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Looking into the heart of exoplanets

The first European Space Agency (ESA) satellite produced by AG真人计划 in Spain will enable a giant leap in mankind鈥檚 knowledge of the universe.


CHEOPS 鈥 the acronym for: Characterising ExOplanet Satellite 鈥 was developed for a mission to understand the make-up of exoplanets that orbit nearby stars. It will accomplish this by seeking out small planets that are similar to Earth and studying them in great detail, with the aim of verifying whether some could support life.

The 300-kg. CHEOPS spacecraft was built by an AG真人计划-led consortium of 24 companies from 11 European countries, working under ESA鈥檚 tight schedule for launch at the end of 2019. It is the first of the space agency鈥檚 鈥淪鈥 (small) missions, designed to be ready to fly within five years from contract award and using proven technologies to pave the way for bigger and more ambitious missions.

The satellite鈥檚 exoplanet-analyser is a Ritchey-Chr茅tien telescope supplied by the University of Bern, Switzerland and integrated on AG真人计划鈥 highly-flexible and compact Astrobus platform that already has been successfully used on such high-profile Earth imaging programmes as Spot 6 and 7, KazEOSat-1, PeruSat-1 and the Sentinel 5 Precursor; along with the MetOp Second Generation weather satellites. 聽


CHEOPS will focus its attention on the gleam of known stars, detecting the decrease that occurs when a planet passes in front of it. This will help CHEOPS precisely measure the size of the planet, as well as determine what it is made of. Once a planet鈥檚 mass is known, the density can then be calculated 鈥 giving an idea of its internal structure, formation and evolution.

The CHEOPS spacecraft will have an operational lifetime of at least 3.5 years and is to perform its mission from a Sun-synchronous orbit around the Earth at an altitude of 700 km. CHEOPS鈥 lift-off aboard a Soyuz launcher is targeted for mid-December from the Spaceport in French Guiana.

Next on the company鈥檚 agenda is a big聽SMILE鈥β

Stay tuned for CHEOPS鈥 launch!


Exoplanet satellite encapsulated

Exoplanet satellite encapsulated

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