Thousands of extrasolar planets in the immediate Solar neighborhood remain unexplored, many of them are expected to be roughly Earth-sized and in temperate, potentially habitable orbits. The ExoEarth Discovery and Exploration Network(EDEN) transit survey is a large-scale search for habitable Earth-sized planets around nearby low-mass stars. These M-type stars represent the largest population of stars in the universe but impose great observational challenges due to their intrinsic faintness. In contrast to most ongoing and past surveys, the EDEN team utilizes large research telescopes (0.8m–2.4m), which allows for efficient probing of the habitable zones even of the faintest of these stars.
The full-scale survey was launched in 2018 and is currently using a total of 8 telescopes at 6 sites around the globe. EDEN is an international collaboration with teams on three continents and is led by Prof. Daniel Apai at the University of Arizona. As a major contractor, MPIA contributes more than 100 nights with the Calar Alto 1.2m telescope to help accomplish the ambitious goal of finding closeby habitable planets. These observations are conducted by a local team of currently 11 PhD students, enabling them to gain hands-on experience with a professional research telescope.