Press Releases

Artist’s rendering of the ARIEL Spacecraft. Credit: ARIEL/Science Office

 ARIEL Press Release (04/2019) – ARIEL Data Challenge Series launched to build global community for exoplanet data solutions

ARIEL, a mission to make the first large-scale survey of exoplanet atmospheres, has launched a global competition series to find innovative solutions for the interpretation and analysis of exoplanet data. The first ARIEL Data Challenge invites professional and amateur data scientists around the world to use Machine Learning (ML) to remove noise from exoplanet observations caused by starspots and by instrumentation.

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ARIEL Data Challenge Launch 2019

The ARIEL Data Challenge Series 2019. Credit: ARIEL Consortium

ARIEL Press Release (03/2018) –
ARIEL selected as ESA’s next medium-class science mission

ARIEL, a mission to answer fundamental questions about how planetary systems form and evolve, has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) as its next medium-class science mission, due for launch in 2028. During a 4-year mission, ARIEL will observe 1000 planets orbiting distant stars and make the first large-scale survey of the chemistry of exoplanet atmospheres. ESA’s Science Programme Committee announced the selection of ARIEL from three candidate missions on 21st March 2018.

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Ariel Selection Press Release UK 2018

 

ARIEL Press Release (03/2018) –
ARIEL selected as ESA’s next medium-class science mission

ARIEL, a mission to answer fundamental questions about how planetary systems form and evolve, has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) as its next medium-class science mission, due for launch in 2028. During a 4-year mission, ARIEL will observe 1000 planets orbiting distant stars and make the first large-scale survey of the chemistry of exoplanet atmospheres. ESA’s Science Programme Committee announced the selection of ARIEL from three candidate missions on 21st March 2018.

To continue reading the full press release, follow this link:
Ariel Selection Press Release UK 2018

Images:
ARIEL will be placed in orbit around the Lagrange Point 2 (L2), a gravitational balance point 1.5 million kilometres beyond the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Image Credit: ESA/STFC RAL Space/UCL/Europlanet-Science Office

ariel_lagrange_points_high_res

Artist’s impression of ARIEL on its way to Lagrange Point 2 (L2). Here, the spacecraft is shielded from the Sun and has a clear view of the whole sky. Image Credit: ESA/STFC RAL Space/UCL/Europlanet-Science Office

ariel_space_high_res


ARIEL Press Release (01/2015) –
Mission Announcement

An ambitious European mission is being planned to answer fundamental questions about how planetary systems form and evolve. ARIEL will investigate the atmospheres of several hundreds planets orbiting distant stars. It is one of three candidate missions selected last month by the European Space Agency (ESA) for its next medium class science mission, due for launch in 2026. The ARIEL mission concept has been developed by a consortium of more than 50 institutes from 12 countries, including UK, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Portugal. The mission will be presented today at the Pathways 2015 conference in Bern, Switzerland, by ARIEL’s Principal Investigator, Prof Giovanna Tinetti of UCL.

“The essential nature of exoplanets is still something of a mystery to us: despite finding nearly 2000 exoplanets we haven’t yet found any discernible pattern linking the presence, size or orbital parameters of a planet to what its parent star is like,” said Tinetti. “If we are going to answer questions, such as how is the chemistry of a planet linked to the environment in which it forms, or is its birth and evolution driven by its host star, we need to study a statistically large sample of exoplanets. This is what ARIEL is designed to do.”

During its 4-year mission, ARIEL will observe over 500 exoplanets ranging from Jupiter- and Neptune-size down to super-Earths in a wide variety of environments. While some of the planets known by the time of ARIEL’s launch may be habitable, the main focus of the mission will be on exotic, hot planets in orbits very close to their star.

Hot exoplanets represent a natural laboratory in which to study the chemistry and formation of exoplanets. In cooler planets, different gases separate out through condensation and sinking into distinct cloud layers. The scorching heat experienced by hot exoplanets overrides these processes and keeps all molecular species circulating throughout the atmosphere.

ARIEL will have a meter-class mirror to collect infrared light from distant star systems and to focus it to a spectrometer. This will spread the light into a ‘rainbow’ and extract the chemical fingerprints of gases in the planets’ atmospheres, as the planet passes in front or behind the star.

ARIEL will be placed in orbit at Lagrange Point 2 (L2), a gravitational balance point beyond the Earth’s orbit, where the spacecraft is shielded from the Sun and has a clear view of the whole night sky. This will maximise its options for observing exoplanets discovered previously by other missions.

ARIEL’s Project Manager, Paul Eccleston, said “STFC RAL Space is excited to be involved in such an ambitious mission, and one which is crucial to the study of how planets form and evolve. Working with such a large consortium means that we will be able to draw on world leading expertise from around Europe to get the very best results for of the mission.”