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Planet-hunting project powers up

Image: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

An instrument for finding potentially habitable planets has started gathering data at the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.

The instrument is called Near Earths in the AlphaCen Region, or NEAR, and is designed to be able to find planets in Earth’s neighbouring star system, Alpha Centauri, ESO explained on 10 June.

NEAR was developed by teams from Uppsala University in Sweden, the University of Liège in Belgium, the California Institute of Technology in the United States and Kampf Telescope Optics in Munich, Germany. The instrument, which detects infrared radiation, took three years to design and build. 

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