ESA’s first mission to study exoplanets is about to start its science operations after successfully completed its in-orbit commissioning phase.
CHEOPS (CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite) launched from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana on 18 December 2019. Since then the telescope cover opened and targeted its first star.
Now that the spacecraft, telescope’s optical performance, detectors and electronics are all working as planned, the telescope will study hundreds of known exoplanets orbiting bright stars.
CHEOPS will use the transit method – measuring the minute dip in light as a planet transits its parent star.
CHEOPS is a small or S class mission developed, within budget and in less than five years, as a partnership between Switzerland and ESA’s Science Programme, with important contributions from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The science mission will continue until October 2023 and will expand our understanding of exoplanets and the universe we live in.