CHEOPS - CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite - is the first satellite developed and financed by Switzerland in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA).
CHEOPS mission is to hunt for exoplanets, i.e. planets outside of our solar system with conditions favorable to life.
CHEOPS will use its ultra-precise telescope to screen a list of 500 pre-established candidate stars to find Earth-like planets orbiting around them. During its 3.5 year mission, CHEOPS will be able to see details of about a 100 times more accurately than the instruments on the ground, thus increasing the chances to identify new exoplanets likely to hold some forms of life.
The University of Bern leads a consortium of 11 ESA Member States contributing to the mission and represented in the CHEOPS Science Team.
Almatech has been responsible for the design, engineering, manufacturing and testing of the structure supporting the CHEOPS 1.5m-long telescope. While the structure had to be as lightweight as possible and being able to resist to the vibrations during launch, it also had to be ultra-stable in order to allow a steady observation. Made out of carbon-fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) by Almatech partner Connova, its mass was cut down to 62kg. Its design has been validated by testing in representative space conditions and confirmed a stability level below the micrometer (about a hundred times less than a human hair) between the two mirrors composing the telescope in the operating temperature range.
Planned to be launched in December 2017, CHEOPS is currently in final integration.