Claudio Melo


About me

Inspired by the work of Stephen Covey, great masters such as Mas Oyama and Gichin Funakoshi and the Zen popular literature, I have tried to exercise two main ideas in my doings: i) a servant leadership where my actions are emphatic and kind in nature and aimed to empower and give voice to those around me unleashing their potential to the mutual benefit of the Organization and the people working on it; and ii) strive to demonstrate initiative in all things and never fear action. 

I am the Head of the Office for Science in Chile whose mission is to cultivate a scientific enriching environment where ESO astronomers can develop and strengthen their scientific profile to the mutual benefit of ESO and of its astronomers. Both Heads of the Offices for Science are in charge of the administration of a number of programs: organization & selection of science workshops, the visitor scientist program, and the fellowship & studentship selection. The Offices keep an oversight of the budget required to maintain the internal infrastructure necessary to carry out research along with the science travel budget for all ESO astronomers, fellows and students. The Offices for Science also strive to establish close contacts and collaborations with the local astronomical communities.



SEarch and characterization of Extrasolar planets in the near-infrared

Giving the considerable lower stellar noise and the wealth of molecular information, the future of the search and characterization of extrasolar planets requires precise high-resolution measurements acquired in the NIR likely with simultaneous optical spectroscopic observations. In the recent years, along with collaborators of the Institute of Astronomy (Porto), I have been involved in pioneering the extraction of RV in H - and K-band

The next [big] step

After almost 20 years of an extraordinary development, the field of extrasolar planets is heading to revolutionize mankind by answering one of the most enduring questions we have ever asked: are we alone in the universe? To answer to that question we need to find habitable planets and be able to study their atmospheres. An armada of space missions is scheduled to fly during the next decade starting with the lunch of the JWST (2018) together with TESS (NASA, 2017/2018), CHEOPS (ESA 2018), and later PLATO (ESA, 2024). Ground based precise spectroscopic measurements collected from the ground are essential to characterize those planets. 

I am an ad-hoc senior member (and former co-PI) of the Science Team of the Near InfraRed Planet Searcher (NIRPS) that will be mounted on the 3.6-m acquiring simultaneous observations with HARPS with a precision better than 1m/s. Together NIRPS+HARPS will make a unique powerful high-resolution precise spectrograph covering from 0.4 to 1.8 microns. NIRPS+HARPS will open up the path to look for habitable planets around M-type stars by following up the candidates found by the upcoming space missions. It will validate earth-like planets found around G and K-type stars whose signal is at the same order of magnitude than the stellar noise. Thanks to its high-resolution (100,000) and wide wavelength range, NIRPS+HARPS will be very competitive in the detection of reflected light and transmission spectroscopy studies.

In 2016, to avoid conflicts of interest, Melo left the co-PIship of the project and he is now a senior ad-hoc member of the Science Team.  The NIRPS consortium is composed by Switzerland, Canada, Brazil, Portugal and Spain. The co-PIs are Francois Bouchy (Switzerland) and Rene Doyon (Canada). The project has passed FDR and has its first light scheduled for the second half of 2019.

highlighted Recent publications

For a full publication list, see CV or visit ADS

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Geneva Observatory (Geneva University), Geneva, Switzerland
PhD (Astrophysics), 2001, Binarity among T-Tauri stars
Advisor: Prof. Michel Mayor

Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), Natal, Brazil
M.Sc. (Astrophysics), 1996, Heating processes in the upper atmosphere of evolved giant stars
Advisor: Prof. Jose Renan de Medeiros

Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), Natal, Brazil 
B.Sc. (Physics)


Since 2013
Head of the Office for Science in Chile
European Southern Observatory, Office for Science, ESO/Chile

Operations Staff Astronomer (Associate Astronomer)
European Southern Observatory, Paranal Observatory, ESO/Chile

User Support Staff Astronomer (Associate Astronomer)
European Southern Observatory, User Support Department, ESO/Germany

Operations Staff Astronomer (Assistant Astronomer)
European Southern Observatory, Paranal Observatory, ESO/Chile

ESO Fellow hosted by University of Chile
Universidad de Chile, Department of Astronomy, Chile

ESO Fellow with duties at Paranal Observatory
European Southern Observatory