(Daily News Scan - DNS English) Ariel Space Mission


(Daily News Scan - DNS English) Ariel Space Mission


The space is incredibly huge. Planets, stars, moon all are part of the space or the universe. Our universe also comprises of more than 4000 exoplanets which are confirmed. But there are a lot more which needed to be studied to confirm as exoplanets. Recently, the European Space Agency (ESA) has formally adopted Ariel, the explorer that will study the nature, formation and evolution of exoplanets.

One of the closest exoplanet to Earth is Proxima Centauri b. It is four light years away and inhabits the “habitable zone” of its star, which means that it could possibly have liquid water on its surface.

In this DNS, we will talk about what are exoplanets, Ariel space Mission and why do scientists study exoplanets.

Planets that lie outside of the Solar System and orbit around stars other than the Sun are called exoplanets or extrasolar planets. These exoplanets are not easy to detect since they are much less brighter than the stars they orbit. Hence it is difficult to see those directly using telescopes.

According to NASA, only a handful of exoplanets have been found using telescopes and the rest have been detected using indirect methods. There are basically two methods to track an exoplanet. The first method, involves tracking the dimming of a star that happens when a planet passes front of it.

The second method includes the 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.

The search for exoplanets is driven by the possibility that life may exist beyond Earth. 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.

So what is the Ariel Space Mission?

Ariel is Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey. Scientists are planning to launch this mission in 2029.

AREIL will perform a large-scale survey of over a thousand exoplanets over a period of four years. These thousand exoplanets will range from gas giants to rocky planets, which will help them to compile a list of their compositions and properties thereby providing insights about how planetary systems form and evolve.

Ariel is the first mission of its kind dedicated to measuring the chemical composition and thermal structures of hundreds of exoplanets. Apart from this, 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?”.

According to the ESA, while a large number of exoplanets have already been discovered, there is no clear link between the presence, size or orbital parameters of the planet and the nature of their parent stars. Therefore, a large-scale survey that Ariel will perform is required to know more about exoplanets and exoplanetary systems.