Design
C. Salcido and A. Olivares, MROI Mechanical Engineers assisting in NESSI design
H. Bloemhard, NMT Graduate Student, Exoplanet Atmospheres and NESSI Science
L. Schmidt, NMT Graduate Student, Instrumentation and Software Control
M. Napolitano, NMT Undergraduate, Software/Computer Control
R. Selina, MRO Staff, AIV Planning and On-site Integration

The NESSI team collaborates with scientists at NASA’s JPL:  Mark Swain, Gautam Vasisht and Pieter Deroo. Their team is in Phase A of the design for an instrument, FINESSE, with a mission similar to NESSI‘s, but from space.

Drawing of NESSI warm optics assembly. MRO/mro

Drawing of NESSI warm optics assembly

Drawing of NESSI cold optics assembly. MRO/mro

Drawing of NESSI cold optics assembly


Progress on NESSI and the next steps:
NESSI‘s informal design started in Feb. 2009 shortly before submitting our proposal to NASA. Since funding started in Sept. 2009 we have assembled our team and begun optical design in earnest.  NESSI had a CoDR at JPL in March, 2010 and FDR at NMT in July, 2011. We have a majority of the NESSI structure in fabrication right now, including optics (from ISP), cryostat (from UCryo), and mechanical structure (from ProFab and JW Industries).  We expect to assemble the entire NESSI structure over the summer 2012 in the lab and take it to the telescope in the fall after we complete all our alignment and characterization.

For more information about NESSI please visit the NESSI homepage.