CHEOPS (Characterising Exoplanet Satellite) – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Telescopes & Observatories Glossary

I. What is CHEOPS (Characterising Exoplanet Satellite)?

CHEOPS, which stands for Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, is a space telescope launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) in December 2019. Its main objective is to study known exoplanets in order to better understand their composition, structure, and formation. CHEOPS is the first mission dedicated to studying exoplanets that have already been discovered by other telescopes, such as the Kepler Space Telescope.

II. How does CHEOPS work?

CHEOPS uses the transit method to study exoplanets. This method involves observing a planet as it passes in front of its host star, causing a slight decrease in the star’s brightness. By measuring the amount of light blocked by the planet during its transit, scientists can determine the planet’s size, density, and atmosphere.

CHEOPS is equipped with a high-precision photometer that can measure changes in a star’s brightness with an accuracy of one part in 10,000. This level of precision allows CHEOPS to study exoplanets that are relatively small and close to their host stars.

III. What is the purpose of CHEOPS?

The main purpose of CHEOPS is to study the structure and composition of known exoplanets in order to better understand their formation and evolution. By studying a wide range of exoplanets, CHEOPS aims to answer fundamental questions about the diversity of planetary systems in our galaxy.

In addition, CHEOPS will help scientists identify promising targets for future missions, such as the James Webb Space Telescope, which is set to launch in 2021. By providing detailed information about exoplanets, CHEOPS will help scientists prioritize their observations and maximize the scientific return of future missions.

IV. What are some key features of CHEOPS?

One of the key features of CHEOPS is its high-precision photometer, which allows it to study exoplanets with unprecedented accuracy. In addition, CHEOPS is equipped with a telescope that can point at specific targets with great precision, allowing it to observe multiple exoplanets in a single orbit.

CHEOPS is also designed to operate in a highly stable environment, with minimal disturbances from factors such as temperature fluctuations and vibrations. This stability is essential for achieving the high level of precision required to study exoplanets.

V. How does CHEOPS contribute to the study of exoplanets?

CHEOPS is expected to make significant contributions to our understanding of exoplanets. By studying a wide range of exoplanets, CHEOPS will help scientists answer key questions about the formation and evolution of planetary systems.

In particular, CHEOPS will provide valuable information about the sizes, densities, and atmospheres of exoplanets, which are essential for understanding their composition and structure. This information will help scientists determine whether exoplanets are rocky, gaseous, or icy, and whether they have the potential to support life.

VI. What are some recent discoveries made by CHEOPS?

Since its launch in December 2019, CHEOPS has already made several important discoveries. One of the most significant discoveries made by CHEOPS is the detection of a hot Jupiter exoplanet with a unique orbit. This exoplanet, known as WASP-189b, orbits its host star at a distance of only 3.6 million miles, making it one of the closest exoplanets to its star ever discovered.

In addition, CHEOPS has observed several other exoplanets with unusual characteristics, such as large atmospheres and eccentric orbits. These discoveries are helping scientists better understand the diversity of exoplanets in our galaxy and the processes that govern their formation and evolution.

Overall, CHEOPS is expected to continue making groundbreaking discoveries in the field of exoplanet research, shedding light on the mysteries of distant worlds and expanding our understanding of the universe.