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  •  Artist impression of an exoplanet system. Credits: ESA.
  • Ariel telescope. Credit: ESA/STFC RAL Space/UCL/UK Space Agency/ ATG Medialab

Investigating exoplanets

ARIEL is an ambitious mission planned to answer fundamental questions about how planetary systems form and evolve by investigating the atmospheres of several hundred planets orbiting stars other than the Sun.

An ESA mission for exoplanets

ARIEL is one of three candidate missions selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) for its next medium class science mission, M4, due for launch in 2026. ARIEL is designed to study a statistically large sample of exoplanets 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. During its 3.5-year mission, ARIEL will observe over 500 exoplanets ranging from hot-Jupiters to super-Earths in a wide variety of environments. 

Hot exoplanet. Credits: ESA/ATG medialab

ICE-CSIC's participation

The ARIEL mission concept is developed by a consortium of more than 50 institutes from 12 countries. The Institute of Space Sciences is one of the co-I institutes and participates in several aspects of the mission. In the scientific side, we study the effects of stellar activity on transit spectroscopy, due to the spectrophotometric variability caused by starspots, and we collaborate in the selection of the target sample. On the technical side, we lead the mission planning task by using our expertise on scheduling techniques to optimise operations and study the impact of mission design requirements. Also, we are responsible for the design of the Telescope Control Unit, the entire Instrument Control Unit simulator, and the mechanisms of the secondary mirror refocusing system.


Senior institute members involved

Meet the senior researchers who lead our participation in the ARIEL mission.

  • Ignasi Ribas

    Ignasi Ribas

  • Josep Colomé

    Josep Colomé