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  1. ITV Report

Green light for mission to study exoplanets

Artist's impression of ARIEL on its way to its holding point. Credit: ESA/STFC RAL Space/UCL/Europlanet-Science Office

The ARIEL mission, which has been given the green light by the European Space Agency and will launch in 2028, will produce the first ever large-scale survey of the atmospheric chemistry of planets outside our solar system.

The four-year mission will extract the chemical fingerprints of the gases in the atmospheres of over 1000 exoplanets, as well as capturing information about the temperatures and pressures in their atmospheres and the presence of clouds.

Scientists from Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy will be providing detailed computer simulations of the ARIEL satellite and its instruments, ensuring that the scientific observations can be carefully planned and the resulting data can be analysed correctly. The team will also be involved in interpreting the data from the observations to characterise the atmospheres of the exoplanets.

The decision to select the ARIEL mission demonstrates the scientific vision and ambition of ESA, and it’s the start of a great adventure for everyone involved. This is a mission that will hugely advance our understanding of the nature of planets and of our place in the Universe, and at Cardiff we are very much looking forward to our participation in the project.

– Professor Matt Griffin, Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy