CHEOPS is the first S-class (small) mission selected by ESA for its Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 programme.
ESA is funding most of the launch costs and providing organizational support. Member states are tasked with the satellite’s development and its architecture is under the responsibility of Switzerland. The telescope’s mirrors were built in Italy, the baffle in Belgium, the data processing unit and flight software in Austria, the radiator in Hungary, and the focal plane, assembled in Germany, has a CCD detector supplied by the United Kingdom. ESA is also in charge of integration, verification and testing of the satellite, to be orbited by a Soyuz launcher from the Guiana Space Centre (CSG).
The CHEOPS mission consortium is tasked with supplying the instrument (telescope and focal plane), Science Operations Centre (SOC), Mission Operations Centre (MOC) and Data Centre. Each participating nation is represented by two research scientists providing science and instrument expertise. Two members of ESA’s CHEOPS team will also be invited as observers within the consortium.
The consortium defines 80% of targets to be studied, the remaining 20% being open to proposals from the scientific community through announcements of opportunity (AO). Proposals will be selected on scientific merit by the principal investigator (PI) and a CHEOPS Time Allocation Committee (TAC) appointed by ESA but working independently.
Once the satellite is in orbit, science operations will be coordinated from Switzerland by the University of Bern. The consortium led by the University’s Physics Institute federates research institutes from 10 other ESA member states: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
CHEOPS project structure. Credits: ESA, 2013