The European probe called Characterizing Exoplanet Satellite (CHEOPS) took off from Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana yesterday on board a Russian Soyuz rocket. CHEOPS will analyse distant yet selected stars and the planets which orbit them in order to paint a clearer picture of alien worlds. By examining the star, researchers will be able to learn more about the plants which surround them, including how close they are to the star, how big the planets are, and ultimately to learn if they are habitable.
The planets it will analyse will vary massively, focusing on rocky planets like Earth to gaseous giants such as Jupiter.
The ESA said in a mission statement: “It is the first mission dedicated to studying bright, nearby stars that are already known to host exoplanets, in order to make high-precision observations of the planet’s size as it passes in front of its host star.
“It will focus on planets in the super-Earth to Neptune size range, with its data enabling the bulk density of the planets to be derived – a first-step characterisation towards understanding these alien worlds.”
A recent study revealed that water may be more “common” on other planets than Earth than had previously been thought.
Water is considered to be one of the main ingredients to life, as is evident on our home planet.
So the discovery that many planets in the cosmos could contain water theoretically means alien life elsewhere may exist.
The researchers analysed data from 19 exoplanets to look at their thermal and chemical make-up.
The planets ranged in size from celestial bodies just ten times the size of Earth to those 600 times the size of our planet – known as ‘super Jupiters’.
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