Canada to Contribute to the Ariel Space Telescope Which Will Study the Atmospheres of Exoplanets

Artist's impression of an exoplanet system. Image credit: ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

The Canadian Space Agency has announced it will contribute to the unique European Space Agency led Ariel space telescope which will examine the atmospheres of about 1000 exoplanets.

The announcement of Canada’s contribution was made on July 25, 2023 and stated that the CSA would contribute cryoharnesses, “‘crucial electrical cables” that “will connect the telescope’s complex imaging detector arrays to the spacecraft’s computer, transmitting the signal through a wide range of temperatures (from −230 °C to 20 °C) without transmitting too much heat.”

The CSA says the contribution comes from Canadian expertise in supplying similar technology for the James Webb Space Telescope and other missions.

An artist impression of the Ariel space telescope which will study atmospheres of exoplanets
An artist impression of the Ariel space telescope which will study atmospheres of exoplanets. Image credit: Airbus)

With the contribution, up to 12 Canadian astronomers will have access to the data. In addition, Dr. Nicolas Cowan, an Associate Professor at McGill University in the departments of Physics and of Earth & Planetary Sciences has been appointed co-Principal Investigator.

The Ariel space telescope is scheduled to launch in 2029 and its construction is being led by Airbus.

In announcing the selection of Airbus in July 2021 ESA said that “Airbus will lead the European industrial consortium building the satellite and provide expertise and support to ESA for the development of the payload module. The Toulouse facility in France will be the main site for designing, manufacturing and integrating the spacecraft elements, while Airbus Stevenage in the UK will lead the engineering of the avionics, radio frequency communication and electrical design of the platform.”

The mission duration is scheduled for four years and can be extended. The cost of Canada’s contribution was not released.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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