The Cheops telescope in Europe has started studying other worlds.

The scientific activities of Europe’s newest space observatory have started to expand.

Cheops was launched in December to study and characterize worlds outside our solar system.

The orbiting observatory is now ready to fulfill its mission after a period of commissioning and testing.

Kelt-11b, the so-called “Styrofoam World,” 55 Cancri-e, and GJ-436b, the “Lava Planet,” are priorities for investigation.

Cheops intends to advance our understanding of what these and hundreds of other distant objects discovered in previous all-sky surveys actually are like.

The Swiss-led telescope will achieve this by looking for tiny changes in light as a planet passes in front of its host star.

This event, known as the transit, will become the “exoplanets ” exact diameter. Scientists will be able to estimate a density by combining this information with data about the object’s mass collected in other ways.

And this should say a lot about the makeup and internal organization of the target person.

Kelt-11b has shown excellent early performance. Orbiting a star called HD 93396, this massive exoplanet is 30 percent larger than our own Jupiter. Kelt-11b is an “inflated” low-density universe, which is why it is compared to expanded foam.

Cheops’ excellent photometric instrument can determine the planet’s diameter to 181,600 km based on how the star’s light falls as Kelt-11b moves forward to complete its transit (plus or minus 4,290 km). This measurement is more than five times more accurate than a ground-based telescope could reach.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is a partner in the Cheops project. dr Kate Isaak, the project scientist, praised the performance of the new observatory.

“We have a very stable satellite with excellent alignment that exceeds specifications. And that will be extremely beneficial to the mission,” she told the BBC.

“We can see that this mission is promising from the spacecraft side, the instrument side, and the data analysis we’re getting.”

According to Prof. David Ehrenreich of the University of Geneva, many of the early observations made with Cheops came from “super-Earths”.

“These are planets thought to be rocky, similar to Earth, but larger and more massive. And it’s a lot hotter. Worlds of lava,” he went on to explain.

This category includes 55 Cancri-e. It only takes 18 hours to orbit its parent star, despite having more than eight times the mass of Earth. According to scientists, it is said to have a global ocean of molten rock on its surface.

The project consortium has planned about 80% of the observation time on Cheops. This collaboration, led by the Universities of Bern and Geneva, has participants from eleven European countries (also with Esa as a partner). The remaining 20% ​​of the time is available to the general public. The first of these outsider proposals will be considered over the next few days. Cheops will study a burned-out star, often referred to as a white dwarf, to see if planetary material is moving around it.

According to Nobel laureate Prof. Didier Queloz from the Universities of Cambridge and Geneva, the goal of Cheops was to advance our understanding of how planets form.

“By extending our observations to other types of planets that have no equivalent in our solar system, we should be able to fill in the missing elements of this hypothesis and, shall we say, gain a greater perspective on how we fit in.” ‘ he told the BBC.

On the outskirts of Madrid, the National Institute of Aerospace Technology in Torrejon is responsible for the scientific planning of Cheops; the telescope itself is managed from Spain at the National Institute for Aerospace Technology Torrejon.

While the coronavirus outbreak has wreaked significant damage on several space missions, Cheops has remained largely unaffected.

“The test phase could only be completed with the full commitment of everyone involved, and because the mission has largely automated operational management, which enables commands to be sent and data to be received from home,” says Prof. Willy Benz from the university from Bern, the mission’s lead investigator.

Cheops stands for Characterizing ExOPlanet Satellitein abbreviated form.