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What is Hack an Exoplanet?

Hack an Exoplanet is the first ever hackathon for secondary students organised by ESA Education. Transform your students into space detectives! Help us profile two mysterious exoplanets by analysing data from Cheops, a real ESA scientific satellite. This activity is suggested for students 14 to 19 years of age
ESA’s Cheops observed two exoplanet targets in early 2023, KELT-3b and TOI-560c, and the stellar system K2-141 in September 2023. The data collected by the satellite is available immediately for educational purposes through the hack an exoplanet activity.
By joining this activity, you can follow every step of this real-time satellite observation programme, track the Cheops satellite and access the data.

Who is coordinating Hack an Exoplanet?

Hack an Exoplanet is an educational activity developed by ESA Education in collaboration with the ESA Science directorate, with support from members of the Cheops Mission Consortium and the ESERO network.

When is Cheops observing the exoplanets?

Artist's impression of the ESA Cheops satellite

ESA’s Cheops (CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite) is a satellite that studies known exoplanets in-depth. Its mission is to observe known exoplanets and characterise them by looking at the dip of stellar light caused by the planets’ transit of their host stars. 

Cheops has observed two exoplanets, KELT-3b and TOI-560c in January 2023 and more recently it observed K2-141b and K2-141c. KELT-3b was observed 22 January 23:20 CET and TOI-560c was observed 23 January 13:12 CET. K2-141 was observed in September 2023.

Spot Cheops in the sky whilst it records data.

How can I get started?

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:

What support does ESA provide for the hackathon?

Supporting Materials:

All the materials necessary to organise the hackathon are freely available in the platform in multiple languages. Challenge 1 and Challenge 2 are already available and Challenge 3 will be made available soon!

This includes:

  • supporting video materials,
  • Cheops data prepped for use by students,
  • a set of inspirational challenges and their solutions,
  • access to data analysis software AllesFitter adapted for use in the hackathon.

Educators support:

For more information about the data, the challenges and the solutions, consult the Educators Guide page. If you have any questions you can contact us via email:

Virtual Hackathon:

During this virtual hackathon our team of experts will guide you in discovering how to analyse the Cheops data to uncover the size, orbital period and distance, habitability, and composition of these two distant worlds. Follow along to uncover the properties of the exoplanets and become a real exoplanet detective.

You can present Challenge 1, the analysis of KELT-3b, directly to your students with this virtual event. 

Watch the replay and follow along with your students: ESA Virtual Event.

Support in your country:

Contact your national contact point for more information about activities being developed in your country. A list of national contact points is provided in the Support in your country section. 

Who can apply for the best project prize?

To apply for the best project prize, teams should be comprised of students aged between 14 and 19 years old attending a secondary school or equivalent, from an ESA Member State*, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
  Age range: 14 to 19 years old
  Language: the reports should be submitted in English
  Project submissions: open from 3 April to 29 June 2023
  Teams should be comprised of 2 to 6 students and must be supported by a teacher, educator or parent. The project must be submitted by the teacher or educator.

 There is no limit to the number of teams a school or club can enter, but each student can only enter one team, and each team can submit one entry only.

* Hack an Exoplanet best project prize is open to ESA Member States, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia or Slovenia.
• At least 50% of team members must be citizens of an ESA Member State, Slovakia, Slovenia, Canada, Lithuania or Latvia.
• Each team member must be:
‒ Enrolled in a full time secondary school located in an ESA Member State, Slovakia, Slovenia, Canada, Lithuania or Latvia
‒ or, be home-schooled (certified by the National Ministry of Education or delegated authority in an ESA Member State, Slovakia, Slovenia, Canada, Lithuania or Latvia)
‒ or, be a member of a club or after-school group, such as Science Club, Scouts or the like.
* ESA Member States in 2022: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.