UK Government takes leading role in new space telescope to explore exoplanets

Tue, 21 Jun 2022 03:27:38 GMT
Space Daily

London, UK (SPX) Jun 21, 2022 Due to launch in 2029, Ariel's mission is to understand the links...

It is the first space mission dedicated to this analysis and will provide a step-change in our understanding of what exoplanets are made of, how they were formed and how they evolve.

The investment is the first major long-term commitment that the UK has made to space science since the publication of the National Space Strategy and the leadership role will provide an unprecedented opportunity for the UK space sector's academic base.

Science Minister George Freeman said: This is an incredibly important commitment for UK space science and technology, marking a major milestone for the National Space Strategy and boosting our ambitions to grow our 16.5 billion pound commercial space sector.

By investing 30 million pounds and taking the helm of the entire Ariel consortium - the first time in a decade that we have secured leadership for a mission of this magnitude - we are putting the UK at the heart of international space research, providing new opportunities for space businesses and academics across the country.

The 30 million pounds is provided through the UK Space Agency's National Space Science Programme and is in addition to more than 6 million pounds the Agency has already provided to support UK teams during Ariel's study phase up to March 2022.

UK organisations contributing expertise to the UK's role as mission consortium Principal Investigator and payload lead include University College London, Cardiff University, University of Oxford and the Science and Technology Facilities Council's RAL Space at Harwell Space Cluster in Oxfordshire.

We are very grateful to the UK Space Agency and the UK government for their continued support and commitment in advancing planetary science, helping us understand worlds beyond our solar system as well as within it.

Paul Eccleston, Ariel Consortium Programme Manager and Chief Engineer at RAL Space, said: We welcome the agreement and the commitment from the UK Space Agency to enable this collaboration.

This commitment by the UK Space Agency and our scientific partner institutions in the UK is a big step forward for Ariel, and we are looking forward to working together closely on implementing the mission.

Archival data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and other NASA observatories were essential in diagnosing this case of cosmic cannibalism.