ARIEL (Atmospheric Remote-sensing Exoplanet Large-survey) is one of the three candidate missions selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) for its next medium-class science mission due for launch in 2026. The goal of the ARIEL mission is to investigate the atmospheres of several hundreds planets orbiting distant stars in order to address the fundamental questions on how planetary systems form and evolve.

During its four-year mission ARIEL will observe hundreds of exoplanets (500-1000) ranging from Jupiter- and Neptune-size down to super-Earth and Earth-size in the visible and the infrared with its meter-class telescope. The analysis of ARIEL spectra and photometric data will allow to extract the chemical fingerprints of gases and condensates in the planets’ atmospheres, including the elemental composition for the most favorable targets. It will also enable the study of thermal and scattering properties of the atmosphere as the planet orbit around the star.

More information about the progress of the ARIEL Phase A can be found on the ESA website.

ARIEL Facts & Figures

Primary mirror: 1.1 x 0.7 m
Mission lifetime: 4 years
Spectral range: 0.5-7.8 micron
Payload mass: ~300 kg
Dry mass: ~950 kg
Launch mass: ~1200kg
Destination: L2
Cost: <450 M Euros
Launch vehicle: Ariane 6-2

The ARIEL mission concept has been developed by a consortium of more than 50 institutes from 12 European countries, which include the UK, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Ireland and Portugal.