The ESA Ariel Space Telescope

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brian livesey
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Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2006 11:05 am
Location: Lancashire

The ESA Ariel Space Telescope

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A new space telescope will observe the atmospheres of exoplanets over a period of four years, after launch in 2029. Ariel will be assembled by RAL Space in Oxfordshire. The instrument will be built almost entirely of aluminium, including its 1.1m x 0.7m primary mirror, which will be coated in silver.
Dr. Rachel Drummond, Ariel national Project manager at RAL Space, explained why the space telescope will be all-aluminium, "The reason you choose mainly one metal is so it all shrinks together, as it goes cold ( minus 230C ), so the all thing stays in focus, even when it's getting smaller." The telescope will be tested in a thermal vacuum chamber to check for any deformation.
The space telescope will observe the transiting of exoplanets around their stars, analysing their atmospheres. Altogether there will be three ESA exoplanet telescopes operational in this decade: Cheops, launched last year, Ariel and Plato. Will these instruments glean enough information to indicate life signs on some exoplanets?
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