Monday, 24 February, 2020

A Swiss satellite seeking out distant planets

Cheops under testing Europe will launch a space telescope on Tuesday to study the far-off world
Wilbert Douglas | 20 December, 2019, 00:41

This mission then fits in with the launch of the James Webb Telescope in 2021 and further investigation methods such as the Extremely Large Telescope array in the Chilean desert, set to begin operations in 2026.

CHEOPS - the Characterising Exoplanet Satellite - will measure miniscule changes in brightness of a star, caused by the transit of a planet across it.

Rather, it's going to follow up the discoveries of others, to see if it can reveal new insights - such as whether these distant objects are likely to be rocky or gas-rich.

European satellite launch company Arianespace has delayed the launch of a brand new spacecraft created to look for alien planets alongside four other satellites due to a technical error with the rocket supposed to carry the spacecraft. The launch is exceptional both for the European Space Agency and the future of the exoplanets exploration, he added.

"We want to go beyond statistics and study them in detail", mission chief David Ehrenreich told AFP ahead of Wednesday's scheduled launch.


The European Space Agency (ESA) launched a satellite early this morning, aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket that took off from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.

The launch previously scheduled last Tuesday, but due to some technical problems, the administration made a decision to postpone it just before 85 minutes of the launch.

On Tuesday, the launcher's automated sequence was interrupted during the final countdown at 1 hour 25 minutes, due to what was described as "an anomaly" in the launch set-up.

The space telescope could also determine whether some planets have atmospheres. It will study targets as they transit in front of their host stars, monitoring the dimming and brightening of starlight to figure out the planet's size. The Cosmo-SkyMed Second Generation satellite separated from the rocket 23 minute after blastoff.

In a clever little bit of celestial engineering, Cheops will circle Earth simply alongside the terminator, the division between day and night time down under, with its digicam, completely pointed away from the solar, towards the darkish.


Will the CHEOPS satellite find alien life out there? According to reports, the CHEOPS spacecraft will be used to analyse and study star systems that are already known to host exoplanets.

'We are one planetary system among many, ' he talked about.

"It's as if we're taking the first step on a big staircase".

Queloz said the CHEOPS mission would help the scientists to measure the quantity of light that is reflected from the planets.

The rocket also carried an Earth observation satellite for the Italian space agency, which the carrier Arianespace said will serve scientists and business and government customers.


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