The broadcast starts at 8:30 am in Lisbon, but the satellite will only be launched at 8:54 am, and can be watched live from ESA Web TV for 5 hours, allowing to follow the launch from Kourou in French Guiana which will be explained by several scientists involved in the project. The broadcast ends at 11:30 am with the separation of the Cheops satellite from the Soyuz-Fregat rocket that carries four more passengers on board.
The Cheops satellite will study planets outside our solar system and will take on board Portuguese technology from three companies that were involved in ESA's development consortium, led by the University of Bern, in a project developed in partnership with Switzerland.
Cheops is the first in a series of three missions, which also includes Plato and Ariel, planned for the next decade to address different aspects of scientific research from the farthest planets.
The 280 Kg satellite has a main body shaped like a 1.5-meter-edged cube and will be placed into orbit about 700 kilometers above sea level by a Soyuz-Fregat rocket.
The chosen orbit, according to ESA, allows the rear of the satellite to be permanently directed towards the sun, keeping sunlight to a minimum while a telescope is observing night targets in the opposite direction.
Portuguese technology mission on board
ESA's first mission to study exoplanets was scheduled since 2017 but has been postponed successively and is now scheduled for 08:54 today (Lisbon time).
The satellite was built from a partnership between ESA and Switzerland through a leading consortium, and has “important contributions” from 10 other European Agency Member States, including three Portuguese companies and a research center. .
According to a statement from the Portuguese space agency Portugal Space, the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences and Deimos Engenharia "lead" the scientific component of Cheops.
FreziteHP has designed and produced the protections that will ensure that the equipment can withstand the extreme thermal amplitude of the space.
The Portuguese also LusoSpace, which investigates new technologies and their application in space, also participates in the project.
“The Cheops mission will measure the size of exoplanets (planets outside the solar system) with great accuracy, find out if the exoplanets have moons, if they have rings, and also open a door to the unknown,” says Nuno Santos, a researcher at the Institute. of Astrophysics and Space Sciences and the University of Porto