Dome C, Antarctica is unique in particular for long-duration astronomical observations due to the excellent weather conditions and nearly uninterrupted nights during the Southern winter period. The 40 cm telescope ASTEP has been operating successfully at the Concordia base, at Dome C, since 2010. We describe the new ASTEP+, a major upgrade of its camera box which will allow it to observe simultaneously in two colors. Approximately three times more photons will be collected for science, yielding more sensitive and accurate observations. The southern location of the telescope means that it is ideally located to follow-up exoplanetary targets in preparation for the future JWST and Ariel observations, in particular when located in the southern continuous viewing zones of these space-based telescopes.
SPECULOOS (Search for habitable Planets EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars) aims to perform a transit search on the nearest (< 40 pc) ultracool (< 3000K) dwarf stars. The project's main motivation is to discover potentially habitable planets well-suited for detailed atmospheric characterisation with upcoming giant telescopes, like the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and European Large Telescope (ELT). The project is based on a network of 1m robotic telescopes, namely the four ones of the SPECULOOS-Southern Observatory (SSO) in Cerro Paranal, Chile, one telescope of the SPECULOOS-Northern Observatory (SNO) in Tenerife, and the SAINTEx telescope in San Pedro Martir, Mexico. The prototype survey of the SPECULOOS project on the 60 cm TRAPPIST telescope (Chile) discovered the TRAPPIST-1 system, composed of seven temperate Earth-sized planets orbiting a nearby (12 pc) Jupiter-sized star. In this paper, we review the current status of SPECULOOS, its first results, the plans for its development, and its connection to the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and JWST.
We present here SPECULOOS, a new exoplanet transit search based on a network of 1m-class robotic telescopes targeting the ~1200 ultracool (spectral type M7 and later) dwarfs bright enough in the infrared (K-mag ≤ 12.5) to possibly enable the atmospheric characterization of temperate terrestrial planets with next-generation facilities like the James Webb Space Telescope. The ultimate goals of the project are to reveal the frequency of temperate terrestrial planets around the lowest-mass stars and brown dwarfs, to probe the diversity of their bulk compositions, atmospheres and surface conditions, and to assess their potential habitability.