A small space tele­scope on a big mis­sion

CHEOPS satellite in the clean room
The CHEOPS satellite (Characterising Exoplanet Satellite) in the clean room at Airbus Defence and Space Spain in February 2019.

ESA / S. Corvaja


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 did not require its own launch vehicle for the journey into space. It was carried to orbit as a ‘free rider’ together with another payload on board a Soyuz launcher that lifted off from ESA’s spaceport in French Guiana in December 2019. 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.

Related Links


Falk Dambowsky

Head of Media Relations, Editor
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Corporate Communications
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne
Tel: +49 2203 601-3959

Juan Cabrera Perez

Department Head
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Institute of Planetary Research
Extrasolar Planets and Atmospheres
Rutherfordstraße 2, 12489 Berlin

Ulrich Köhler

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Institute of Planetary Research
Rutherfordstraße 2, 12489 Berlin