The world will soon have a new space telescope, thanks to the European Space Agency’s approval of a University of Bern-led project known as CHEOPS, which will develop such a new device.
The 1.5-metre-long telescope is to be placed into orbit at the end of 2017, 800 kilometres above the Earth. There, its job will be to help observe 500 particularly bright stars outside the Earth’s solar system, as well as any planets that may orbit them. The name of the project, CHEOPS, stands for “Characterizing Exoplanet Satellite”.
The green light from the European Space Agency (ESA) means industrial partners can now be found for the construction of the satellite that will transport the telescope. The satellite will be built in Spain or England and then tested in Switzerland, while the telescope itself will be built at the University of Bern.
The ESA also gave the go-ahead to the PLATO project, classifying it as one of its “M-class”, or “medium-sized”, missions. PLATO, which will be launched in 2024 and which the University of Bern is also involved in, is a €600 million (CHF 732 million) project designed to search for so-called “exoplanets” outside the Earth’s solar system.
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