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European CHEOPS mission extended until 2026

Europe’s CHEOPS spacecraft will continue to explore planets outside our solar system until at least 2026. European space agency (ESA) announced on March 9 that CHEOPS will resume its reconnaissance mission. exoplanetsIt includes selecting “gold target” worlds for further exploration by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) – for at least three more years, with the option to extend that until 2029.

Launched from ESA’s space base in French Guiana in December 2019, CHEOPS (short for Characterizing Exoplanet Satellite) is designed to size-study planets between Earth and Neptune as they pass or pass over the surface of bright stars. But it achieved impressive results on objects outside of this size range.

The mission took exoplanet science beyond simple perception to a deeper study of the atmospheres of these worlds and precise measurements of their size and shape. Exoplanets with interesting atmospheric compositions can then be transmitted to more powerful telescopes such as: JWSTSo CHEOPS plays a key role in our search for potentially life-bearing planets.

“From that perspective, the mission was a huge success,” he said in a statement. Willy Benz, chairman of the CHEOPS consortium, professor emeritus of astrophysics at the University of Bern in Switzerland (opens in a new tab). “The accuracy of CHEEPS exceeded all expectations and allowed us to identify features of many of the most interesting exoplanets.”

An example of CHEOPS’ contribution to science was the discovery that gas giant WASP-103 b, first observed in 2014, has a stretched, flattened shape similar to a rugby ball. An ESA spacecraft made this determination by examining the diminution caused by a planet’s star as it passed through its face in 2021.

The compressed shape of WASP-103 b is believed to be the result of tidal interaction with its parent star, and the discovery marks the first time that the shape of an exoplanet has been so precisely defined.

Source: Port Altele

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