CHEOPS will conduct its observations from a low, Sun-synchronous Earth orbit at an altitude of 700 kilometres and will initially operate for three-and-a-half years, with the option to a five-year extension. The mission will be controlled from the CHEOPS Mission Operations Centre in Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain, which will be in contact with the telescope when it flies over the ESA ground stations in Spain. Around 1.2 gigabits of observation data will be sent to Earth during the five to six transfer phases that take place on a daily basis. The scientific operations centre is located at the University of Bern, Switzerland.
One of the outstanding features of the telescope is that it offers the possibility of maintaining an extremely high target accuracy of one arc second over long periods of time. The Sun orbit, orientation and rotation of the space telescope have been configured so that it can be targeted at almost any point in space. A typical observation cycle lasts 48 hours. The high sensitivity and stability guaranteed by the DLR-developed focal plane module are decisive for the success of the mission. In addition to the observations made by the CHEOPS team, one-fifth of the telescope’s operating time has been reserved for external scientists.