A day later than planned, a European planet seeker went into space. The Cheops probe was launched on Wednesday from French Guiana. The countdown was stopped on Tuesday due to a software problem.
The Cheops must start looking for planets that orbit around other stars, so-called exoplanets. The satellite must measure how giant the planets are and which may have an atmosphere.
He also looks at the density of planets, because this can say something about their composition. Scientists then get a better picture of which planets might be able to live.
The Cheops research is led by Switzerland’s Didier Queloz, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics this year. In 1995, Queloz discovered the first exoplanet that revolves around a star like a sun.
More than 4000 exoplanets have now been found, only in our Milky Way, one of the many billions of galaxies in the universe.
The Cheops is the first of three European planet hunters. In 2026 the Plato has to go into space and in 2028 the Ariel.