Pro ISSI Talks | Vorträge

CHEOPS – the CHaracterizing ExOPlanet Satellite

with Andrea Fortier, Instrument Scientist, CSH (CHEOPS), University of Bern , Switzerland

In 1995, two Swiss astronomers discovered the first exoplanet around a solar-like star. Since then, ground and space surveys have discovered more than 4000 exoplanets and the number continues to increase. The diversity seen in their masses, radii and orbital characteristics has opened a new and dynamical community in astronomy: the exoplanetary science. With a critical mass of researchers in a large variety of topics and a statistically significant number of confirmed objects, the time for the characterisation of these new worlds has come: what is their composition?, how do they form?, could they harbour life?

In December 2019, with the aim of finding hints to answer these questions, the CHaracterising ExOplanet Satellite (CHEOPS) was launched from French Guyana. CHEOPS was selected in 2012 as the first ESA Small Mission, with Switzerland leading a consortium of 11 European countries. After three months of in-orbit commissioning, CHEOPS started its nominal operations at the end of March 2020 acquiring images that allow for precise measurements of the exoplanets’ radii through the transit photometry technique.

In this talk CHEOPS primary objectives, its goals and first scientific results are presented. Furthermore, an overview of the construction phase, the challenges faced while building a mission in a short time and the current operation of the satellite are a part of this talk. This presentation was recorded on January 20, 2021.