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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 recommended for students 14 to 19 years of age

ESA’s Cheops will observe two exoplanet targets in early 2023, KELT-3b and TOI-560c. The data collected by the satellite will be made 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 while it observes the two exoplanets in early 2023 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?

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 will observe the two exoplanets, KELT-3b and TOI-560c in early 2023. 

KELT-3b will be observed 22 January 23:20 CET and TOI-560c will be observed 23 January 13:12 CET. Spot Cheops in the sky whilst it records your 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 will be made freely available in the platform in multiple languages on 3 April 2023.
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.

Information session:

On 3 April 2023, ESA will organise an information session open to all teachers and educators interested in the hack an exoplanet activity. We will provide more information about the data, explain the challenges and the solutions. Create a login account to register for this information session. 

Virtual Hackathon:

On 18 April 2023, ESA will run a virtual hackathon open to all the teams that would like to participate; more information will be provided closer to the date. 

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 Get involved section. 

When are the hackathons taking place?

Online and physical hackathons will be organised in April and May 2023. You can join existing hackathons or create your own event, find more details in the Get involved section. 

Even if you do not attend a hack an exoplanet event you can still complete the challenges. All the materials will be freely available on the platform.   

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 14 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.