New orbiting telescope will study the atmosphere of the most distant exoplanets

The European Space Agency (ESA) has officially signed a two-year contract for

a feasibility study for launching a space telescope for exoplanetary research. The device will launch in 2029.

Telescope for infrared exoplanetaryatmospheric sensing (ARIEL) is designed to study what makes exoplanet atmospheres, how they form and develop, the scientists said in a statement. It will explore the visible and infrared wavelengths of about a thousand exoplanets.

ESA scientists will move to the construction phase,creating parts for testing the design of a space telescope. The biggest challenge will be building the primary mirror, which will be built out of aluminum and then plated with silver. Such a mirror, according to the company, should work even at temperatures below -230 degrees Celsius.

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“This is the first time we are building such a large telescope fromaluminum. The reason the predominantly one metal is chosen is that during cooling, the structure will shrink integrally, keeping everything in focus, ”said Rachel Drummond, ARIEL National Project Manager.

This is not the first ESA telescope to study exoplanets. The Cheops telescope was launched in 2019 and was designed to study distant planets and how they form.

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