Habitable moons around cool nearby stars: from science fiction to reality

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December 14th 2020

CARMENES is an instrument designed to find small planets around cool dwarf stars, but it could also detect large satellites that is, moons, of exoplanets. Some of these exomoons may harbor seas of liquid water, favorable places for the development of life.

In Avatar’s universe, Pandora is the fifth moon of Polyphemus, a fictional giant planet around the nearby star Alpha Centauri A; in the Alien saga, Ellen Ripley fought xenomorphs in an infested colony on Acheron, one of the moons of Calpamos, another made-up planet around the real star zeta2 Reticuli; a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away the Rebel Alliance defeated the Galactic Empire in space battles in orbit of Yavin IV first and, finally, Endor, which were also habitable moons. But do habitable extrasolar moons, or exomoons, exist in reality? And how are they related to Calar Alto?

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Promising scientific and technological new developments for Calar Alto

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July 21st 2020

Three ambitious legacy surveys and next generation instrumentation projects define the Calar Alto Observatory science and technology horizon for the coming decade.

The Institute of Astrophysics in Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) co-leads the two designs pre-selected for the future instrument on the 3.5-m telescope.

CARMENES will be upgraded to extend its search for potentially habitable planets.

The Science Advisory Committee of the Calar Alto Observatory, composed of internationally recognized experts in various areas of astrophysics, has selected legacy projects and proposals for next generation instrumentation that define the scientific and technological lines of the observatory in the years to come.

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Andalusian researchers work on a device to “see” coronaviruses deposited on surfaces

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April 14th 2020

The Carlos III health institute, from the Spanish Research and Innovation Ministry, provides half a million euros to create a prototype allowing a quick analysis without touching surfaces contaminated by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, by combining image acquisition systems in the whole optical and terahertz (submillimetric) ranges and analyzing them with artificial intelligence.

Researchers participating in the project are from the higher technical school of engineering at Seville university, Virgen del Rocio university hospital, Seville biomedical institute, Andalusian network for the design and translation of advanced therapies, TEDAX (EOD) from the national police force, joint research center from the EU commission and technological corporation of Andalusia, and Calar Alto Observatory as well.

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Calar Alto faces the COVID-19 crisis

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March 30th 2020

To cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, the largest observatory on the European mainland has taken protective and restrictive actions for its staff and visitors, adapting its working model in a responsible way. The Calar Alto team is working mostly remotely to be ready to resume its usual operations once the current preventive measures will not be needed anymore.

The Calar Alto observatory has been adapting its working conditions to the circumstances of the pandemic hitting the country (and in some cases, anticipating the actions), while insuring the health and safety of its people as well as the integrity of its systems.

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