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Help us profile the mysterious KELT-3b and TOI560c exoplanets by analysing data from Cheops, a real ESA scientific satellite. 

Calling all space detectives to hack an exoplanet!

We have a case on our hands, of two mysterious exoplanets, and we need your help to profile them. Find out how you can use real satellite data to investigate an alien planet and become an exoplanet detective in the first ever ESA Education hackathon for secondary students.

Join us for this exciting new event featuring experts Didier Queloz, the 2019 Nobel Laureate in Physics, and Kate Isaak, ESA project scientist for the Cheops mission.

Subtitles are available (automatically generated by YouTube) – select your language using the YouTube player controls.

Are you ready to become an exoplanet detective?

Test your knowledge about exoplanets by completing the quiz! 

Rules: The quiz is composed of 6 questions about exoplanets. Complete it successfully and you will receive an Exoplanet Detective certificate. If you want to learn more about exoplanets check out the other resources and join the hackathon!
Exoplanet Detective Quiz
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1. What is an exoplanet?
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Correct! An exoplanet is a planet beyond our solar system.The vast majority of exoplanets are found orbiting other stars, but there are a few that do not, which are called free-floating planets.

Exoplanets come in many different sizes, with a very wide range of temperatures, compositions, configurations and orbital periods. So far we have not found one that is exactly the same as the Earth, but we are looking…

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Not quite! An exoplanet is a planet beyond our solar system.The vast majority of exoplanets are found orbiting other stars, but there are a few that do not, which are called free-floating planets.

Exoplanets come in many different sizes, with a very wide range of temperatures, compositions, configurations and orbital periods. So far we have not found one that is exactly the same as the Earth, but we are looking…

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2. How many exoplanets have been discovered to-date?
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Correct! As of November 2022, more than 5000 exoplanets have been discovered using a variety of different techniques, telescopes and surveys. There are many more "candidate" exoplanets which have yet to be confirmed.

For more information take a look at exoplanet.eu.

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Not quite! As of November 2022, more than 5000 exoplanets have been discovered using a variety of different techniques, telescopes and surveys. There are many more "candidate" exoplanets which have yet to be confirmed.

For more information take a look at exoplanet.eu.

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3. Why can't we visit an exoplanet?
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Correct! Exoplanets are found well beyond our Solar System. It takes light from even the closest exoplanet several years to reach the Earth.

Current spacecraft can travel at only a very small fraction of the speed of light, so travelling to the nearest exoplanet would take thousands of years with current technology.

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Not quite! Exoplanets are found well beyond our Solar System. It takes light from even the closest exoplanet several years to reach the Earth.

Current spacecraft can travel at only a very small fraction of the speed of light, so travelling to the nearest exoplanet would take thousands of years with current technology.

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4. What is the name of the first ESA space telescope dedicated to studying exoplanets?
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Correct! The satellite is called Cheops. Cheops stands for CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite.

Cheops studies known exoplanets orbiting bright stars, measuring very precisely their sizes.

To find out more about Cheops, take a look at: esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/Cheops and https://cheops.unibe.ch/.

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Not quite! The satellite is called Cheops. Cheops stands for CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite.

Cheops studies known exoplanets orbiting bright stars, measuring very precisely their sizes.

To find out more about Cheops, take a look at: esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/Cheops and https://cheops.unibe.ch/.

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5. What is an exoplanet transit? When an exoplanet…
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Correct! An exoplanet transit occurs when an exoplanet passes between the star it is orbiting and the telescope observing it, blocking a small portion of the starlight that the telescope would collect.

By monitoring the dip in the light from the star as the planet transits, we can study the planet itself. This technique is known as transit photometry, and is used by Cheops.

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Not quite! An exoplanet transit occurs when an exoplanet passes between the star it is orbiting and the telescope observing it, blocking a small portion of the starlight that the telescope would collect.

By monitoring the dip in the light from the star as the planet transits, we can study the planet itself. This technique is known as transit photometry, and is used by Cheops.

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6. Where is Cheops?
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Correct! Cheops orbits the Earth approximately once every 100 minutes, at an altitude of 700 km above the Earth’s surface. This orbit is called sun-synchronous, with the satellite crossing the equator at the same local solar time every day and night.

Cheops passes over the equator at around 6am/6pm, riding the so-called day/night terminator – as a result the orbit is also known as a dawn/dusk orbit. The orbit was chosen to minimise the impact of sunlight and reflected stray light from Earth on Cheops observations.

For a visualisation of the CHEOPS orbit take a look at: esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Videos/2018/11/The_orbit_of_Cheops.

To see where Cheops is right now take a look at: cheops.unibe.ch/.

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Almost correct! Cheops orbits the Earth approximately once every 100 minutes, at an altitude of 700 km above the Earth’s surface.This orbit is called sun-synchronous, with the satellite crossing the equator at the same local solar time every day and night.

