Joined: 30 Oct 2020
|Posted: 2020-11-13 11:19:15 Post subject: Europe moves ahead with Ariel exoplanet mission
|Europe moves ahead with Ariel exoplanet mission
The Ariel space telescope, which will study the atmospheres of distant worlds, has the green light to proceed.
European Space Agency (Esa) member states formally adopted the project on Thursday, signing off two years of feasibility studies.
The near-billion-euro observatory is now clear to launch in 2029.
Ariel will probe the gases that shroud exoplanets to try to understand how these objects formed and how they have evolved
The findings are expected to help put the nature of our own Solar System in some wider context.
While it is undoubtedly a grand endeavour for the whole of European space research, Ariel is of particular importance to the UK.
Scientifically, the mission will be led from University College London by principal investigator Prof Giovanna Tinetti.
But on the technical front, too, Britain will play a major role.
The "business end" of the observatory - its mirror system and instrumentation - will be assembled and tested at RAL Space on
the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire.
"We're very good at exoplanet research in the UK; we've got one of the largest science communities in the world. So, yes,
we want to have a big part in Ariel," said Dr Caroline Harper, the head of science at the UK Space Agency.
"And, of course, in RAL Space we have world-class system engineering, with the expertise and facilities in one place to do
the assembly, integration and testing," she told BBC News.
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