CHEOPS – Characterising Exoplanets

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The Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, Cheops, has successfully completed its final testing phase at Airbus Defence and Space Spain, Madrid. The satellite has also passed a very important review that determined it is ready to fly. Cheops will be stored in Madrid for a few months before being shipped to the launch site in Kourou, French Guiana; launch is scheduled in the time slot between 15 October and 14 November 2019.

Cheops is our first mission to focus on exoplanets, or planets beyond our Solar System, orbiting stars other than the Sun. It will make observations of stars the are known to host exoplanets to measure small changes in their brightness due to the transit of the planet across the star’s disc. Cheops will target in particular stars hosting planets in the Earth-to-Neptune size range. The information will enable precise measurements of the sizes of the orbiting planets to be made: combined with measurements of the planet masses, this will provide an estimate of their mean density – a first step to characterising planets outside our Solar System.

Cheops paves the way for the next generation of our exoplanet satellites, with two further missions – Plato and Ariel – planned for the next decade to tackle different aspects of the evolving field of exoplanet science.

The mission is a partnership between us and Switzerland with additional contributions from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. This film contains contributions from Nicola Rando, Cheops Project Manager, ESA; and Kate Isaak, Cheops Project Scientist, ESA.

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