Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Great news from last Friday - the ESA has approved a new mission to launch in 2017, actually quite a close date for a mission that has just been given the go-ahead. The reason: it's a telescope with an aperture of just 30 cm:
and it will be devoted to the most exciting of all targets, exoplanets. Even better, it will focus on their characterization, not their discovery (though it may discover others on the way). Better yet, it will focus on nearby stars. On top of that, the budget for the mission is just 50 million euros. Wikipedia explains it best:
For the planned mission duration of 3.5 years, CHEOPS is to examine transiting exoplanets on known bright and nearby host stars. Its main goal will be to accurately measure the radii of the exoplanets for which ground-based spectroscopic surveys have already provided mass estimates. Knowing both the mass and the size of the exoplanets will allow scientists to determine the planets' approximate composition, such as whether they are gaseous or rocky.