ESA’s Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, Cheops, is shown here as a long streak against a backdrop of stars as it orbits the Earth after its successful launch on 18 December 2019.
The 6-minute long exposure was taken at 13:18 UTC on 11 January 2020 with the 1-m SAINT-EX robotic telescope, located at the National Astronomical Observatory of Mexico at San Pedro Martir, Mexico.
The coordinates of the centre of this 2048 x 2048 pixel image are: right ascension 11h 56m 58.00s and declination +27º 30’ 45.0’’ (J2000). The visible trail seen running from bottom to top in the image is due to sunlight reflected by the Cheops spacecraft, which is in a sun-synchronous orbit with an altitude of 700 km and a local time of the ascending node of 6:00am.
The image spans only 12 arcminutes across, so Cheops spent a very short time in the field of view – around 400 ms. The estimated V-band magnitude of Cheops in this image is 8.41.
Magnitude calculation by M. Sestovic, University of Bern.
Note: This caption was edited on 15 January 2020 with an updated value of the estimated magnitude.