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A recent satellite devoted to exploring extraterrestrial worlds outside our planet

The CHEOPS (CHaracterising ExOplanets Satellite) observatory lifted off from French Guiana on 18 December just opened its electronic eyes to space.

CHEOPS is a joint operation from the European Space Agency (ESA) and the campus of Bern. Its primary use is not to explore extraterrestrial worlds but rather examine the actual size, mass, and constituents of those alien planets. Throughout its operation, CHEOPS could exceptionally study thousands of extraterrestrial planets. 

Immediately following the lift-off that occurred on 18 December last year (2019), a team of experts tested their communication with the satellite. On 8 January this year, they started to commission; in other terms, they booted the supercomputer, performed several experiments, and examined all constituents. This was an explanation from Willy Benz, who is the professor of astrophysics at the University of Bern and chief examiner of the CHEOPS operation.

The weightless material

During that lift off and the start of orbital testing, the optics of the orbiting exploratory was protected by a perplex cover measuring 97 centimeters (37”). It acted as a lens protector for a camera, shielding the tool from grime, space junk, and bright rays of light from the sun.

Operation experts at the Institution of Technician Aerospace (INTA) in Spain provided the command for the shield of CHEOPS to open and prepare its camera to record its information.

An electrical indicator filled up a cylinder made from a shape memory alloy, extending the metal, breaking a lock covering the inside. The crack of the bolt produced a grasp on the case that sprung open, taking it to experiment against a retaining fixture making the eyes of CHEOPS open.

Francesco Ratty, who is the ESA CHEOPS expert, said that the opening technique appears to be extremely reliable, as it was widely experimented while on earth and flew on recent space missions; however, it was still quite a moment that wrecked their nerves as they witnessed the whole process. What they know is that they have many excitements because the telescope has now opened its electrical eyes to space.

CHEOPS is a small S-Class operation for ESA and measures 1.5 meters (five feet) in length and has a weight of 280 kilograms (617 pounds while on earth).

The spaceship in the ESA S-Class operation is quite small, affordable (they cost less than 55 million Euros), and they are easy to manufacture. These particular requirements inspired manufacturers to depend on ready-available technology and tools when scheduling next space operations.

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