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Mission type Astronomy
Operator ESA
Mission duration 4–5 years[1][2]
Spacecraft properties
Launch mass 2,100 kg (4,600 lb)[3]
Start of mission
Launch date 2024[1]
Rocket Soyuz STA/Fregat[2]
Launch site Kourou ELS[3]
Contractor Arianespace
Orbital parameters
Reference system Sun–Earth L2[2][3]
Regime Halo or Lissajous
Epoch planned
Main telescope
Type Cassegrain[2]
Diameter 1.4 m (4.6 ft)[2]
Focal length 2 m (6.6 ft)[2]
Collecting area 14 m2 (150 sq ft)[2]
Wavelengths from 0.55 µm (orange)
to 11µm (long-infrared)
(goal: 0.4 to 16 µm)[1][2]

The Exoplanet Characterisation Observatory (EChO) was a proposed space telescope[2] as part of the Cosmic Vision roadmap of the European Space Agency, and competed with four other missions for the M3 slot in the programme. On February 19, 2014, the PLATO mission was selected in place of the other candidates in the programme, including EChO.[4]

EChO would be the first dedicated mission to investigate exoplanetary atmospheres, addressing the suitability of those planets for life and placing the Solar System in context. EChO is intended to provide high resolution, multi-wavelength spectroscopic observations. It would measure the atmospheric composition, temperature and albedo of a representative sample of known exoplanets, constrain models of their internal structure and improve our understanding of how planets form and evolve.[5] It will orbit around the L2 Lagrange point, 1.5 million km from Earth in the anti-sunward direction.

Other M3 mission candidates[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "EChO mission summary". EChO website. ESA. 16 December 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Tinetti, G.; Beaulieu, J. P.; Henning, T.; Meyer, M.; Micela, G.; Ribas, I.; Stam, D.; Swain, M.; Krause, O.; Ollivier, M.; Pace, E.; Swinyard, B.; Aylward, A.; Boekel, R.; Coradini, A.; Encrenaz, T.; Snellen, I.; Zapatero-Osorio, M. R.; Bouwman, J.; Cho, J. Y. K.; Coudé De Foresto, V.; Guillot, T.; Lopez-Morales, M.; Mueller-Wodarg, I.; Palle, E.; Selsis, F.; Sozzetti, A.; Ade, P. A. R.; Achilleos, N.; Adriani, A. (2012). "EChO - Exoplanet Characterisation Observatory". Experimental Astronomy. 34 (2): 311. arXiv:1112.2728free to read. Bibcode:2012ExA....34..311T. doi:10.1007/s10686-012-9303-4. 
  3. ^ a b c "EChO spacecraft". EChO website. ESA. 30 June 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  4. ^ "ESA selects planet-hunting PLATO mission". ESA. 19 February 2014. Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
  5. ^ Tinetti, G.; Cho, J. Y. K.; Griffith, C. A.; Grasset, O.; Grenfell, L.; Guillot, T.; Koskinen, T. T.; Moses, J. I.; Pinfield, D.; Tennyson, J.; Tessenyi, M.; Wordsworth, R.; Aylward, A.; Van Boekel, R.; Coradini, A.; Encrenaz, T.; Snellen, I.; Zapatero-Osorio, M. R.; Bouwman, J.; Du Foresto, V. C.; Lopez-Morales, M.; Mueller-Wodarg, I.; Pallé, E.; Selsis, F.; Sozzetti, A.; Beaulieu, J. P.; Henning, T.; Meyer, M.; Micela, G.; Ribas, I. (2011). "The science of EChO" (PDF). Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union. 6: 359. Bibcode:2011IAUS..276..359T. doi:10.1017/S1743921311020448. 

External links[edit]