CHEOPS mission

CHEOPS space telescope: characterising extrasolar planets

CHEOPS - ESA's first exoplanetary mission
CHEOPS - ESA's first exoplanetary mission
Image 1/1, Credit: ESA / ATG medialab

CHEOPS - ESA's first exoplanetary mission

Artist's impression of ESA's CHEOPS (Characterising Exoplanet Satellite) mission with an exoplanetary system in the background.

The main objective of the Characterising Exoplanet Satellite (CHEOPS) mission is to investigate the structure of exoplanets larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune, or with a diameter of between 10,000 and 50,000 kilometres.

Today, we know of more than 4000 exoplanets, which have been discovered by ground-based telescopes or by space telescopes such as Kepler, TESS and CoRoT. The Kepler mission has been particularly prolific in revealing planetary candidates, but many of the Kepler ‘candidates’ still remain to be checked and confirmed. As such, CHEOPS’ main task is to determine the size, orbital period and physical characteristics of these planets by measuring the light curves of bright stars during so-called transits – the path of the exoplanet in its orbit when it crosses the star’s disc – and their associated dimming.

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