The 120-centimetre-long CHEOPS telescope has a 30-centimetre aperture and weighs less than 60 kilograms. Together with its platform, it weighs just 300 kilograms. As such, the space telescope does not require its own launch vehicle for the journey into space. It will be carried to orbit as a ‘free rider’ together with another payload on board a Soyuz launcher that will take off from ESA’s spaceport in French Guiana by mid-December. The telescope platform, which was manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space in Madrid, has a hexagonal basic structure and is only 1.5 metres long.
DLR, which is also involved in the scientific evaluation of the data, helped develop the focal plane module for the image sensor, and the sensor electronic module for the underlying front-end electronics, at the Institute of Optical Sensor Systems and the Institute of Planetary Research. The focal plane module represented a particular challenge for the overall system, both in terms of system performance and because of the short development time. CHEOPS is a joint ESA-Switzerland mission. The Swiss organisations lead the consortium of 11 ESA Member States contributing to the mission, including Germany.