ESA’s Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, Cheops, is getting ready for launch at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Launch is scheduled on 17 December
In this picture, taken on 6 December, the Souyz Arianespace System for Auxiliary Payloads (ASAP-S), enclosing Cheops and supporting the three Cubesats, is carefully moved towards the Fregat upper stage of the Soyuz launcher, and the technical team is monitoring the manouvre. The ASAP-S multi-passenger dispenser system will be 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.