A new compact space probe that is being prepared for launch from Europe will allow researchers to estimate the size of planets spread across space. The launch should take place on Tuesday. A Soyuz rocket will carry the spacecraft into orbit for the ESA.
The engineers who designed the satellite took into account valuable data, which was learned from the launch of a previous mission that had a similar aim, including Kepler. Classified under the name of Characterizing Exoplanet Satellite (or CHEOPS), the spacecraft will orbit at a distance of approximately 435 miles (or 700 kilometers) from the surface of the planet.
By harnessing the power of an ultra-sensitive telescope, CHEOPS will have the ability to register the small changes that affect the brightness of a star when an orbiting planet will pass by the visible side. This method of observation is called the transit method. It has been used by several missions, among which we can count Kepler, TESS, and CoRoT mission operated by the French space agency.
The ESA Will Launch A Space Probe To Evaluate The Size Of Exoplanets
What separates CHEOPS from other missions is the fact that it was designed as a follow-up tool that can offer more data about planets which were observed in the past. Researchers will use it to explore one system at a time instead of discovering hundreds of new distant systems that are hard to explore.
Since a large number of exoplanets have been observed until now, the researchers will be able to collect valuable data about them, like the mass, temperature, and structure. Astronomers calculate an estimated mass of a planet with the help of the radial velocity method. This method allows researchers to observe how the star is affected by the gravitational pull of the planet, which is influenced by mass.
One of the researchers who are a part of the project has stated that CHEOPS can also find suitable targets for future missions.