The future of exoplanet research means not just the discovery of more exoplanets, but characterizing them. To do so, the European Space Agency (ESA) is launching the Characterizing Exoplanet Satellite (CHEOPS), the PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars mission (PLATO), and the Atmospheric Remote-Sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey mission (ARIEL).
CHEOPS will observe bright stars with known exoplanets, in search for transits. The goal is to measure precise sizes of smaller planets and determine their densities (using mass data from other observatories). PLATO, however, will discover new planets with an emphasis on habitable planets where liquid water can exist on the surface. Additionally, it will analyze host stars to further our understanding of the extrasolar system’s evolution. Lastly, ARIEL will analyze the atmospheres of exoplanets. Altogether, the hope is to discover new life in the Universe.