NRI scientist to head NASA mission

INTERESsmahadevanSuvrath Mahadevan assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University who leads a research group, was selected by NASA in March to build an advanced instrument named NEID (for NN-EXPLORE Exoplanet Investigations with Doppler spectroscopy) – for exoplanet search.

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. He is currently in Ahmedabad on a private visit.

Talking about the project, he said NEID will be completed in 2019 and installed on a 3.5 meter WIYN telescope in Arizona that will measure the tiny wobble caused in a star by the gravitational tug of orbiting planets.

The official release from NASA says the project will help confirm and characterize planets discovered from ongoing initiatives like Kepler/K2 and 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 pleased at 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.