I am interested in developing new optical and photonic instrumentation to increase the Doppler radial velocity measurement precision of future astronomical spectrometers, thereby improving our ability to detect the smallest planets outside of our solar system. These technologies are being applied to a variety of current and future planet hunting instruments, including the Extreme Precision Doppler Spectrometer ‘NEID’ , the Habitable-zone Planet Finder, the Keck Planet Finder instrument, and the Minerva-Red instrument. These instruments will be key tools for characterizing the smallest nearby planets, including those detected by the NASA's Kepler and TESS missions.

The Extreme Precision Doppler Spectrometer

I am a co-investigator for the NEID spectrograph, which is a high resolution optical instrument for the 3.5 meter WIYN telescope. NEID is designed to achieve 25 cm s-1 measurement precision on bright stars, opening an entirely new exoplanet discovery space. NEID is currently being developed at Penn State University, and is a partnership between PSU, University of Pennsylvania, NIST Boulder, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and MacQuarie University. As part of the NASA/NSF NN-Explore program, NEID will be delivered to the WIYN telescope in Spring 2019.

I developed a rigorous, comprehensive, and realistic RV error budget based on detailed analysis of every instrument subsystem (Halverson et al. 2016b). I also contributed heavily to the spectrometer optical design, the design of the telescope optical fiber injection system, development of photonic wavelength calibration sources, and performed detailed simulations to predict on-sky velocity measurement performance. NEID website

The Habitable-zone Planet Finder

I am a co-investigator for the Habitable-zone Planet Finder instrument, which is an NSF-funded near-infrared, high resolution spectrometer designed to detect low mass planets orbiting nearby M-dwarfs. The instrument is now in operation at the 10 meter Hobby Eberly Telescope. HPF has a goal of 1 m s-1 measurement precision, representing a significant improvement over previous near-infrared Doppler instruments.

I developed many of the enabling technologies needed to overcome instrumental hurdles that have classically hindered high precision RV measurements in the near-infrared, including: lack of available wavelength calibration sources (Halverson et al., 2013a, 2014a), variable illumination of spectrograph optics due to interference in optical fibers (Halverson 2014a, 2014b, 2015b), and inadequate decoupling of the spectrograph from the variable telescope illumination (Halverson et al. 2015a, 2016a) HPF website

The Keck Planet Finder

I am a core member of the instrument and science team for the Keck Planet Finder instrument (KPF). KPF is an ultra-stable, high resolution optical spectrometer currently under development for the Keck I telescope, due for delivery in 2021. The spectrometer leverages an all-Zerodur optical bench to maximize long-term spectral stability. By combining a high efficiency, highly stablized spectrometer with the full 10-meter aperture, KPF will have unparalleed access to nearby stars too faint for classical RV surveys.

I am involved in the spectrometer design, calibration system development, and optical fiber delivery system. Beyond instrumental work, I performed detailed calculations to predict the full system performance from both an astrophysical and instrumental perspective. I've also performed a variety of simulations to characterize instrumental noise sources unique to KPF. Learn more

Other projects (under construction)