Cheops Observes its First Exoplanets, Ready for Science

An image of the star known as HD 88111 taken by Cheops. The spacecraft took an image of this star every 30 seconds for 47 consecutive hours. The images taken by Cheops are intentionally blurred: this deliberate de-focusing is at the core of the mission’s observing strategy, which improves the measurement precision by spreading the light coming from distant stars over many pixels of its detector. (Credit: Cheops ESA/Airbus/CHEOPS Mission Consortium)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Cheops, ESA’s new exoplanet mission, has successfully completed its almost three months of in-orbit commissioning, exceeding expectations for its performance. The satellite, which will commence routine science operations by the end of April, has already obtained promising observations of known exoplanet-hosting stars, with many exciting discoveries to come.

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Airbus Successfully Completes In-orbit Commissioning of CHEOPS Exoplanet Satellite

CHEOPS space telescope (Credit: ESA/ATG Medialab)

MADRID, 26 March 2020 (Airbus PR) – Airbus has received confirmation from ESA of a successful end to the In Orbit Commissioning (IOC) of CHEOPS after the IOC review yesterday. This critical phase was performed by Airbus in Spain with the support of the Instrument Team (University of Bern), Mission Operation Centre (INTA), Science Operation Centre (University of Geneva) and ESA.

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Video: ESA’s Highlights of 2019

Video Caption: As the year comes to a close, it is once again time to look back and reflect on some of the achievements and highlights of European spaceflight.

The new Gaia star catalogue and the launch of Cheops are keeping ESA at the forefront of space science, as will Solar Orbiter, being prepared for launch next year.

The Copernicus programme continues to be the largest Earth observation programme in the world, with ESA preparing even more missions.

On the Space Station, Luca Parmitano became the third European to command an ISS expedition. During his second mission, he made some of the space programme’s most complex and demanding spacewalks.

At the end of 2019, the ESA Space19+ ministerial conference agreed to give ESA its largest budget ever and expressed continued support for Europe’s independent access to space with Ariane 6 and Vega-C.

Liftoff for Cheops, ESA’s Exoplanet Mission

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — ESA’s Cheops mission lifted off on a Soyuz-Fregat launcher from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 09:54:20 CET on 18 December on its exciting mission to characterise planets orbiting stars other than the Sun.

Signals from the spacecraft, received at the mission control centre based at INTA in Torrejón de Ardoz near Madrid, Spain, via the Troll ground tracking station at 12:43 CET confirmed that the launch was successful.

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Soyuz Booster to Launch COSMO-Skymed, Cheops, ANGELS, Eyesat and OPS-SAT

Replica of OPS-SAT (Credit: ESA–Stijn Laagland)

PARIS (CNES PR) — On Tuesday 17 December, Soyuz will lift off for the 23rd time from the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana, carrying COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation for the Italian space agency ASI and the Italian Ministry of Defence, CHEOPS for the European Space Agency (ESA), ANGELS and EyeSat for CNES, and OPS-SAT for operator Tyvak on behalf of ESA.

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Sandbox Satellite to Test Operations Innovations in Space

As a flying laboratory, ESA’s OPS-SAT will test and validate new techniques in mission control and on-board systems. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — This coming Tuesday, ESA is launching the most powerful flight computer ever flown in space – inside a satellite smaller than a shoebox. The OPS-SAT nanosatellite will be the world’s first orbiting software laboratory, available to test novel methods of operating missions in actual space conditions.

OPS-SAT is ESA’s latest technology CubeSat – a small satellite based on standardised 10 cm boxes, much cheaper and quicker to build than traditional missions.

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OPS-SAT is a Flying Laboratory

PARIS (ESA PR) — On 17 December, ESA will launch a first-of-its-kind space laboratory, OPS-SAT. The small, low-cost test satellite has been specifically designed for operational experiments in space, and includes the most powerful flight computer on board any current ESA spacecraft.

Consumer electronics have gone through a revolution over the last 30 years with computers becoming ever faster, smaller and better. But when it comes to million- or even billion-euro satellites, their onboard hardware and software have not seen this revolution because of the risks of testing new technology in flight.

As spacecraft managers dare to fly only tried-and-tested hard and software in the harsh conditions of space, innovation on the operational side of satellites is a very slow-moving process. This is where OPS-SAT steps in, bringing down the barriers to spacecraft operations it provides a chance to safely test out new mission control techniques.

Anyone can apply to become an ‘experimenter’ and test their innovative software and new mission operations techniques in space. Proving technology for future missions and paving the way for satellites to further evolve with minimum risk, OPS-SAT will be launched with ESA’s Cheops satellite from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

ESA to Launch Cheops Exoplanet Satellite on Tuesday

CHEOPS space telescope (Credit: ESA/ATG Medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Tune in to ESA Web TV from  08:30 GMT (09:30 CET) Tuesday, 17 December to watch ESA’s exoplanet mission soar into space on a Soyuz-Fregat rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Cheops, the CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite, is scheduled for liftoff at 08:54 GMT (09:54 CET)  on its exciting mission to study planets orbiting stars other than the Sun. It is ESA’s first mission dedicated to the study of exoplanets.

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Exoplanet and Cosmology Discoveries Win Nobel Prize in Physics

Exoplanet imaginarium (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA congratulates 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics laureates Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, who have been awarded the prestigious prize for the first discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star, and James Peebles, honoured for the theoretical framework of cosmology used to investigate the Universe on its largest scales.

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Swiss Exoplanet Discoverers Mayor and Queloz Awarded Nobel Prize for Physics

Exoplanet discovered by Nobel Laureates Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz. (Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesset/N. Rissinger — skysurvey.org)
  • Their discovery of the exoplanet 51 Pegasi b in 1995 spawned a revolution in astronomy.
  • The Search for exoplanets is becoming increasingly important at DLR.
  • The two ESA missions CHEOPS (2019) and PLATO (2026) will focus on Earth-like planets.
  • Focus: astronomy, exploration, search for exoplanets, astrobiology

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The discovery of the first exoplanet almost 25 years ago changed our perception of the origin and evolution of the Universe and challenged the uniqueness of our own Solar System. Today, scientists from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and other organisations are using new techniques and instruments on ESA missions such as CHEOPS and PLATO to set their sights even higher – the hunt for a second Earth.

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Europe’s Exoplanet Satellite Completes Final Tests

Artist impression of Cheops, the Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, with an exoplanet system in the background. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

MADRID (ESA PR) — ESA’s Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, Cheops, was recently declared ready to fly after completing a series of final spacecraft tests.

Cheops will lift off as a secondary passenger on a Soyuz-Fregat rocket launching from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The satellite will be stored at the Airbus Defence and Space facility in Madrid for a few months before being shipped to the launch site, targeting the launch time slot between 15 October and 14 November in 2019.
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