ASTEP+ : Antarctic SouThErn Photometry telescope
Exoplanets are now discovered on a daily basis thanks to many astronomical surveys. These surveys require additional follow-up observations for validation or for joint observations at different wavelenghts. This need will become even more important with the launch of TESS and JWST. In this domain, the potential of robotic medium size (30-80 cm) telescopes has been demonstrated by TRAPPIST in Chile with its successful confirmation and characterization of more than 90 exoplanetary systems. In parallel, recent results obtained on the characterization of the delta Scuti oscillations of beta Pictoris, with ASTEP-400, a photometric 40 cm telescope, have demonstrated that a very accurate photometry can be obtained with an automated telescope operated from the Concordia station with minimal human interventions.
We propose to continue operating ASTEP in 2019 and beyond. The core of the ASTEP+ project requires only maintenance work to keep the mount, telescope and support system operational and limit the failures during the year. Minor adjustments are proposed to improve the image resolution and for a more complete remote control of the instrument.
ASTEP+ will be operated in coordination with TRAPPIST. It will observe stars with exoplanets detected in radial velocimetry to check for possible planetary transits, confirmed transiting planetary systems to characterize them, and generally any target of opportunity that is of high scientific interest. ASTEP+ will also follow up the southern hemisphere planet candidates to be discovered by NASA/TESS space mission.