CHEOPS Satellite Launched On Board Souz Rocket by Arianespace

CHEOPS Satellite Launched On Board Souz Rocket by Arianespace

In terms of mass, the primary payload is the first of the second generation of Cosmo-SkyMed dual-use radar reconnaissance satellites for the Italian government. Manufactured by Thales Alenia Space for the Italian Space Agency, the 2.2 metric ton satellite was disconnected from the Fregat upper stage 23 minutes after launch

Fremont, CA: An Italian Earth observation satellite built for the European CHEOPS mission to analyze exoplanets and three small auxiliary payloads was successfully launched on December 18, 2019, on board a Soyuz rocket. With this liftoff, the four-stage Russian Soyuz marked the 23rd Soyuz mission for Arianespace from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana. An earlier attempt was scrubbed due to a launcher software issue.

In terms of mass, the primary payload is the first of the second generation of Cosmo-SkyMed dual-use radar reconnaissance satellites for the Italian government. Manufactured by Thales Alenia Space for the Italian Space Agency, the 2.2 metric ton satellite was disconnected from the Fregat upper stage 23 minutes after launch. The Characterizing Exoplanet Satellite (CHEOPS), with a wet mass of 273 kilograms, entered its intended near-polar dusk-dawn Sun-synchronous orbit following separation 2 hours 24 minutes after launch.

The CHEOPS has been designed to follow up on already detected planets and will be precisely measuring the diameters of known exoplanets using transit photometry, along with the minuscule dips in light emission from a star as an orbiting planet passes in front of it. The satellite's focus is to attain the mass-radius relation of exoplanets between 1-20 Earth masses and identifying planets with significant atmospheres. The satellite is also capable of providing insights into planet migration paths, at the same time identifying planets that are prime targets for future habitability studies across 3.5 years of science operations.

The prime contractor for the mission is Airbus, with a telescope provided by the University of Bern in collaboration with the University of Geneva. The auxiliary payloads consisted of three satellites, of which EyeSat, a 3U CubeSat (5 kg) student satellite, and ANGELS, a 30-kilogram technology miniaturization test satellite, were both launched for CNES of France. The third, ESA’s OPS-SAT will be used for the testing and validating of new techniques in mission control and onboard satellite systems.

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