The universities planning searches for planets outside Earth's solar system will use several different techniques of detection.
At the University of Maryland, an instrument called an interferometer will be used to improve the accuracy of a telescope enough to get very exact star positions.
The system, designed by Douglas Currie, takes two separate star images from opposite sides of a telescope and uses the relative similarities and differences of the images to cancel out atmospheric "jump." The best accuracy possible with the system would allow it to detect planets of a size between Earth and Jupiter.
Currie has built a prototype of the interferometer he would use, and hopes to begin searching for planets sometime in 1982.
One plan at the University of Arizona would measure the color of a star's light. It is known that the rapid movement of a star changes its color, making it redder if the star is receding from us, bluer if the star is approaching.
Dr. Kristoph Serkowski and his colleagues in Arizona reason that a star's wobble would change the direction, and thus the color, of the star's light. Measuring changes in the light could result in planet detection.
Other attempts will include trying to see planets directly through the telescope rather than trying to deduce their extistence from the motion of its sun. By masking the light of its sun, astronomers using this method hope to be able to detect the extremely faint light reflected from a planet.