CHEOPS, the European Space Agency’s exoplanet satellite. Artist’s impression.Credit: ESA / ATG medialab

By this time next year, CHEOPS will be in space.

The new telescope’s launch window—now official—lasts a month, from October 15 to November 14, 2019.

Sometime during those 31 days, CHEOPS will blast off on a Soyuz rocket from the spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, a coastal town on the Atlantic side of South America.

The probe, a product of the European Space Agency, will orbit the Earth at 435 miles up (700 kilometers).

Unlike NASA’s TESS spacecraft—or its predecessor, Kepler—CHEOPS is not a planet hunter.

“That’s not the goal,” says Willy Benz, professor of astrophysics at the University of Bern in Switzerland. “We’re not trying to find hundreds or thousands of new planets.”

Artist’s illustration of a super-Earth, in the habitable zone.Credit: NASA / Ames / JPL-Caltech

Rather than discovery, CHEOPS wants details; the mission follows up on 700 worlds already found.

“Just knowing they exist is no longer enough,” says Benz, the principal investigator. “Now we want to know what they’re made of.”

Literally. Like whether the worlds are rocky (Earth, Mars) or gas (Jupiter, Saturn).

And by discovering a single fact about these mysterious places—their density—CHEOPS can hint at their composition.

“The density gives you some flavor of what the thing is,” Benz says. “You get an indication.”

High density planets are probably rocky; low density suggests a gas or ice world.

Something in-between, “a middle density,” says Benz, “might be a combination of rocks and ice.”

55 Cancri e, a potential target for CHEOPS.Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MIT

Of particular interest to the CHEOPS team: the so-called super-Earths and mini-Neptunes.

Although there’s “no clear boundary,” says Benz—”it’s a bit wishy-washy,” he jokes—a super-Earth has approximately twice the radius of the Earth; mini-Neptunes, about triple.

Nothing within that size range orbits in our solar system. But elsewhere, super-Earths are everywhereall over the galaxy.

“They are the peak of the distribution,” says Benz, “the most abundant ones.”

To determine density, CHEOPS begins by examining transits—eclipse-like events, when a planet passes between its star and the telescope.

As that happens, the planet hides a bit of the star’s light; that dip in the light, miniscule but measurable, “is what CHEOPS will try to see,” Benz says.

Contained within those tiny fluctuations are clues to a world’s characteristics. Like its radius: “We can get a reasonably precise measurement of it,” he says.

Add that to already-existing data, and researchers can calculate the planet’s density.

Should CHEOPS succeed, scientists worldwide will have a roster of rocky worlds to check out. Some might be habitable. Next generation telescopes—like ARIEL or the James Webb—will analyze the atmospheres of the best candidates.

Somewhere down the line, detection of extraterrestrial life is the goal. CHEOPS, not looking directly for that, is delivering the targets. Even in space, legwork counts.

Another view of CHEOPS in space. Artist’s illustration.Credit: ESA/ ATG medialab

” readability=”102.14188772363″>
< div _ ngcontent-c14 =" " innerhtml ="

(*** )(***** )

CHEOPS, the European Area Firm’s exoplanet satellite. Artist’s impression.(********* )Credit: ESA/ ATG medialab

(************** )By this time next year, CHEOPS will remain in area.

(****************** )The brand-new telescope’s launch window– now main– lasts a month, from October 15 to November 14, 2019.

At Some Point throughout those 31 days, CHEOPS will launch on a Soyuz rocket from the spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, a seaside town on the Atlantic side of South America.

The probe, an item of the European Area Firm, will orbit the Earth at 435 miles up (700 kilometers).

Unlike NASA’s TESS spacecraft— or its predecessor, Kepler— CHEOPS is not a world hunter.

(*********** )

“That’s not the objective,” states Willy Benz, teacher of astrophysics at the University of Bern in Switzerland. “We’re not searching for hundreds or countless brand-new worlds.”

Artist’s illustration of a super-Earth, in the habitable zone. Credit: NASA/ Ames/ JPL-Caltech

(***** )

Instead of discovery, CHEOPS desires information; the objective acts on 700 worlds currently discovered.

” Feeling in one’s bones they exist is no longer enough,” states Benz, the primary detective “Now we wish to know what they’re made from.”

Actually. Like whether the worlds are rocky (Earth, Mars) or gas (Jupiter, Saturn).

And by finding a single truth about these mystical locations– their density– CHEOPS can mean their structure.

” The density offers you some taste of what the important things is,” Benz states. “You get an indicator.”

High density worlds are most likely rocky; low density recommends a gas or ice world.

Something in-between, “a middle density,” states Benz, “may be a mix of rocks and ice.”

