Scientists at the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland will be processing data from Cheops, ESA’s Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, scheduled to launch soon to study planets orbiting stars outside our Solar System.
The Observatory has a rich history studying exoplanets. In 1995, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz discovered the first exoplanet orbiting a Sun-like star. Now, over 4000 planets are known around stars other than the Sun.
By observing stars that are already known to host exoplanets, Cheops will make measure very precisely the sizes of planets in the super-Earth to Neptune size range. Combined with existing measurements of planet masses, the Cheops data will make it possible to determine the density of these planets, giving us vital clues about its composition and structure, indicating for example if it is predominantly rocky or gassy, or perhaps harbours significant oceans.
The Cheops mission is a partnership between ESA and Switzerland with important contributions from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The Cheops launch slot is scheduled for the last quarter of 2019. This film contains contributions from Didier Queloz, Chair of the Cheops Science Team (University of Geneva); Willy Benz, the Cheops Principal Investigator (University of Bern); and the Cheops Ground Segment Manager, Matthias Beck (University of Geneva).