Cheops, the Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, 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.
The mission is scheduled to launch as a secondary passenger on a Soyuz-Fregat rocket launching from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on 17 December 2019. The launcher will deliver Cheops directly to its operational orbit, a Sun-synchronous dusk–dawn orbit 700 km above Earth.
Following the launch and early orbit phase (LEOP) and In-Orbit Commissioning (IOC) of the spacecraft, responsibility for operations will be taken over by the Cheops Mission Consortium. The Mission Operations Centre is under the responsibility of INTA in Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain, while the Science Operations Centre and the overall coordination of the ground segment will be located at the University of Geneva, Switzerland.
Note: This infographic was updated on 20 December 2019.