Mon. Apr 22nd, 2019

A Spanish satellite in search of exoplanets

A Spanish satellite in search of exoplanets


Cheops, the satellite for the characterization of exoplanets of the ESA, has been declared ready to fly once concluded its final series of tests. This was confirmed Friday by representatives of the company that manufactured it, Airbus Defense and Space Spain, during an event held at its facilities in Barajas (Madrid).

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The satellite will be the second passenger aboard the Soyuz-Fregat rocket that will leave the European Spaceport of Kurú (French Guiana) between October 15 and November 14, 2019. During the remaining months until it is sent to the launch site , the satellite will remain in the facilities of Airbus in Madrid.

Cheops is a mission of tracking and observing bright stars that harbor exoplanets. Your goal is measure the small variations in its brightness due to the transit in front of the stellar disk, focusing mostly on those stars with planets of size between Earth and Neptune.

The observation of transits will provide accurate measurements of the size of a planet. These data, combined with known information about the mass of the planet, will determine its density, which in turn will provide clues about its composition and structure by indicating, for example, if it is predominantly rocky or gaseous, or if it contains important oceans. .

80% of the time of scientific observation will be dedicated to the list of exoplanets defined by the scientific team of Cheops, while the remaining 20% ​​will be available to scientists around the world. In March, the first call for proposals to use the satellite was published through its ESA Invited Observer Program.

"With its extremely accurate observations of stars that we already know harboring exoplanets, this mission will allow us to first characterize the composition and nature of planets beyond our solar system," says Günther Hasinger, Science Director of ESA.

ESA's first satellite dedicated to exoplanets

"Cheops is the first ESA satellite dedicated to exoplanets, but opens the way to two more missions that will be launched during the next decade -She adds-, which will consolidate the European leadership in exoplanetary science ".

Following in the footsteps of Cheops, the ESA (Planetary Transits and Oscillations of Stars) and Ariel (Study of Large Exoplanets by Remote Atmospheric Detection in Infrared) missions of the ESA will be launched in the late 2020s to discover and continue to investigate new worlds around other stars.

Although Airbus Spain has been the main contractor for the design and construction of Cheops, this mission of ESA has been developed in collaboration with institutions and companies in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, United Kingdom and Sweden.

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