Cheops passes over the equator at around 6am/6pm, riding the so-called day/night terminator – as a result the orbit is also known as a dawn/dusk orbit. The orbit was chosen to minimise the impact of sunlight and reflected stray light from Earth on Cheops observations.

For a visualisation of the CHEOPS orbit take a look at: esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Videos/2018/11/The_orbit_of_Cheops.

To see where Cheops is right now take a look at: cheops.unibe.ch/.

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Overview

In early 2023, ESA’s Cheops (CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite) will observe two exoplanet targets, KELT-3b and TOI-560c. By joining a Hack an Exoplanet event, teams of secondary students will get the opportunity to analyse real satellite data collected by Cheops and hack these mysterious alien worlds. This activity is targeted at teams of students aged 14 to 19 years old. ​ 
Artist_s_impression_of_Cheops
Online and physical hackathons will be organised in April and May 2023, and you can even host your own hackathon at your school! The hackathon activities developed with the support of ESA experts will be made freely available on the platform in multiple languages in early April.

After teams participate in a hackathon, they can submit their project until June 2023 and apply for the Best Project prize.  

The Hack an Exoplanet platform provides a variety of inspirational resources for educators to engage students in STEM subjects using the fascinating topic of exoplanets as the learning context, including classroom resources, videos with experts, a quiz, the opportunity to ask a scientist a question and much more. You can also vote for your favourite exoplanet.

Timeline

Nov - Dec 2022
Become an exoplanet detective

Learn more about exoplanets. Complete the quiz to get your Exoplanets Detective certificate!

Are you a teacher? Access educational supporting materials, including videos with experts, classroom resources and more information about the hackathon events. 

28 Feb 2023
Vote for your favourite

Explore the KELT-3b and TOI-560c exoplanet case files.

Vote for your favourite exoplanet until 28 February 2023.

Jan - Mar 2023
Spot Cheops
UPDATE! Cheops observation dates confirmed for our two mysterious exoplanets.
KELT-3b: 22 January 23:20 CET
TOI 560c: 23 January 13:12 CET

Track the Cheops satellite in the sky as it records your data. Stay tuned to get a sneak preview of the data, and learn about Cheops and how it works with space experts.
Apr 2023
Get involved

 Learn more about how to get involved in local (in-person) and virtual events or organise your own hack an exoplanet activity.  

Are you a teacher? Create a login account and access the hackathon materials. Would you like more information about the hackathon challenges? Join the information session on 3 April 2023.

Apr - May 2023
Hack an exoplanet events

Physical and virtual hackathons organised by National Coordinators and schools will take place throughout the month of April and May.

Also ESA is organising a virtual Hack an Exoplanet hackathon on 18 April 2023, open to everyone to join. 

14 June 2023
Submit your project

After the hackathon submit your team's hack an exoplanet project for a chance to win the Best Project Prize. The deadline for submissions is 14 June 2023. 

The winning teams will receive ESA goodies, as well as the opportunity to participate in a webinar with Physics Nobel Laureate Didier Queloz, on 17 July 2023.

Explore our exoplanets!

We have two mysterious exoplanets, and we need your help to profile them. In preparation for your hackathon, click on the case files to discover what we already know about our two targets: the puffy gas giant KELT-3b and the almost-tropical mini Neptune TOI-560c

Once you’ve investigated the planets, vote for your favourite exoplanet!

Get started!

Educational supporting materials

Are you a teacher? If you are not sure how to start, visit our resources section to find tailored classroom resources and other educational supporting materials for guidance.

Stay tuned! Throughout the year we will be releasing new materials with space experts and answering questions about exoplanets through the ask a scientist section.

Hack an Exoplanet events

Dust off your trench coat, put on your thinking hat and grab your magnifying glass. It’s time to join physical or online hackathon events and uncover the mysteries of our two exoplanets!

Using real data from ESA’s Cheops satellite, students will get a glimpse into the life of an exoplanet scientist, learning how to detect and characterise far away planets in an out-of-this-world detective story.

Find out more about how to join events in your area or host a hackathon. ESA’s hosted virtual hackathon will take place on 18 April 2023. 

April May 2023

Cheops Satellite. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab
Didier Queloz. Credit: Nick Staffel - University of Cambridge

July 2023

Hack an Exoplanet prize

After the hackathon, submit your project for a chance to win the Best Project Prize. The winning teams will receive ESA goodies and participate in a webinar with 2019 Nobel Prize winner Didier Queloz and ask him questions live! The webinar will take place on 17 July 2023, at 14h CEST.

Didier is a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Cambridge and ETH Zurich. He is one of the originators of the “exoplanet revolution” in astrophysics. In 1995, as part of his PhD, he and his supervisor announced the first discovery of a giant planet orbiting another sun-like star outside the Solar System.

Hack an Exoplanet events

All teachers and educators are welcome to organise or join an Hack an Exoplanet activity with your teams of students. Find out below how you can join or host an event. Stay tuned for new events that will be added to the list throughout the year!

If you are from Austria, Denmark, Greece, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden you can find out more about activities in your country, by contacting your national contact points.

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