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N° 2–2019: Call for media: Cheops ready for launch in October

19 March 2019

The Cheops mission, ESA’s first mission dedicated to the study of exoplanets, is scheduled to lift off on a Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, within the launch slot 15 October – 14 November 2019.

Media representatives are invited to apply for accreditation to visit the spacecraft, which is in the clean rooms of Airbus in Madrid, on 29 March, before it goes into storage ahead of its shipment to Kourou later this year. 

The satellite will observe bright stars that are known to host exoplanets, in particular those in the Earth-to-Neptune size range. By targeting known planets, Cheops can plan exactly where in the sky to point and when to catch the exoplanet as it transits across the disk of its host star. Its ability to observe multiple transits of each planet will enable scientists to achieve the high-precision transit signatures that are needed to measure the sizes of planets in this range. 

The combination of the precise sizes determined by Cheops with masses determined from other measurements will be used to establish the bulk density of the planets, placing constraints on their composition. These data, together with information on the host stars and the planet orbits, will provide key insight into the formation and evolutionary history of planets larger than Earth and smaller than Neptune. 

Cheops is an ESA mission implemented in partnership with Switzerland and a number of other Member States, including Spain. 

Experts will present the mission, its technical challenges and scientific goals during a dedicated programme for media at Airbus. The spacecraft will be visible through a large window. Because of safety regulations, only few TV broadcasters will be allowed into the cleanroom. 

The event will be conducted in English language.

Provisional schedule at Airbus Madrid, 29 March

(all times in local CET)

14:30 Doors open
15:00 Fernando Varela, Head of Site and Airbus Space Systems in Spain – Welcome
15:05 Rafael Rodrigo, General Secretary for Coordination of Science Policy of the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities – The importance of Space Science in Spain
15:10 Juan Carlos Cortes, Director of European Programmes, Space and Technological Return at CDTI - The role of Spain in Cheops
15:15 Günther Hasinger, ESA Director of Science – Cheops: the first of three ESA exoplanet missions and its importance for our science programme
15:25 Nicola Rando, ESA Cheops project manager – Status of the project and what lies ahead
15:35 Andres Borges, Airbus Cheops project manager – Steps towards launch
15:45 Ignasi Ribas, Cheops science team, Spanish National Research Council & Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia – The role of Cheops within the current challenges of exoplanet science
15:55 Christopher Broeg, Consortium Cheops Project Manager, University of Bern –The science of Cheops, the Cheops instrument and operations
16:05 Q&A
16:30 Photo and video opportunity of the satellite situated in the clean room
17:30 End

How to apply

Media with valid press credentials should write to by 27 March to register.

Social media participants should check here that they meet the eligibility criteria before applying. Note that there is no dedicated social media event; those attending with social media accreditation will have the same access to the event as traditional/online news media. There are a limited number of places for social media participants; successful applicants will be informed by 25 March. 



Avenida de Aragon 404

28022 Madrid  

Follow online 

Social media
For live updates throughout the event, follow @ESA_CHEOPS, @esascience and @esa on Twitter, as well as, and; follow for extra content and a unique take on the mission.

The official hashtag is #cheops

Images and animations

Click here for the latest Cheops images and videos.
ESA’s Photo Library for Professionals:
ESA’s Video Library for Professionals:

Background information and news
For background information and the latest news, see:

A brochure will also be published via the above URL. 

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Slovenia is an Associate Member.

ESA has established formal cooperation with six Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes as well as with Eumetsat for the development of meteorological missions.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space. ESA also has a strong applications programme developing services in Earth observation, navigation and telecommunications.

Learn more about ESA at 

For further information, please contact:

ESA Newsroom
Tel: +34 9 18 131 359

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