ESA’s ARIEL Mission Will Study the Atmospheres of More Than 1,000 Exoplanets

The ARIEL mission is a space telescope that will examine the atmospheres of at least 1000 exoplanets. Image Credit: ESA

We found our first exoplanets orbiting a pulsar in 1992. Since then, we’ve discovered many thousands more. Those were the first steps in identifying other worlds that could harbour life.

Now planetary scientists want to take the next step: studying exoplanet atmospheres.

The ESA’s ARIEL mission will be a powerful tool.

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Why Visit Just one Moon When you Could Explore Them all?

Illustration of Jupiter and the Galilean satellites. Credit: NASA

The Solar System’s moons are intriguing objects for exploration. Especially moons like Europa and Enceladus. Their subsurface oceans make them primary targets in the search for life.

But why not send one spacecraft to visit several moons? NASA’s about to launch its Lucy mission which will visit 8 separate asteroids. Could the same be done for a mission to multiple moons?

For a spacecraft to do that, it would have to do a little dance with the notorious three-body problem, which makes a stubborn partner. A new study presents a possible way to do that.

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