SuperWASP (Wide Angle Search for Planets) is performing an ultra-wide angle search for transiting extrasolar planets with the aim of covering the entire sky down to ~15th magnitude.


SuperWASP consists of two robotic observatories; SuperWASP-North at Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma in the Canaries and SuperWASP-South at the South African Astronomical Observatory, South Africa. Each observatory consists of an array of eight Canon 200mm f1.8 lenses backed by high quality 2k x 2k science grade CCDs. The large field of view of the Canon lenses gives each observatory a massive sky coverage of just under 500 square degrees per pointing.

The observatories continually monitor the sky, taking a set of images approximately once per minute, resulting in a total of up to 100 gigabytes of data per night. By measuring the brightness of each star, in each image, small dips in brightness caused by Jupiter sized planets passing in front of their parent stars (transits) can be searched for.

SuperWASP is operated by a consortium of eight academic institutions which include Cambridge University, the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, Keele University, Leicester University, the Open University, Queen's University Belfast and St. Andrews University. It is hoped that SuperWASP will revolutionise our understanding of planet formation paving the way for future space missions searching for 'Earth'-like worlds.

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