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Nobel Laureate: "Hope to find an earth twin before I die"

2019-12-07T13:08:12.283Z

Next week, the space telescope Cheops will be suspended from the European space base Kourou in South America. It should investigate alien planetary systems much more accurately than previously possible.



On Tuesday Didier Queloz receives his Nobel medal in Stockholm and a few days later he travels to French Guiana in South America to watch a rocket launch.

- Everything happens at the same time in my life, on December 10, I receive the Nobel Prize and the week after the space telescope Cheops is sent up, he says.

He is the scientific leader of Cheops, which will investigate planets around other suns that have already been discovered.

Thousands of planets

Since Didier Queloz together with Michel Mayor discovered the very first in 1995, more than 4000 new exoplanets have been found.

- The first phase was to find exoplanets and show that they exist, now we go into the next phase to investigate them more closely, says Carina Persson, who is an astrophysicist at Chalmers in Gothenburg and participates in Cheops.

Find moons

The new space telescope will be able to measure the size of the planets much more accurately than before. It can also detect moons and even more planets around the same sun. Astronomers want to investigate how important the structure of a planetary system is in order for earth-like planets to become habitable.

- We also want to know if our planetary system is unique or not. No planetary system we discovered so far resembles ours with small rocky planets closest to the sun and large gas giants further out. For example, our Jupiter has played a major role in diverting asteroids and comets, which has prevented them from crashing into the earth, says Carina Person.

Plato and Ariel

Cheops is the first of three space telescopes that the European Space Agency (ESA) plans to postpone. In 2026 it is time for Plato to look for earth-like planets around sun-like stars and then Ariel who will study the atmosphere on exoplanets.

The long-term goal is to find planets that have the same conditions for life as our own earth has.

"I would like us to discover an Earth twin before I die, but I think it will take 60 to 100 years before we find another planet," said Didier Queloz.

Want to know more about the Nobel Prize in physics? See the World of Science on Monday, December 9 in SVT2, 8 pm. The program can also already be seen on SVT play.

Source: svt

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