At Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, ESA’s Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, Cheops, is being fitted into the flight adapter of the Soyuz-Fregat rocket that will lift it into space on 17 December.
In this picture, taken on 29 November, the Souyuz Arianespace System for Auxiliary Payloads (ASAP-S) is progressively lowered, encapsulating Cheops. The ASAP-S structure is used to integrate the main passenger, Cheops and the Cubesats into the launcher.
Cheops is ESA’s first mission dedicated to the study of extrasolar planets, or exoplanets. It will observe bright stars that are already known to host planets, measuring minuscule brightness changes due to the planet’s transit across the star’s disc.