ESA ARIEL: the new exoplanet learning satellite will be built by Airbus

The search for exoplanets is increasingly becoming a priority in the development projects of space agencies around the world. Estimating their number, what their characteristics are and seeing their formation allows scientists to learn more about the solar system and the Earth in its past form. Through the data, it might then be possible to understand which ones they are more suitable for life and therefore even more interesting from a scientific point of view.

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For this reason, several satellites are in orbit with the aim of scanning the Universe in search of signals around distant stars. To these units will be added in the future also ESA ARIEL (acronym for Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey) which will be built by Airbus.

ESA ARIEL: in search of exoplanets

In these hours it was announced the signing of the contract (worth 200 million euros) between ESA And Airbus for the construction of the satellite ARIEL. The main objective of this mission will be to study the composition of the exoplanetstheir formation and development. This satellite will join other orbital observatories such as Cheops, JWST and Plato to allow an ever deeper knowledge of these objects.

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Especially Cheops (launched in late 2019) deals with the characterization of planets ranging in size from Earth to Neptune. JWST extension (almost ready for launch on December 22) will instead be able to study their atmosphere through the transit in front of their star or with imagery direct. Plato (to be launched in 2026) will focus on terrestrial planets orbiting Sun-like stars while characterizing them.


Returning instead to ESA ARIELthanks to the on-board tools, he will be able to carry out the analysis of the chemical elements present in the atmosphere of exoplanets. Its goal is a sample of 1,000 objects that have already been identified but need to be studied in more detail to get a better idea of ​​their characteristics. This satellite will use the visible and infrared wavelengths.

THE launch Of ESA ARIEL is expected in 2029 aboard a Ariane 6 rocket (which should see its first launch in 2022). The orbital positioning will be similar to that of the JWST at the second Lagrange point 1.5 million km from Earth. According to reports, measurements of a single planet-star system could last between 10 hours and 3 days. The duration of the mission is expected to be four years (with an extended mission for an additional two years).

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