News Excerpt
Recently European Space Agency adopted Ariel (Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey) Space Mission, which scientists are planning to launch in 2029, will perform a large-scale survey of over a thousand exoplanets over a period of four years.
Analytica

What do we understand by exoplanets?
•    Planets that lie outside of the Solar System and orbit around stars other than the Sun are called exoplanets or extrasolar planets.
•    Exoplanets are not easy to detect since they are much less bright than the stars they orbit and hence it is difficult to see them directly using telescopes.
•    As per NASA, only a handful of exoplanets have been found using telescopes and the rest have been detected using indirect methods. One of these methods involves tracking the dimming of a star that happens when a planet passes in front of it. NASA’s Kepler Space telescope uses this method to spot thousands of planets.

European Space Agency (ESA)
    The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.
    ESA is an intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states dedicated to the exploration of space. Established in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, ESA has a worldwide staff of about 2,200 in 2018 and an annual budget of about €6.68 billion in 2020.

•    Other methods to track exoplanets include gravitational lensing and the “wobbling method”, which is based on the idea that an orbiting planet will cause its parent star to orbit slightly off-centre.

Significance of the study of exoplanets
    The search for exoplanets is driven by the possibility that life may exist beyond Earth and even if there is no evidence for this, scientists believe that their hunt for an answer will reveal details about where humans came from and where we’re headed.
    Its search is driven by one of the most profound and thought-provoking questions humanity has ever asked that is, “Are we alone in the universe?”

What is the Ariel Space Mission all about?
    Ariel is the first mission of its kind dedicated to measuring the chemical composition and thermal structures of hundreds of exoplanets.
    Ariel will help to answer one of the key questions of ESA’s Cosmic Vision Plan, which is, “What are the conditions for planet formation and the emergence of life?”.
    A large-scale survey that Ariel will perform is required to know more about exoplanets and exoplanetary systems.

European Space Agency (ESA)
    The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.
    ESA is an intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states dedicated to the exploration of space. Established in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, ESA has a worldwide staff of about 2,200 in 2018 and an annual budget of about €6.68 billion in 2020.

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