Artist's impression of Cheops in orbit above Earth
Cheops Passes Final Review Prior to Shipment to Launch Site
July 29, 2019
The Exoplanet Characterizing Satellite, Cheops, successfully passed the final analysis for its launch on a Soyuz rocket from the European Space Port in Kourou, French Guiana.
All technical evaluations carried out by Arianespace on key aspects of the mission, including launch trajectory and payload separation, have shown positive results.
“We are excited to have passed this important milestone and received the green light from Arianespace,” says Nicola Rando, director of ESA's Cheops project.
The Arianespace launch manifest for the coming months is currently under discussion, with the exact date of shipment of Cheops to the Spaceport, and its release date, to be confirmed later. The mission is scheduled for launch in the last quarter of 2019.
Artist's impression of Cheops and an exoplanet system
Cheops is a follow-up mission for the study of exoplanets. You will see bright stars that are already known to house planets, measuring tiny changes in brightness due to the planet's transit through the star's disk.
The mission will target the stars that harbor planets in the size range of Earth to Neptune, producing accurate measurements of planet sizes. This, along with known information about the planet's masses, will allow scientists to determine their apparent density, enabling the first step in characterizing these extrasolar worlds. The density of a planet provides vital clues to its composition and structure, indicating, for example, whether it is predominantly rocky or gaseous, or perhaps to host significant oceans.
“We are looking forward to the start of our scientific adventure and to following up on some of the exoplanets known in more detail,” says Kate Isaak, scientist for ESA's Cheops project.
Cheops will take off as a secondary passenger on a Soyuz-Fregat rocket, sharing the space path with a satellite that is part of the Italian constellation Cosmo-SkyMed.
The launcher will also carry five CubeSats, small satellites based on standard 10 cm cubic units. This includes ESA's OPS-SAT, a 30 cm high satellite with a powerful computer to demonstrate an improvement in mission control capability that will emerge when satellites can fly more powerful computers.
The release date will be announced once confirmed by Arianespace.
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