55 Cancri e, a possible target for CHEOPS. Credit: NASA/ JPL-Caltech/ MIT

Of specific interest to the CHEOPS group: the so-called super-Earths and mini-Neptunes.

Although there’s “no clear limit,” states Benz–” it’s a bit wishy-washy,” he jokes– a super-Earth has roughly two times the radius of the Earth; mini-Neptunes, about triple.

Absolutely nothing within that size variety orbits in our planetary system. However in other places, super-Earths are all over all over the galaxy.

” They are the peak of the circulation,” states Benz, “the most plentiful ones.”

To figure out density, CHEOPS starts by taking a look at transits— eclipse-like occasions, when a world passes in between its star and the telescope.

As that takes place, the world conceals a little the star’s light; that dip in the light, small however quantifiable, “is what CHEOPS will attempt to see,” Benz states.

Consisted of within those small changes are ideas to a world’s attributes. Like its radius: ” We can get a fairly accurate measurement of it,” he states.

Include that to already-existing information, and scientists can compute the world’s density.

Ought to CHEOPS be successful, researchers worldwide will have a lineup of rocky worlds to take a look at. Some may be habitable. Next generation telescopes– like ARIEL or the James Webb— will examine the environments of the very best prospects.

Someplace down the line, detection of extraterrestrial life is the objective. CHEOPS, not looking straight for that, is providing the targets. Even in area, legwork counts.

Another view of CHEOPS in area. Artist’s illustration. Credit: ESA/ ATG medialab

” readability =”102
14188772363″ >

.

CHEOPS, the European Area Firm’s exoplanet satellite. Artist’s impression. Credit: ESA/ ATG medialab

.

.

By this time next year, CHEOPS will remain in area.

The brand-new telescope’s launch window– now main– lasts a month, from October 15 to November 14,2019

.

At Some Point throughout those 31 days, CHEOPS will launch on a Soyuz rocket from the spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, a seaside town on the Atlantic side of South America.

The probe, an item of the European Area Firm, will orbit the Earth at 435 miles up (700 kilometers).

Unlike NASA’s TESS spacecraft — or its predecessor, Kepler — CHEOPS is not a world hunter.

“That’s not the objective,” states Willy Benz, teacher of astrophysics at the University of Bern in Switzerland. “We’re not searching for hundreds or countless brand-new worlds.”

.

.

Artist’s illustration of a super-Earth, in the habitable zone. Credit: NASA/ Ames/ JPL-Caltech

.

.

Instead of discovery, CHEOPS desires information; the objective acts on 700 worlds currently discovered.

“Feeling in one’s bones they exist is no longer enough,” states Benz, the primary detective “Now we wish to know what they’re made from.”

Actually. Like whether the worlds are rocky (Earth, Mars) or gas (Jupiter, Saturn).

And by finding a single truth about these mystical locations– their density– CHEOPS can mean their structure.

“The density offers you some taste of what the important things is,” Benz states. “You get an indicator.”

High density worlds are most likely rocky; low density recommends a gas or ice world.

Something in-between, “a middle density,” states Benz, “may be a mix of rocks and ice.”

.

.

55 Cancri e, a possible target for CHEOPS. Credit: NASA/ JPL-Caltech/ MIT

.

.

Of specific interest to the CHEOPS group: the so-called super-Earths and mini-Neptunes.

Although there’s “no clear limit,” states Benz– “it’s a bit wishy-washy,” he jokes– a super-Earth has roughly two times the radius of the Earth; mini-Neptunes, about triple.

Absolutely nothing within that size variety orbits in our planetary system. However in other places, super-Earths are all over all over the galaxy.

“They are the peak of the circulation,” states Benz, “the most plentiful ones.”

To figure out density, CHEOPS starts by taking a look at transits — eclipse-like occasions, when a world passes in between its star and the telescope.

As that takes place, the world conceals a little the star’s light; that dip in the light, small however quantifiable, “is what CHEOPS will attempt to see,” Benz states.

Consisted of within those small changes are ideas to a world’s attributes. Like its radius: “We can get a fairly accurate measurement of it,” he states.

Include that to already-existing information, and scientists can compute the world’s density.

Ought to CHEOPS be successful, researchers worldwide will have a lineup of rocky worlds to take a look at. Some may be habitable. Next generation telescopes– like ARIEL or the James Webb — will examine the environments of the very best prospects.

Someplace down the line, detection of extraterrestrial life is the objective. CHEOPS, not looking straight for that, is providing the targets. Even in area, legwork counts.

.

.

Another view of CHEOPS in area. Artist’s illustration. Credit: ESA/ ATG medialab

.

.

.