A New Mission to Investigate Exoplanets Has Sprung Up in Space
- December 30, 2019
- William Lewis
A new satellite is dedicated to looking at the planets that surround other stars.
At 3:54 PM Eastern Time on December 18, the European Space Agency’s Chips satellite departs from the French Guiana Coro. CHESS – the acronym for “Creating Explosive Satellite” – is the first mission of the ESA-led purpose to study planets thoroughly outside the solar system. The launch was initially supposed to be on December 17 but was called off shortly before takeoff due to a rocket error.
Unlike many other exoplanet missions, CHOPS is not ready to explore new planets. Instead, it will collect data on already found exoplanets, which will help researchers discover how the world is built.
Orbiting the Earth, CHESS will spend three years searching for an extrapolation transit beyond our solar system: subtle dips in the starlight that occurs when a planet crosses its sun. The larger the word, the more light is blocked. By measuring how dark the star is, researchers will be able to reduce the direction of the planet.
The focus will be on the size of about 500 planets orbiting relatively bright stars.
By combining shapes with mass measurements – acquired by ground-based telescopes in which it is recorded how fast the gravity of a planet strikes a host star – astronomers say each world Will be able to calculate the density of these, making it an essential metric for detecting what the planets are. Astronomers will also look for clues to find out how quickly the star’s light disappears before and after the transit.
And there is always the possibility that some unexpected planets rotate in front of their stars while watching CHEPS.
Transit hunting is the same technique used by the now-defunct Kepler spacecraft (SN: 10/30/18) and the ongoing TEST mission (SN: 1/8/19), although CHIPPS has the benefit of knowing When to see a transit Although the worlds found by Kepler orbit stars that are too clumsy to follow for CHEPS, many of the planets discovered by TSS are just beautiful, and both teams are in partnership.
“There is a lot of coordination between the two missions,” says Willie Benz, an astronomer at the University of Bern, Switzerland, who heads the CHEPS science team.