Suvrath Mahadevan, an Assistant Professor at Pennsylvania State University, in the US, was selected by NASA in March to build an advanced instrument called as NEID (for NN-EXPLORE Exoplanet Investigations with Doppler spectroscopy) – for exo-planet (planets outside our solar system) search. Importantly, in the past two decades, scientists worldwide have discovered over 3,000 exo-planets but none with life as we know it on Earth.
However, there are many more yet to be found in known and unknown planetary systems, says Suvrath Mahadevan - “The task is difficult but we are hopeful of new discoveries". Talking about the project, Mahadevan also informed that NEID will be completed in 2019 and will be installed on the 3.5-meter Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WIYN) telescope in Arizona. The project has received over USD 9.5 million in funding, over half of which will be employed in making components for the instrument itself.
The official release from NASA mentions that the project will help confirm and characterize planets discovered from ongoing initiatives such as Kepler/K2 and Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). NEID will also help identify targets for future observation with the James Webb Space Telescope and the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope.
Mahadevan is contented at the developments in India’s Space Programme and said the world is closely watching projects such as Mars Orbiter Mission, and India has been part of a number of international collaboration in the fields of space exploration, which will benefit researchers and students.
Mahadevan who is the son of instrumentation engineer NS Mahadevan, and English teacher Vijaya was born in Ahmedabad and did his schooling in the city and in Mumbai and Jamshedpur. An IIT-Bombay alumnus, he went to the US in 2000 for his doctoral studies.