24/7 Space News
Ariel moves from drawing board to construction phase
Spectroscopy is the technique of splitting received starlight into its different colours using a prism. Exoplanets orbit their stars, when they transit - pass by from our point of view - some of the starlight passes through the planet's atmosphere. Particles in the atmosphere like water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane and others absorb some of that light. This absorption happens at specific wavelengths of light. By studying at which wavelengths the starlight is absorbed, we can determine what kind of particles are present in the atmosphere. The NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope uses this technique to characterise exoplanets and ESA's Ariel mission will study the atmospheres of as many as 1000 exoplanets this way. Both missions focus on infrared light because the signatures of molecules are very prominent in those colours.
Ariel moves from drawing board to construction phase
by Staff Writers
Paris (ESA) Dec 06, 2023

Today, the preliminary spacecraft design of ESA's future exoplanet mission Ariel got approval from the ESA review board and passed the Preliminary Design Review with flying colours.

This concludes the important preliminary design phase B2 of the mission that lasted 19 months. During this phase, the design of the spacecraft has been refined, including the requirements for the interfaces, in particular with the payload elements. Ariel's development plans have also been finalised.

Ariel's scientific payload, comprising a cryogenic telescope hosting two instruments, Ariel medium-resolution InfraRed Spectrometer (AIRS) and Fine Guidance System (FGS), a cryocooler and several electronic boxes, already passed this crucial review in May 2023. Ariel's prime contractor Airbus Defence and Space Toulouse can now begin manufacturing the first spacecraft prototypes: the structural model (SM) and the avionics verification model (AVM).

"We are delighted that we have achieved a significant milestone in spacecraft design, marking a solid foundation to proceed with detailed development across all subsystems and with the manufacturing phase," says Jean-Christophe Salvignol, Ariel's project manager. "The prospect of witnessing the hardware is truly exciting! I'm especially enthusiastic about the manufacturing and assembly of the structural model, as its structure will closely resemble the final product set to take flight."

Ariel's structural model will be subjected to tough environmental test conditions to verify that the spacecraft's subsystems can cope with the conditions expected during launch and in space. The avionics verification model will serve to demonstrate the functionality and the performance of the electronic and software systems used in the spacecraft, including control, communication, navigation, and data processing systems. When these two models work properly, the mission will go through the Critical Design Review and the actual flight model (the one that will go into space) will be built.

"It is fantastic to see the important spacecraft design review successful. Having passed this milestone , we can continue the implementation of this exciting mission that will revolutionise our knowledge of how planets around other stars form and evolve and what their atmospheres are made of," adds Theresa Lueftinger, Ariel's project scientist. "Particularly exciting is the 'coming into existence' of the hardware: we will soon be able to see and test the Ariel structural model, which is always a very special moment for any scientist working on a space mission."

During its mission Ariel will observe up to 1000 exoplanets, ranging from rocky planets like Earth to gas giants like Jupiter. Using its scientific instruments, Ariel will detect signs of well-known ingredients in the planets' atmospheres, including water vapour, carbon dioxide and methane. For a few planets, Ariel will even study their weather, monitoring clouds and variations in their atmospheres on both daily and seasonal timescales.

Ariel was selected as the fourth medium ('M-class') mission in ESA's Cosmic Vision 2015-25 plan in March 2018. It was adopted in November 2020 and is currently under development.

Ariel is a collaboration between ESA and the Ariel Mission Consortium. Involving more than 50 institutes from 16 European countries, the Consortium will provide the payload elements, including the large cryogenic telescope and associated science instruments. NASA and CSA are also partners of the Ariel mission by contributing to the Ariel payload.

Meanwhile, Airbus is leading the European industrial consortium that is building the spacecraft. They will provide the service module and will be in charge of integrating and testing the overall flight spacecraft, as well as the SM and AVM development models.

ESA has the overarching responsibility for the development of the mission, as well as being responsible for the launch and operations. After launch, operations will be conducted jointly by ESA and the Consortium.

Related Links
Ariel at ESA
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
Webb study reveals rocky planets can form in extreme environments
Paris (ESA) Dec 01, 2023
An international team of astronomers have used the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope to provide the first observation of water and other molecules in the inner, rocky-planet-forming regions of a disc in one of the most extreme environments in our galaxy. These results suggest that the conditions for rocky-planet formation, typically found in discs in regions where low-mass stars are formed, can also occur in regions where massive stars are formed and possibly in a broader range of environmen ... read more

NASA Stennis Achieves Major Milestone for In-Flight Software Mission

French 'Baguette One' rocket project gets funding

Blue Origin announces space launch next week, first since 2022 crash

Lost tomato found aboard International Space Station after eight months

France 2030 boosts HyPrSpace and Partners with 35M Euro for Micro-Launcher Development

NASA Teams Prepare Moon Rocket-to-Spacecraft Connector for Assembly

UK's Orbex secures funding for carbon-neutral spaceport development

Next-generation methane rocket to be more powerful

Mapping Mars: Deep Learning Could Help Identify Jezero Crater Landing Site

How Rocks Say Don't Touch: Sols 4032-4034

NASA's Perseverance Rover Deciphers Ancient History of Martian Lake

A Rinse and Repeat Kind of Plan: Sols 4035-4036

Long March rockets mark their 500th spaceflight

CAS Space expands into Guangdong with new rocket engine testing complex

China's Lunar Samples on Display in Macao to Inspire Future Explorers

China Manned Space Agency Delegation Highlights SARs' Role in Space Program

USAGM enlists SES Space and Defense for advanced global satellite Broadcasting

Investor Coalition demands leadership overhaul at Terran Orbital amid CEO controversy

Iridium's New GMDSS Academy to Bolster Safety Training for Maritime Professionals

Embry-Riddle's Innovative Mission Control Lab prepares students for booming space sector

Leidos completes successful Lonestar Tactical Space Support Vehicle demonstration

Momentus Partners with CalgaryToSpace for 2025 Satellite Launch

Transforming Waste into Strength: The Graphene Revolution in Concrete Recycling

Innovative 3D printing technology shapes future of Australian housing

Ariel moves from drawing board to construction phase

14-inch spacecraft delivers new details about 'hot Jupiters'

Seeing and Believing: 15 Years of Exoplanet Images

Researchers Develop Advanced Algorithm Pandora for Exomoon Hunt

Unwrapping Uranus and its icy moon secrets

Juice burns hard towards first-ever Earth-Moon flyby

Fall into an ice giant's atmosphere

Juno finds Jupiter's winds penetrate in cylindrical layers

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2023 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.